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Dec. 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM
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U.K., France may recall envoys to Israel

JERUSALEM, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Britain and France are poised to recall their Israeli envoys to protest Israel's decision to add settlements in a contentious West Bank area, Haaretz reported.

"This time it won't just be a condemnation, there will be real action taken against Israel," a senior European diplomat told the Israeli newspaper.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to allow a development that would separate the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem could prevent the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state, The New York Times reported.

The development of the mostly empty area known as E1 was announced Friday, a day after the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the status of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the same rank as the Catholic Church's Holy See.

Israeli officials also authorized construction of 3,000 housing units in parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The E1 settlement would put housing along a 4-mile stretch between Jerusalem to the large settlement city of Maale Adumim, the site of the biblical Good Samaritan parable in the Book of Luke.

"London is furious about the E1 decision," a European diplomat told Haaretz.

Turkey cites Syria chemical weapon concern

ANKARA, Turkey, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Turkey asked NATO for Patriot missile defenses after learning Syria has contemplated using chemical weapons against rebels, Turkish officials told The Guardian.

The officials told the British newspaper they had credible evidence that if the Syrian government's aerial bombardment against opposition-held areas failed to subdue the rebels, the regime of President Bashar Assad would consider using missiles topped with chemical warheads in a desperate last effort to survive.

Turkey believes the regime is preparing in case it decides to use Soviet Cold War-era Scud and North Korean SS-21 Scarab tactical ballistic missiles against rebel forces, the officials said.

The missiles would likely be aimed at opposition areas but could easily stray across the border with Turkey, as Syrian army artillery shells and mortars have done, Turkish officials said.

A missile, especially with a chemical warhead, would represent a far more serious threat to Turkish border communities than artillery shells. So Ankara asked NATO last month to supply it with Patriot missile-defense systems, which can spot incoming missiles and intercept them, the officials said.

"We have intelligence from different sources that the Syrians will use ballistic missiles and chemical warheads," a senior Turkish official told the newspaper.

N. Korea rocket launch on, Japan on alert

TOKYO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Japan prepared Monday to deploy missile interceptors in advance of a North Korean long-range rocket launch seen by Washington as a violation of U.N. resolutions.

Japan's naval transport ship Kunisaki sailed for Okinawa carrying the ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interceptors to be placed at several sites on Okinawa, Kyodo News reported.

North Korea, according to its official Korean Central News Agency, intends to launch its Unha-3 rocket between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22 from the Sohae Space Center in North Phyongan province to place an "Earth observation satellite" into orbit. The Communist country's attempt to launch a long-range rocket in April failed.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency quoted a Seoul government source as saying North Korea had installed the first stage of its three-stage, long-range rocket on its launch platform despite international warnings against the launch.

The source and South Korean intelligence officials told Yonhap it would take up to four days to set up all three stages.

"That means North Korea is starting its process of launching a long-range missile," the source said.

Boehner stunned by Geithner 'cliff' plan

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- House Speaker John Boehner says he was stunned by the "fiscal cliff" plan offered by U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who wants the rich to pay more taxes.

"I was flabbergasted," the Ohio Republican told "Fox News Sunday" in describing Geithner's private meeting with him last week.

When asked about the chances of preventing more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts from kicking in, Boehner said: "Right now, I would say we're nowhere, period. We're nowhere."

Boehner said Republicans have offered a way of breaking the stalemate -- by compromising on an overhaul of the tax code that would limit deductions that disproportionately benefit the rich.

But Geithner rejected that proposal on five talk shows Sunday, insisting the wealthy must pay higher tax rates and saying Republicans must come forward with a plan that meets that requirement.

"There's no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up on the wealthiest Americans," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers propose letting the so-called George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, while leaving those same breaks in place for lower-income brackets.

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