JERUSALEM – Israel on Monday advanced plans to build 800 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a move that could strain ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced the move, saying it would include 100 homes in a settlement where an Israeli woman was killed last month in an attack allegedly carried out by a Palestinian assailant. The announcement will burnish Netanyahu's right-wing credentials ahead of March elections, but it could anger Biden, who is opposed to settlement expansion.
Meanwhile, Egypt on Monday hosted the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Jordan to discuss ways to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
50 nations pledge planet protections
At least 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of the planet, including land and sea, over the next decade to halt species extinction and address climate change issues, during a global summit Monday aimed at protecting the world's biodiversity.
About 30 leaders, government officials and heads of international organizations participated in the One Planet Summit, which was being held by videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Top U.S. officials were notably absent, as were the leaders of Russia, India and Brazil.
Libyan gets life in killing of 3
A Libyan man who stabbed three friends to death as they sat in an English city park on a summer evening was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Judge Nigel Sweeney said Khairi Saadallah should be given a rare whole-life prison term for the “ruthless and brutal” attack.
He said it was “a rare and exceptional case.”
Saadallah, 26, had pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and three of attempted murder for the June 20 violence in the town 40 miles west of London. Prosecutors said Saadallah, an asylum-seeker who came to Britain in 2012, stabbed the victims while shouting “Allahu akbar.”
The judge rejected the argument that Saadallah was suffering a mental illness at the time of the attack.
Massive snowfall hits central Spain
The Spanish capital of Madrid was still trying to get back on its feet Monday after a 50-year record snowfall that paralyzed large parts of central Spain and hampered the delivery of coronavirus vaccines.
The blizzard dumped over 20 inches of snow in some areas and a cold front was turning mounds of fluffy white into sheets of ice and crusted drifts. At least 700 roads were still not clear enough, half of them unfit for driving without chains.
Temperatures were expected to drop to minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit in a large swath of the country later Monday, according to the national AEMET weather agency, prompting authorities to urge people to exercise caution.
Women's role at Mass now official
Pope Francis changed church law Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass, granting them access to the most sacred place on the altar, while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests.
Francis amended the law to formalize and institutionalize what is common practice in many parts of the world: Women can be installed as lectors, to read Scripture, and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers.
Previously, such roles were officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made.
Francis said he was making the change to increase recognition of the “precious contribution” women make in the church, while emphasizing that all baptized Catholics have a role to play in the church's mission.