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Group stories, special reports

Australian Muslim community welcomes the decision by the Australian government to abstain from, rather than oppose, a vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the Palestinian observer status resolution. But also ask them to vote yes.

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The Palestinians will renew a bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations, a move which could strengthen their statehood claims after talks with Israel stalled.

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After great pressure from activists including reminders of, and analogies between Israeli apartheid and that of South Africa, the celebrated American singer and song-writer Stevie Wonder cancels a scheduled performance for a “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces” fundraiser.

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Gaza residents say that Israel has eased some border restrictions as part of its ceasefire with the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers, allowing farmers to visit land near its security fence and letting fishermen head further out to sea.

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been forced to withdraw Australia’s support for Israel in an upcoming United Nations vote after being opposed by the vast majority of her cabinet and warned she would be rolled by the caucus. As a result, Australia will abstain from a vote in the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution to give Palestine observer status in the UN, rather than join the United States and Israel in voting against the resolution as Ms Gillard had wanted.

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Twenty leading organisations from Australia’s Muslim community have released a strongly worded statement condemning Israel’s attacks against Palestine’s civilian population and criticising the Australian Government for defending what they described as Israel’s “heinous crimes”.

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Israel and Hamas agree to truce after eight days of attacks in which 162 Palestinians and five Israelis are killed. A ceasefire has gone into effect in and around the Gaza Strip, after Israel and Hamas agreed to cease hostilities.

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Wednesday with Palestinian and Egyptian leaders as she works to bring calm to the violence between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

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