The Arab League in Cairo on Sunday announced its backing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s rejection of Israel as a Jewish state. Amid peace talks between Israel and Palestine led by the United States, Abbas refused to heed the U.S. government’s advice to make the concession on Saturday, according to Reuters. “We recognized Israel in mutual recognition in the (1993) Oslo agreement – why do they now ask us to recognize the Jewishness of the state?” Abbas said, according to Reuters.
Officials on Sunday continue to search for the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing midflight. Some officials suspect that the plane, which was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, crashed in Vietnam, as the Vietnamese government reported possible debris from the wreckage in the country, according to Reuters. Interpol reported that two passengers on the flight had stolen Austrian and Italian passports, and that it is still investigating several other “suspect passports,” Reuters reported.
An Islamist on Sunday was sentenced to eight years in jail by a Saudi court after he criticized the country’s security services on Twitter. The court found the unidentified man guilty of inciting “families of those arrested for security reasons to protest by publishing Tweets and videos on YouTube,” according to the Agence France-Presse. AFP also reported that the court found the man guilty of charges of “mocking” Arabian King Abdullah and other Saudi Arabian scholars. Last month, King Abdullah announced that members of “terrorist groups” can be jailed for up to 20 years if found guilty.
As the first week of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial ended this weekend, a Pretorian court has entertained more witnesses in the double amputee’s case. Pistorius allegedly killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day of last year and tried to cover it up. He claims it was an accident, according to the Associated Press. AP reported that Michelle Burger, a previous neighbor of Pistorius, narrated how she heard “blood-curdling” screams from Steenkamp the night of the murder. Another neighbor also recounted how he found Steenkamp’s bloody body as Pistorius knelt next to the corpse that night.
Ten years after the Al-Qaeda train bombing that shook Madrid, officials on Sunday sent out an alert regarding self-acting Islamists planning coordinated attacks. Officials and experts say extremists have recently been flooding online chat rooms and private houses to plan for “jihad,” according to the AFP. The AFP reported that at the moment, the anti-terrorist level in Spain remains at “a likely risk of attack.” The Al-Qaeda train bombing happened on March 11, 2004 and killed 191 people on a commuter train headed to Madrid’s Atocha station.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday officially announced her opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s referendum on whether Crimea should be considered Russian territory. While Merkel deemed the referendum illegal and against the Ukrainian constitution, Putin continued to defend his stance and seized another border post and a military airfield in Crimea, Reuters reported. Rallies continue to flare up in Crimea and in the Ukrainian city Sevastopol, where pro-Russian activists and Cossacks attacked a group of Ukrainians and incited street violence.