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Iran repeats opposition to two-state solution

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Any plan to divide a Palestinian state would be unacceptable, Iran’s supreme leader said on Saturday, adding that such a state could exist temporarily as part of “liberated territory.”

Israel’s prime minister responded by saying his country would respond to these “hateful” remarks by redoubling its focus on security and its demands that it be recognised as a Jewish state.

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“Any plan which would lead to the division of Palestine is unacceptable,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told an international conference, as the United Nations continues to mull a membership application filed by the Palestinian Authority.

“Any plan that would create two states … would be accepting a Zionist state in the land of Palestine,” Khamenei told the International Conference on Palestine in Tehran.

He again called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and “a permanent threat” to peace in the Middle East, as he often does in speeches on the issue.

“It goes without saying that the Palestinian people, as they did in Gaza, will create a state … on any liberated Palestinian land,” Khamenei said.

“But the ultimate goal is to liberate all of Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea.”

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“We do not propose a conventional war by Islamic countries, throwing the Jews into the sea or arbitration by the UN and other international bodies,” but a “referendum by (indigenous) Palestinians” regardless of religion but excluding Jews who have immigrated, Khamenei said.

In August, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the potential recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations should only be a “step forward” towards “full liberation.”

In response to Khamenei’s remarks, Netanyahu said the “hateful declarations of the ayatollahs’ regime about the destruction of Israel reinforce our determination to protect the security needs of our citizens and to demand that Israel be recognised as a Jewish state.”

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“Israel will continue to work for achieving peace, ensuring that the peace and security of its citizens will be guaranteed for generations to come.”

On September 23, the UN Security Council took up the request for full recognition of a Palestinian state over the vehement opposition of Israel and the United States.

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The Tehran conference is being attended by parliamentarians from some 20 nations and such figures as Khaled Meshaal, exiled chief of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group, and Ramadan Abdullah, secretary general of Islamic Jihad.


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COVID-19

A coronavirus vaccine that wouldn’t require a shot

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As labs around the world race to develop a vaccine, my colleagues and I are trying to find a better way to deliver it than the standard, cringe-inducing shot.

I am an immunologist and dermatologist, and my colleagues and I have been working on vaccines against the very related coronaviruses that cause MERS and SARS. We were able to use the resources and systems we had already developed to very rapidly create a vaccine candidate for this new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that we have tested in mice.

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COVID-19

‘Didn’t understand the danger’: Israel health minister under fire over ultra-Orthodox COVID-19 crisis

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To some, Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is guilty of a "catastrophic failure" of leadership for not urgently conveying the coronavirus threat to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that elected him.

Milder critics have described Litzman as a "tragic" leader, whose limited authority compared to ultra-Orthodox rabbis' hindered his ability to persuade constituents to embrace science-based protections against the outbreak.

The coronavirus crisis presented the 71-year-old Litzman, himself ultra-Orthodox, with daunting challenges -- even before he and his wife tested positive for the virus.

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COVID-19

Spain’s daily virus death toll rises again with 757 fatalities

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Spain recorded on Wednesday a second successive daily rise in coronavirus-related deaths with 757 fatalities, lifting the total toll in Europe's second-hardest-hit country after Italy by 5.5 percent to 14,555.

The number of new infections rose by 4.4 percent to 146,690, the health ministry said, as Spain has ramped up its testing for the disease.

The number of daily deaths, which peaked on Thursday at 950, rose for the first time on Tuesday after falling for four straight days.

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