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• The Palestine Liberation Organization formally dropped its requirement that Israel freeze all settlements before peace talks commence, in order to allow a new round of U.S.-mediated indirect negotiations. [AP/NYT]

• Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Israel today, ostensibly to kick-start those talks, but perhaps most of all to signal to Israeli leaders that America continues to back them. [LAT]

• A leaked Israeli Foreign Ministry report argues that U.S. positions in the talks will hew closer to the Palestinian side, and anyway that in the coming months the Obama administration will be more focused on November’s midterm elections. [Haaretz]

• In a sign of tensions over Russia’s willingness to support harsher sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran expelled all Russian commercial pilots. [Reuters/Haaretz]

• Companies that do business with Iran despite U.S. discouragement have nonetheless won over $100 billion in U.S. contracts in the past 10 years. [NYT]

• Many in Lebanon believe they will have a new conflict with Israel, like that in 2006, in the near future. [LAT]





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