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Saudi King Orders Investigation Into Hajj Stampede

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered a swift investigation, as well as a safety review, after Thursday's stampede at the Hajj pilgrimage site of Mina which left at least 717 people dead and 863 hurt.

On its Friday front page, Saudi daily Al Yaum quotes the king as saying that "the massive development plans undertaken to upgrade Hajj services will continue without any break."

Health Minister Khaled al-Falih seemed to blame the tragedy on the victims, saying that "pilgrims moved without following instructions," a comment that sparked intense criticism, not least from Iran, the home country of most of the victims identified so far.

According to the BBC, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the Saudi government, saying "mismanagement and improper actions have caused this catastrophe." Witnesses interviewed by AFP also pointed out the police's tactics and unpreparedness.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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