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Romania's Constitutional Court Delays Referendum Ruling



BUCHAREST - The political crisis in Romania worsens, threatening the country's already fragile economy.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court was expected to invalidate the results of July 29's referendum on the impeachment of President Traian Basescu, Romania. Eighty-eight percent of those who participated in the referendum voted to dismiss President Basescu.

But, "Huge Surprise," titles the Bucharest daily Romania Libera on Friday: The Constitutional Court has delayed ruling on the referendum until September 12.

The July 29 poll was deemed invalid because of low voter turnout: only 46% of the electorate voted, while Romanian legislation demands a 50% participation for a ballot to count.

However, Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta, instigator of the impeachment vote, says the 50% threshold might have actually been reached. He says that according to 2011 census figures, the Romanian total population decreased significantly, from 22 millions to 19, as explains the weekly publication Revista 22.

Using the new numbers, believes Ponta, the 50% limit was indeed met.

The nine judges from the Romanian Constitutional Court were not able to reach a unanimous decision on whether or not to uphold the referendum's result.

Until the September ruling, President Basescu remains suspended and is replaced by interim president, Crin Antonescu.

The political stalemate has a strong impact on the economy of the seventh largest EU member state. According to the national publication Romania Libera, the local currency (LEU) was at its lowest rate after the delay announced by the Constitutional Court yesterday.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Palestinian Olive Trees Are Also Under Israeli Occupation — And That's Not A Joke

In the West Bank, a quieter form of oppression has been plaguing Palestinians for a long time. Their olive groves are surrounded by soldiers, and it's forbidden to harvest the olives – this economic and social violence has gotten far worse since Oct. 7.

A Palestinian woman holds olives in her hands

In a file photo, Um Ahmed, 74, collects olives in the village of Sarra on the southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Turabi/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

HEBRON – It was after Friday prayers on October 13th of last year, and Zakaria al-Arda was walking along the road that crosses his property's hillside to return home – but he never made it.

A settler from Havat Ma'on — an outpost bordering Al-Tuwani that the United Nations International Law and Israeli law considers illegal — descended from the hill with his rifle in hand.

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After kicking al-Arda, who tried to defend himself, the settler shot him in the abdomen. The bullet pierced through his stomach, a few centimeters below the lungs. Since then, al-Arda has been in the hospital in intensive care. A video of those moments clearly shows that neither al-Arda nor the other worshippers leaving the mosque were carrying any weapons.

The victim's cousin, Hafez Hureini, still lives in the town of Al-Tuwani. He is a farmer, and their house on the slope of the town is surrounded by olive trees — and Israeli soldiers. On the pine tree at the edge of his property, settlers have planted an Israeli flag. Today, Hafez lives, like everyone else, as an occupied individual.

He cannot work in his greenhouse, cannot sow his fields, and cannot harvest the olives from his precious olive trees.

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