Italian man seriously wounded during protest in West Bank, Palestinian official says

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JERUSALEM — An Italian man marching in support of Palestinians in the northern West Bank on Friday was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli forces, a Palestinian hospital official said.

Ramallah Hospital director Ahmad Bitawi says 30-year-old Patrick Corsi was shot during a peaceful protest Friday in the village of Kufr Qadom, near Nablus. He described Corsi's condition as stable.

Village resident Khaldon Ishtawi said Israeli soldiers opened fire without provocation on about 400 protesters from a distance of around 40 meters (130 feet) and shot Corsi in the chest.

The Israeli military said it opened fire on the demonstrators with low caliber bullets after tear gas and other crowd control measures failed to stop them from burning tires and throwing rocks. It said two demonstrators were wounded and evacuated to hospitals.

In other violence Friday, the Israeli military said security forces opened fire with low caliber bullets on dozens of rock-throwing Palestinian demonstrators at the Qalandiya checkpoint following weekly prayers. The army reported two injuries among the demonstrators, but had no information on their condition.

Meanwhile, Israel's hard-line foreign minister said he supports paying Arab citizens to leave the country, a statement likely to further enflame already tense relations between Israeli Jews and Arabs.

In a manifesto of his Yisrael Beitenu party, Avigdor Lieberman says he favors ceding Arab majority areas in northern Israel to a future Palestinian state and providing economic incentives for Arab Israelis — about 20 percent of Israel's population of 8 million — to emigrate.

Once a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Lieberman is now seen as harboring prime ministerial ambitions himself.

His offer to pay Israeli Arabs to leave comes as Netanyahu pushes forward with a contentious bill to formalize Israel's status as a Jewish state — a measure that many Arab Israelis say will institutionalize their status as second-class citizens.

The bill, which Netanyahu says is necessary to safeguard Israel's future, is opposed by a wide range of Israeli political figures, including the largely ceremonial president, but is strongly supported by right-wing members of his ruling coalition, including Lieberman.

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