ISRAEL

Palestinian aid released

American aid officials said Saturday they will restore development programs for Palestinians after President Barack Obama ended a six-month funding freeze that shut down the local Sesame Street and other projects. An official with the U.S. Agency for International Development confirmed that $147 million, which pays for infrastructure, education, humanitarian aid and health projects, had been restored. But the official could not say specifically whether Palestinian Sesame Street would resume.

EGYPT

Saudis close embassy

Saudi Arabia closed its Cairo embassy Saturday and recalled its ambassador following protests over a detained Egyptian human-rights lawyer in a sharp escalation of tension between two regional powerhouses already on shaky terms because of uprisings in the Arab world. The unexpected Saudi diplomatic break followed days of protests by hundreds of Egyptians outside the Saudi Embassy in Cairo and consulates in other cities to demand the release of Ahmed el-Gezawi. Relatives and human-rights groups say he was detained on allegations of insulting the kingdom’s monarch. Saudi authorities denied that and said he was arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle anti-anxiety drugs into the conservative oil-rich kingdom.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Large van bomb defused

British army experts defused a 600-pound van bomb Saturday on the Northern Ireland border, the largest such bomb in more than a year linked to Irish Republican Army die-hards. British army experts defused the homemade bomb two days after a motorist told police about the abandoned van on a border road near the predominantly Catholic town of Newry, a hub for IRA activity. Police and soldiers took more than a day to search the surrounding area, fearful of a potential IRA ambush, before moving in. Newry’s police commander, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson, said the bomb was “a very significant device. If this had exploded, it would have caused devastation.”

Compiled from wire reports.