In our news wrap Monday, Palestinian officials announced a decision to make a new bid for statehood at the UN Security Council and to try to force Israel to give up the West Bank. Also, more than 3,000 rescuers searched through the wreckage of mudslide in central Indonesia. The death toll rose to 56, while more than 50 others remain missing.
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Oil and stocks picked up today where they left off last week, going south. The price of crude sank below $56 a barrel in New York trading. It hasn't been that low since May of 2009. And the Dow Jones industrial average lost almost 100 points to close below 17181; the Nasdaq fell 48 points to close at 4605; and the S&P 500 slipped 12 to 1989.
In the Middle East, Palestinian officials vowed today to press forward with a new bid for statehood at the United Nations. A spokesman for the Fatah movement, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced the decision to try to force Israel to give up the West Bank.
AHMAD ASSAF, Fatah Spokesman (through interpreter):
The Palestinian leadership decided to go to the U.N. Security Council next Wednesday to hold a vote on a draft resolution which calls for the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank within two years.
The resolution will be submitted to the Security Council after a scheduled meeting has taken place between Arab foreign ministers and Europe ministers with Secretary of State John Kerry.
A second resolution at the Security Council calls for a two-year deadline on negotiations about statehood. Israel opposes both resolutions. And, today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome. Kerry meets tomorrow with the head Palestinian negotiator.
The death toll in Central Indonesia rose to 56 today after a Friday mudslide that flattened a farming village. Fifty-two others remained missing. More than 3,000 rescuers used dogs and excavators to comb through wreckage. teams used their hands to dig out bodies trapped under the mud before carrying them away for burial.
Back in this country, President Obama saluted troops returning from Afghanistan, and marked the end of combat operations there. He traveled to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst told some 3,000 soldiers that their willingness to serve overseas has kept the nation safe.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
That's the selfless character of our military. Those are the precious gifts that you give America not just this time of year, but all year, every year. You never stop serving. You never stop giving. You guys are like Santa in fatigues.
Some 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will stay on in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces and help fight al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Back in Washington, Democrats pushed to make the most of the final days of their Senate majority. They are trying to get confirmation votes on more than 20 stalled presidential nominations, before going home for the year for good. Come January, Republicans will control the Senate.
This was deadline day for Americans enrolling for health coverage on HealthCare.gov. Customers who want a health plan as of January 1 have to sign up by midnight tonight Pacific time. That's 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Eastern time. The federal site covers 37 states. Other states have their own websites with different deadlines.