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News Digest: Lord Hill urges calm over £1.7bn EU bill

By Staff Reporters

Britain's new European Commissioner has called for "calm" in the row over the £1.7bn bill being demanded by Brussels.

Lord Hill said the demand had become "highly political" but it was time to look for a practical solution.

The question over Britain's membership of the EU is at a "lively stage" and is a "boil that needs to be lanced", the Conservative peer added.

Chancellor George Osborne will meet finance ministers from the other 27 EU states in Brussels today to begin a review of the bills that have hit the UK and other losers, such as the Netherlands and Italy.

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted the UK will not pay "anything like" the £1.7 billion demanded by the European Union by December 1.

Lord Hill, the EU commissioner for financial services, said: "It seems to me that this is one of those classic examples you get from time to time where something that a group of people think are technical matters suddenly, and in this case for perfectly understandable reasons, become highly political.

"The sensible thing now is to try to calm the situation down," he added.

Boat attack by Israelis 'war crime'

Israeli forces may have committed war crimes when they stormed an aid flotilla boat heading to Gaza in 2010 but the possible crimes are not grave enough to merit a prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the institution's prosecutor said.

"Following a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli defence forces intercepted the 'Gaza Freedom Flotilla' on May 31 2010," Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

However, Ms Bensouda said that any cases relating to the storming "would not be of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the ICC".

Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded when Israeli commandos stormed the ship on May 31, 2010.

100,000 in demonstration over government reforms

One of Belgium's biggest post-war labour demonstrations brought some 100,000 workers to the capital to protest government free-market reforms and austerity measures that they claim undermine the welfare state.

For two hours the demonstrators marched peacefully down the main thoroughfares of central Brussels to protest government policies that will raise the pension age, contain wages and cut into public services.

Violence marred the end of the march, with police firing tear gas and water cannon.

Man 'posted chemical' to Briton for use in suicide

A Maine man has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he mailed a poisonous chemical to a Briton, who used it to kill himself.

Sidney Kilmartin, of Windham, entered his plea yesterday.

Authorities say Kilmartin mailed a poisonous chemical to Andrew Denton, of Hull, who died in 2012.

Kilmartin faces the possibility of life in prison. A newspaper report from 2013 says Mr Denton ordered the poisonous chemical on the internet to kill himself.

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