Syria submits chemical details to watchdog

Updated 28 December 2013
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Syria submits chemical details to watchdog

LONDON: Syria has begun supplying details of its chemical arsenal, the world’s chemical weapons watchdog said.
Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, meanwhile, said Damascus wanted a cease-fire in the 30-month war. He said the war is now in stalemate.
Hours before a deadline for President Bashar Assad’s regime to provide details on its arsenal, the Hague-based group tasked with dismantling the arms said it has received an initial report.
“The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons program,” an OPCW statement said.
Its Technical Secretariat is now examining the details, it said.
A UN diplomat said the OPCW had received the Syrian declaration on Thursday. “It is quite lengthy,” he said.
One Western diplomat warned that a failure by Assad to account for all the suspected stockpile would cause world powers to seek immediate action at the UN Security Council to force Damascus to comply.
If there were gaps in the documentation, the diplomat said, “this matter is going to go straight to the Security Council.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke on the telephone about a “strong” UN Security Council resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons.
Syria’s deputy prime minister, meanwhile, said Damascus would call for a cease-fire if long-delayed peace talks in Geneva take place.
“Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side,” Jamil told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
Asked what his government would propose at the stalled Geneva II summit, he replied: “An end to external intervention, a cease-fire and the launching of a peaceful political process.”


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.