Houthis exploiting businesses, banks: Yemeni govt

A Yemeni soldier mans a machine gun mounted on a military truck near the Red Sea coast city of Al-Mokha, on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 28 January 2017
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Houthis exploiting businesses, banks: Yemeni govt

JEDDAH: Houthi militias in Yemen are exploiting businesses, levying inflated fees, and using bank profits to finance war expenses, the war-torn country’s prime minister has said.
Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said Houthi militias and rebels regrettably still control YER300 billion generated from areas including customs, trade, telecoms, cigarette sales and cement factories.
In a statement to the official Yemeni Press Agency, the country’s prime minister accused the Houthis of exploiting the private manufacturing and service sectors, making them pay more royalties, and using a significant portion of commercial banks’ returns to cover war expenses.
The prime minister added that such funds should be under the control of the legitimate government of Yemen. Leaving them in the hands of Houthis will harm people’s lives by allowing militias to smuggle in weapons used to kill Yemeni people.
Daghr urged Houthi militias and those loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh to desist from the illegal control of central bank branches in Sana’a, and allow them to work under the guidance of the bank’s new board of directors and governor.
On Thursday, Yemen’s Ambassador to the UN Khaled Al-Yamani said rebels in his country use collective punishment against Yemenis in areas under their control, having effectively transformed Yemen into a large prison with thousands of journalists, students, activists, academics and politicians languishing in militia detention centers.
In his speech to a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, Al-Yamani said “rebels, over the past two years, have depleted the state’s resources and capabilities, and trafficked in everything for unholy funds, while sacking billions from the central bank. This pushed the Yemeni government to transfer the central bank to the temporary capital of Aden.”
Al-Yamani said the “government has worked over the past two months to provide the finances needed to pay public servants in the civilian and military sectors their salaries, despite the rebels’ attempts to punish the Yemeni people by threatening all those who cooperate with the government to facilitate the payment of salaries.”
The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid has meanwhile transported 16 injured Yemenis from Taiz to Sudan for treatment.
The group left from Aden International Airport for Sudan in order to receive treatment at the expense of the center.
In a statement Taiz Gov. Ali Al-Maamari praised the center for covering the cost of treatment abroad and transportation of this second group of injured Yemenis.


US sees Palestinian state on most of West Bank, some of East Jerusalem — Israeli TV

Updated 17 January 2019
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US sees Palestinian state on most of West Bank, some of East Jerusalem — Israeli TV

JERUSALEM: Israeli television said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan would propose a Palestinian state on as much as 90 percent of the occupied West Bank, with a capital in East Jerusalem — but not including its holy sites.
The White House, which has kept details of the plan under wraps and said its release could still be months away, dismissed the report by Israel’s Reshet 13 TV as inaccurate speculation.
Citing what it said was a source briefed by the Americans, the television report said the plan would entail Israel annexing Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank while isolated settlements would either be evacuated or their construction halted.
Trump wants the proposed Israeli moves to be supplemented by territorial swaps with the Palestinians, and for East Jerusalem’s walled Old City — site of major Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines — to be under Israeli sovereignty but with the joint management of the Palestinians and Jordan, the report said.
It said “most Arab neighborhoods” in East Jerusalem would be under Palestinian sovereignty as a future capital.
Israel calls all of Jerusalem its “eternal and undivided capital,” a status not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, as capital of a future state.
The report made no mention of the fate of Palestinian refugees, another core dispute in the decades-old conflict, or of how the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas Islamists opposed to peace with Israel, might fit into the plan.
Israeli and Palestinian officials did not immediately respond to the Reshet 13 report.
Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, a main architect of the plan along with the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, said in a message on Twitter the report “is not accurate.” He did not specify, however, what in the report was incorrect.
“Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful Very few people on the planet know what is in it ... for now,” Greenblatt wrote. “Peddling false, distorted or biased stories to the media is irresponsible & harmful to the process.”
In separate remarks to reporters, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, predicted that the Trump plan would not be released before an Israeli election on April 9.
Opinion polls predict an easy win that would secure a fifth term for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a rightist whose US-sponsored peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stalled in 2014.
“From what we understand, it will not be presented before the election,” Danon said. “It’s a smart decision because we don’t want it to become the issue of the elections.”