Abbas urges UN to end ‘apartheid’ for Palestinians

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)
Updated 21 September 2017
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Abbas urges UN to end ‘apartheid’ for Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday urged the United Nations to end what he described as an “apartheid” regime imposed by Israel in the Palestinian territories.
“We are entrusted and you are entrusted to end apartheid in Palestine,” Abbas told the UN General Assembly in a nearly 45-minute address.
“Can the world accept an apartheid regime in the 21st century?” he asked.
Taking the podium a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas slammed Israel over the construction of new settlements “everywhere,” saying they were putting the two-state solution in jeopardy.
“There is no place left for the state of Palestine and this is not acceptable,” he said.
The United Nations considers settlements illegal under international law and the Security Council in December adopted a resolution demanding an end to the expansion of the Jewish outposts on the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The resolution passed after the United States under the previous administration of Barack Obama declined to use its veto and instead abstained.
The Palestinian leader vowed to push for full recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, a move that would require approval from the Security Council where the United States, Israel’s key ally, holds veto power.
Abbas spoke at the assembly after meeting US President Donald Trump who said he was “working very hard with everybody involved toward peace” but offered little detail.


Sadr’s call for delay in Iraqi government formation deemed impractical

Protesters hand over job requests to government employees in Basra. (Reuters)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Sadr’s call for delay in Iraqi government formation deemed impractical

  • Mass protests have been sweeping the southern provinces since July 8 as anger grows over a serious lack of basic services, such as electricity and drinking water, and the high rates of unemployment and poverty
  • At least 12 protesters were killed and hundreds were wounded, most of them policemen

BAGHDAD: Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, whose political bloc won Iraq’s election on May 12, on Thursday called on all politicians to delay efforts to form a new government until the demands of protesters seeking better services in the south of the country are met.

“The winning political parties in the election have to suspend all political dialogues for forming coalitions until they meet protesters’ rightful demands,” he posted on Twitter. It was his first public comment on the unrest sweeping the south.

However, analysts and even Sadr’s Shiite partners said that suspending the talks is “impractical” and will not help to address the demands of protesters.

“We must expedite the formation of a service government that operates according to clear programs and time limits if we want to meet the demands of the demonstrators,” said a prominent Shiite leader, and one of Sadr’s allies, who asked to remain anonymous.

“There are constitutional deadlines that we must abide by. Parliament must meet immediately after the ratification of the election results to choose the president and complete the steps to form a government.

“It is illogical to wait until the demands of protesters are met because most of these demands need months or years to turn into reality.”

Sadr’s call is seen by many analysts and politicians as an attempt to capitalize on the wave of protests, especially as protesters in Basra and several other provinces already rejected offers made by him to organize mass demonstrations led by his followers.

“There is no contradiction between meeting the demands of the demonstrators and continuing negotiations to form a government,” said Ahmed Jallil, an Iraqi analyst.

“Sadr just feels that he is not controlling the scene this time, after his previous offers were rejected, and his rivals have come close to forming a coalition away from him. So the best way to regain control is by riding the wave of the demonstrations.”

Mass protests have been sweeping the southern provinces since July 8 as anger grows over a serious lack of basic services, such as electricity and drinking water, and the high rates of unemployment and poverty. 

The demonstrations turned violent when protesters stormed Najaf airport and the headquarters of several oil companies in the oil-hub city of Basra, and set fires in many governmental and partisan buildings.

At least 12 protesters were killed and hundreds were wounded, most of them policemen, according to the Iraqi Commission of Human Rights.

The demonstrations are the latest results of the unrest that has plagued the country since the announcement in May of the preliminary results of the parliamentary national elections.

Most Iraqi political leaders have backed the protesters in their “legal” demands.