UK opposition leader refuses to attend Balfour dinner

Jeremy Corbyn
Updated 31 October 2017
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UK opposition leader refuses to attend Balfour dinner

LONDON: The UK’s pro-Palestinian opposition leader has refused to attend a dinner to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, according to reports.
The event is due to be attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
Jeremy Corbyn rejected an invitation to attend the dinner, which is being held to mark 100 years since the declaration that helped paved the way for the creation of a Jewish state.
Corbyn has asked Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, to attend the dinner in his place, The Sunday Times reported.
A spokesman for Corbyn confirmed to Arab News that he would not attend but that Thornberry would go in his place.
The Balfour Declaration, signed on Nov. 2, 1917, pledged the UK government’s support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. 
Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to London, told The Sunday Times that those who oppose the declaration are “extremists” who reject Israel’s right to exist and could be viewed on a par with terrorist groups such as Hamas.
Regev said a “vocal minority” of British students and academics are intent upon the destruction of Israel.
Yet an Arab News/YouGov poll conducted in August found that only a minority of Brits believe the Balfour Declaration is something to be proud of, with the majority in favor of the UK recognizing Palestine as a state.  
The UK government has refused to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, reaffirming instead that it was “proud of its role” in creating the State of Israel.
The Palestinian ambassador to the UK vehemently disagrees with that stance, telling Arab News this month that “the displacement of the Palestinians is a result of that document.”
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, questioned why government ministers are celebrating Balfour but “are doing nothing to acknowledge the devastating impact it has had on Palestinians.”
He told Arab News that the celebrations over the declaration will “inflame and anger.” 
Doyle added: “Jeremy Corbyn is missing the Balfour event but he should be clear about why and not be silent. It should be a strong message that Balfour cannot be celebrated until Palestinian aspirations and rights are met as well.”


Afghanistan announces Muslim Eid holiday cease-fire with Taliban

Updated 50 min 41 sec ago
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Afghanistan announces Muslim Eid holiday cease-fire with Taliban

  • “We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” President Ashraf Ghani said
  • Ghani’s cease-fire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other militant groups such as Daesh

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday announced a cease-fire with Taliban insurgents from Monday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday, despite the heavy fighting seen over recent days in the central city of Ghazni.
“The conditional cease-fire will start tomorrow and it will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it,” he said in an Afghan Independence Day ceremony in Kabul.
“We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” he said.
A senior official in Ghani’s office said the “conditional” cease-fire would run for three months.
It was not immediately clear whether the Taliban had accepted Ghani’s call for a truce during Eid, the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, which officially begins on Tuesday.
This month the Taliban fought an intense battle with Afghan forces to control the strategically important city of Ghazni.
At least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day siege, which eased last week when Afghan soldiers backed by US forces pushed back the heavily armed rebels.
The Taliban said in a statement that they had control over half of Afghanistan.
Blasts, suicide attacks and clashes between hard-line Islamic militants and Afghan forces killed over 1,600 civilians in the first six months of the year, the highest number in the past decade, the United Nations said in a statement on Sunday.
Ghani’s cease-fire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other militant groups such as Daesh.