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.”


Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

Updated 21 March 2019
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Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

  • Philippines being investigated for extrajudicial killings
  • Anti-drug campaign signature policy of president

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he wanted to finish his war on drugs in three years, defying an international probe into his controversial and deadly campaign to rid the country of narcotics.
Duterte, who came to power in 2016, has made a ‘war on drugs’ the hallmark of his administration. 
But it has been reported that 20,000 people have been killed in what rights groups call a wave of “state-sanctioned violence.”
The firebrand president remains unfazed by the condemnation, and the cases filed against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his crackdown.
He insisted he would assume full responsibility for any consequences due to his decision to enforce the law, telling a military audience his goals.
“I’d like to finish this war, both (with the) Abu Sayyaf (a militant group) and also the communists, and the drug problem in about three years … we'd be able (to) ... reduce the activities of the illegal trade and fighting to the barest minimum.
“I’m not saying I am the only one capable (of achieving these goals) ... I assume full responsibility for all that would happen as a consequence of enforcing the law — whether against the criminals, the drug traffickers or the rebels who’d want to destroy government.”
Earlier this month, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC, citing the global body's interference in how the country was run as the reason.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines would continue despite its exit.
But the government has said it will not cooperate with the ICC, and has even warned its personnel about entering the country for the investigation.
There are Filipinos who support Duterte’s campaign, however, and believe it works. Among them is former policeman Eric Advincula.
He said there had been an improvement in the situation since Duterte came to power. 
“For one, the peace and order situation has improved, like for example in villages near our place where there used to be rampant drug peddling,” he told Arab News. 
“The price of illegal drugs is now higher, an indication that the supply also went down. Also, it was easy to catch drug peddlers before because they were doing their trade openly. But now they are more careful, you can't easily locate them.”
Official data from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in February indicated that 5,176 ‘drug personalities’ were killed in the anti-drugs war between July 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2019.
More than 170,000 drug suspects have been arrested during a total of 119,841 anti-narcotics operations in the last two and a half years.