Watchdog fears seizure of more land in West Bank

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes near the Jewish settlement of Qadomem, in the West Bank village of Kofr Qadom near Nablus on Thursday, November 17, 2017. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Updated 18 November 2017
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Watchdog fears seizure of more land in West Bank

JERUSALEM: An Israeli settlement watchdog has denounced a legal opinion by the attorney general (AG), saying it could pave the way for the seizure of more Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in a legal opinion that Israel could, in certain circumstances, confiscate private Palestinian land for the benefit of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
Settlement watchdog Peace Now denounced the development in a statement.
“It appears that the AG is attempting to remove the last legal (and moral) barrier on the road to turn theft and expulsion into a formal way of establishing settlements in the occupied territories,” it said.
Peace Now and other observers said Mandelblit’s opinion, which was made public on Wednesday, breaks with former positions on the confiscation of private Palestinian land for state use.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Its settlements are deemed illegal under international law and widely seen as the main obstacle to peace.
Mandelblit’s legal opinion is tied to Haresha, an “illegal outpost” west of the city of Ramallah, on the West Bank, said Peace Now.
It said the attorney general “seeks to approve the confiscation of private Palestinian lands in order to legalize an access road” to Haresha.
“Confiscating the land would constitute a severe violation of international humanitarian law and of the Palestinians’ right to own property.
“The AG’s legal opinion regarding the access road might lead to additional confiscations of private Palestinian lands,” and could “strengthen Israel’s hold over Palestinian territory,” said Peace Now.
Mandelblit issued his opinion after Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a staunch supporter of settlements, urged him to reconsider an earlier legal opinion concerning the road leading to the Haresha outpost.
International law sees all Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not.
More than 600,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem among 2.9 million Palestinians, with frequent outbreaks of violence.


Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

Updated 15 min 33 sec ago
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Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

  • Egyptian lawyer calls for the arrest of Kuwaiti MP who condemned comments from minister over attack
  • Fatma Aziz says she was injured after she was attacked by a group of Kuwaiti women

CAIRO: An attack on an Egyptian woman living in Kuwait has spiralled into a war of words between politicians from the two countries.

Fatma Aziz, an Egyptian expatriate, said she was verbally and physically attacked by a Kuwaiti woman and four others after she complained that they had hit her child with their bikes. 

In a video posted last week, Aziz described how the woman shoved her to the ground and stepped on her face leaving her with a broken finger, torn hair and bruises.

Nabila Makram, Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs, responded to the attack, saying: “The dignity of Egyptian citizens and Egyptian women in specific is a red line. However, we respect Kuwaiti authorities and judiciary.”

But her comments drew the ire of Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem, who sent a barbed tweet on Makram’s direction.

“Dear Minister of Immigration or Minister of Dignity, as long as you respect the Kuwaiti authority and the Kuwaiti judiciary, it is better for you not to address the issue of dignity nor play on people’s emotions,” she said.

“There is no need to gain political and media attention by inciting fear. We treat people with more dignity than their own country.”

The Kuwaiti MPs response sparked anger in Egypt, where the attack is now being investigated by the authorities.

The Egyptian Hama party said the way Al-Hashem has spoken about Egyptian expats was unacceptable.

“She does not represent the people of Kuwait," the statement said, adding that the Kuwaiti people "respect the Egyptian state.”

The attack and ensuing row has been closely followed by the more than half a million Egyptian expats working in Kuwait.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was investigating the attack. 

Khaled Yusri Rizk, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Egyptians abroad, said the Egyptian consulate in Kuwait contacted Aziz.

Egyptian lawyer Amr Abdel Salam submitted a report on the attack to the Attorney General, Nabil Sadiq. The lawyer said Al-Hashem had “insulted an Egyptian public servant” and insulted the Egyptian authorities. 

He urged the Attorney General to take the necessary measures with Kuwait, Interpol and Egyptian ports and airports to arrest Al-Hashem.

“Al-Hashem has provoked the anger of the Egyptian masses through social networking sites, which led to the escalation of public disharmony and damage to the public interest of the Egyptian state,” Salam said.

He said these were criminal offences punishable by imprisonment.

The Kuwaiti MP’s attack on Egypt was also condemned in Kuwait.  

Media personality Aisha Al-Rashed said the Egyptian ambassador to Egypt did not say anything that hurts the people of Kuwait, insisting that Al-Hashem does not represent Kuwaitis.