Kuwait to host Iraq reconstruction summit

Destroyed buildings from clashes are seen in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq July 10, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 January 2018
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Kuwait to host Iraq reconstruction summit

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will host an international conference in February on the reconstruction of war-torn Iraq, in cooperation with the World Bank and private companies, it said Monday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said that despite “past wounds” — a reference to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait — his country had a “moral, humanitarian and Arab” duty to support its neighbor.
“The stability of Iraq is the stability of Kuwait and the region,” he said.
Iraqi forces have regained swathes of territory from the Daesh group since the jihadists seized a third of Iraq and large parts of Syria in 2014.
In December, Baghdad declared victory over the group following three years of war.
The Kuwait conference, from February 12-14, will devote its second day to the role of the private sector and civil society organizations in reconstruction, Jarallah said.
Mehdi Al-Alaq, the secretary general of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, said Baghdad and the World Bank had estimated reconstruction would cost at least $100 billion (84 billion euros).
“ISIS displaced 5 million people,” he said, speaking alongside Jarallah in Kuwait City.
“We succeeded in returning half to their areas, but we need international support to return the rest of the displaced.”
The International Organization for Migration said last week that by the end of 2017, more than 3.2 million Iraqis had returned home, but 2.6 million remained displaced.
Nearly one third are reported to have returned to houses that have been significantly or completely damaged, it said.
Alaq said heavy damage had also affected oil, electricity, transport, communications and manufacturing infrastructure as well as basic services such as water and sanitation.
Some Iraqis have complained of delays by central authorities in launching reconstruction efforts.
Baghdad has argued that the world “owes” it a program similar to the United States’ multi-billion dollar post-war Marshall Plan for Europe.


Israel to build 2,500 new settler homes

Many Palestinians regard the announcement of the new settlements as being directly linked to the recent opening of the new US Embassy and the killings in Gaza. (Reuters)
Updated 21 min 46 sec ago
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Israel to build 2,500 new settler homes

  • The stark warning comes after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed on Thursday that he would seek final approval for 2,500 homes to be built across 30 settlements.
  • They are working to superimpose greater Israel on all of historic Palestine, says Hanan Ashrawi

AMMAN, Jordan: Israel’s decision to build thousands of new homes for settlers in the occupied West Bank has “ended the two-state solution,” according to Palestinian officials.

The stark warning comes after Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed on Thursday that he would seek final approval for 2,500 homes to be built across 30 settlements. The work is likely to be approved at a planning committee meting next week.

The timing of Lieberman’s announcement is regarded as particularly provocative by Palestinian officials, still angered by the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the killing of 60 protesters in Gaza on May 15.

In a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian president, said: “The continuation of the settlement policy, statements by American officials supporting settlements, and incitement by Israeli ministers have ended the two-state solution and ended the American role in the region.”

The 2,500 houses, which are illegal under international law, will be spread across the occupied West Bank, with construction work due to begin immediately after approval is granted. The new houses will include 400 dwellings in Ariel, north of Jerusalem, and 460 in Ma’ale Adumim, a city already inhabited by about 40,000 people. Lieberman also said that “in coming months” he would push for the approval of another 1,400 settler houses now in the preliminary stages of planning.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, said the plans reveal “the real nature of Israeli colonialism, expansionism and lawlessness.”

She said: “Undoubtedly, Israel is deliberately working to enhance its extremist Jewish settler population and to superimpose greater Israel on all of historic Palestine.”

In an appeal to the International Criminal Court earlier this week, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry branded Israeli settlements “the single most dangerous threat to Palestinian lives and livelihoods.” 

Ashrawi called for the legal body to “open an immediate criminal investigation into Israel’s flagrant violations of international law.”

According to a June 2017 article in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, more than 380,000 settlers live in the West Bank, with more than 40 percent based outside official settlements. Many Palestinians regard the announcement of the new settlements as being directly linked to the recent opening of the new US embassy and the killings in Gaza.

Khalil Tufakji, director of the maps and survey department at the Arab Studies Society, a Jerusalem-based NGO, told Arab News that the houses were designed to placate demands from the Israeli rightwing to create “a single state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.”