Gazans denounce visit by Qatari envoy

Qatari Ambassador to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi (C) leaves following a press conference at the Dar Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City with the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza after Qatar signed an agreement to provide a nine million dollar humanitarian relief grant to residents of the Palestinian enclave. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Gazans denounce visit by Qatari envoy

GAZA CITY: Palestinians on Monday protested against Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi during his visit to the Gaza Strip.
The crowd closed in on the Qatari envoy as he concluded a press conference at the Dar Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where he announced that Doha would donate $9 million in aid to address fuel and medicine shortages in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Emadi was whisked away in his vehicle under Hamas police escort. No one was injured during the protests.
Angry crowds heckled the Qatar emissary criticizing his country and its empty promises and expressed disappointment with the envoy because he refused to address their plight during his statements.
Al-Emadi told the striking workers, most of them hospital staff, that the Palestinian Authority was the only party authorized to discuss the issue of their unpaid salaries.
Other Palestinians tore off the aid banners carrying the photo of the amir of Qatar as well as bringing down the Qatari flag.
The Qatari envoy said earlier Monday that both Israel and Gaza want to contain cross-border violence that has flared in recent days, as he detailed a new emergency fund to aid the blockaded territory.
Earlier Monday, Israel’s military struck what it said was an underground infrastructure site in Gaza in response to rocket fire. The military has struck various targets in Gaza in recent days and killed two Palestinians, who tried to infiltrate Israel after a bomb on the border wounded four Israeli soldiers.
There were no reports of casualties from the latest strike.
“We confirm through our relationship with the two sides that they are not interested in escalation or engaging in a confrontation that could ignite the entire region,” the Qatari envoy, Mohammed Al-Emadi, told reporters in Gaza City.
Al-Emadi, whose country maintains contacts with the Hamas and has hosted its leaders, coordinates Qatar’s relief and reconstruction projects in Gaza. On Monday, he announced details of a $9 million emergency fund for addressing fuel and medicine shortages.
Gaza has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas wrested control of the territory from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007. A dispute over money and revenue collections has stalled a reconciliation deal between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, which Egypt brokered in October.
Abbas has since stepped up financial pressure on Gaza. Hamas says the cuts are endangering the functioning of Gaza hospitals.
The Qatari grant includes $2 million in medical supplies and $500,000 for fuel to power backup generators in Gaza’s public health centers, enough to keep them running for a month.
Trucks loaded with the supplies and decorated with Qatari flags and posters of the oil-rich sheikhdom’s rulers could be seen outside Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital on Monday, where Al-Emadi and UN officials spoke.
Hospital cleaning workers demonstrated their support during the ceremony, holding signs reading “Thank you, Qatar.” They have been on a strike for 10 days, demanding payment from the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Hamas and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority are locked in a dispute over who is responsible for paying them.
The Gaza border area has been generally quiet since a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2014. But it has seen an increase in violence since President Donald Trump’s announcement in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Updated 15 December 2018
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Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

  • The prime minister is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal
  • The embassy will be moved to west Jerusalem, and defense and trade offices will also be established

SYDNEY: Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.
Morrison is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal.
“Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem — being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney on Saturday.
“And we look forward to moving our embassy to west Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” he said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way.
In the interim, Morrison said, Australia would establish a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city.
“Furthermore, recognizing our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in east Jerusalem,” he added.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Most foreign nations have avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until US President Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year.
Morrison first floated a shift in foreign policy in October, which angered Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.
Canberra on Friday told its citizens traveling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution,” warning of protests in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.
Morrison said it was in Australia’s interests to support “liberal democracy” in the Middle East, and took aim at the United Nations he said was a place Israel is “bullied.”