Israel summons EU envoy Giaufret in row over controversial bill

Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered that EU ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, above, be reprimanded. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Israel summons EU envoy Giaufret in row over controversial bill

  • The summons is tied to the so-called nation-state law which Netanyahu wants to pass by the end of the month
  • European diplomats have told lawmakers in the country that the law is discriminatory and against democratic principles

JERUSALEM: Israel summoned the EU ambassador on Thursday over allegations of interference in the passage of a controversial law which could pave the way for Jewish-only communities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the foreign ministry to “reprimand” EU envoy Emanuele Giaufret, warning “additional steps” were planned.
The summons is tied to the so-called nation-state law, which Netanyahu wants to pass by the end of the month.
The proposed legislation would allow the state to “authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community.”
That was seen as allowing towns to exclude Arab citizens, who account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population, or even other Jewish communities.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, whose role is mainly symbolic, expressed concerns about the bill in a rare intervention in the country’s politics.
Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit has also raised opposition to the text, which if passed could become part of the country’s basic laws that serve as a de facto constitution.
According to Israel media, European diplomats have told lawmakers in the country that the law is discriminatory and against democratic principles.
Netanyahu’s office accused the European Union of “interfering with Israeli legislation.”
“Apparently they do not understand that Israel is a sovereign state,” his office said.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.