Natural gas fields give Israel a regional political boost

Israel joined the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo, along with Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian authority. Above, an Israeli gas platform in the Mediterranean sea. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Natural gas fields give Israel a regional political boost

  • The new discovery allows Israel to build tighter relations with neighboring countries
  • The inclusion of Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo was the first time Arab countries accept the state into a regional alliance

JERUSALEM: The discovery of natural gas fields off Israel’s coast along the Mediterranean Sea has given the country a geopolitical boost with its neighbors.
It’s tightened relations with Arab allies and built new bridges in a historically hostile region — even without significant progress toward peace with the Palestinians.
Last week’s inclusion of Israel into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo — a consortium aiming to cut infrastructure costs and lower prices — marked the first time Arab countries accepted the Jewish state into such a regional alliance, sparking excitement in Israel that its long-held hope of finally also making “economic peace” with Egypt and Jordan was fast approaching.
The forum, which also includes Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian Authority, aims to emerge as a mini-OPEC of sorts.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.