Netanyahu and Pompeo vow to counter Iranian aggression

Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2019
0

Netanyahu and Pompeo vow to counter Iranian aggression

  • Netanyahu said Trump’s pressure on Israel’s main enemy Iran was already having an effect
  • Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria

JERUSALEM: Top US diplomat Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Wednesday to counter Iranian “aggression” as the two met in Jerusalem just weeks ahead of Israel’s elections.
Pompeo was on a regional tour focused largely on Iran, but the meeting and his warm words on Netanyahu’s leadership will likely be seen as support from US President Donald Trump’s administration amid the Israeli premier’s re-election fight.
Netanyahu, facing a stiff challenge from a centrist alliance in April 9 polls whilst under threat of indictment for corruption, will next week visit Washington, where he will meet twice with Trump.
Pompeo’s visit offered the right-wing premier an opportunity to burnish his security and diplomatic credentials — both key planks of his re-election campaign.
In comments after Pompeo’s arrival, Netanyahu said Trump’s pressure on Israel’s main enemy Iran was already having an effect, referring to his withdrawal from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and Washington’s reimposition of sanctions.
“We need to increase it, we need to expand it, and together the United States and Israel are working in close coordination to roll back Iranian aggression in the region and around the world,” he said.
Pompeo noted a Middle East conference in Warsaw last month that included Arab nations as well as Israel, saying the discussions involved efforts “to stop Iran’s regional rampage” among other issues.
The US secretary of state also spoke of Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction.
“With such threats a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparallelled commitment to Israel’s security and firmly support your right to defend yourself,” he said.
Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria, where the Islamic republic backs President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes there against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
“There is no limitation to our freedom of action, and we appreciate very much the fact that the United States backs up our actions as we do them,” Netanyahu said.
Pompeo’s stay in Jerusalem also included a four-way meeting with Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday night.
The discussions were to include plans to build a natural gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.
Pompeo, who later travels to Lebanon, kicked off his regional tour in Kuwait where he met Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
He is pushing for a greater role for the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a US-sponsored Arab NATO-style bloc aimed at uniting Washington’s Arab allies against Tehran.
Pompeo said before his arrival that his trip to Israel had nothing to do with politics, saying the “relationship matters, no matter who the leaders are.”
No meetings with Netanyahu’s opponents are scheduled, and the secretary of state will not meet with representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
Trump’s administration has taken a series of steps that the Palestinian Authority has deemed so hostile that it now refuses any contact with the US administration.
They included cutting most US aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
President Donald Trump’s decision in December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israeli delighted Netanyahu’s government.
But it enraged Palestinians, who want to make the eastern, mainly Palestinian part of the city the capital of their future state.
Pompeo’s two-day visit to Jerusalem also includes a stop at the new US embassy, which was transferred from Tel Aviv on Trump’s orders last year.
A shift in semantics and policy has also marked the Trump term.
The US has ceased to refer to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-occupied” and instead calls the territory seized from Syria “controlled” by Israel — a change seen by some as a prelude to US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.


OIC body urges Muslim countries to promote culture of reading

Updated 29 min 45 sec ago
0

OIC body urges Muslim countries to promote culture of reading

  • Critical shortage of ‘reading rates’ and ‘lack of access to books’ deplored
  • ISESCO calls on Muslim countries to support publishing industry

RABAT, Morocco: Muslim countries must do more to promote books and reading, the Saudi Press Agency reported one of the world’s largest Islamic organizations as saying.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which was founded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation 40 years ago, called on Muslim countries to improve the publishing industry, provide copyright protection, and preserve manuscripts by digitizing them so that current and future generations could benefit from them.

It made the comments ahead of World Book and Copyright Day, a UN event celebrated on April 23. 

ISESCO said that knowledge and science in Muslim communities soared when printing was discovered, adding that paper books would remain a pillar of culture and a driver for development because civilization was founded on the discovery of writing.

“The media through which knowledge and sciences were transferred have varied with the advent of the information and communications technology revolution,” ISESCO said. “The world now has digital as well as paper books and, in spite of this great leap achieved by humanity to disseminate knowledge and sciences, there is a critical shortage of reading rates, and a large segment of people lack access to books and intermediate technologies. In addition, certain categories of people, such as the visually impaired, do not benefit from a large number of publications.”

The ISESCO statement mentioned statistics that showed an increase in the proportion of published books compared with previous years, which were characterized by a decline in the sector. ISESCO said the functions of paper and digital books were evenly divided.

But the popularity of books and reading could not hide the difficulties and risks facing the written word, it added. Manuscripts faced destruction and theft in some areas of armed conflict and this phenomenon threatened Islamic culture and history, said ISESCO.

The body said that technology could be used to combat book piracy through practical measures such as standardizing legislation, closing legal loopholes and raising awareness about the dangers of piracy.

ISESCO called on member states to give attention to books and reading as well as people with special needs to help them access books.

 

Environment protection

Separately, ISESCO and the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection (PME) had a meeting on Friday in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss the Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World (KSAAEM).

The meeting, held at ISESCO headquarters, was presided over by PME President Khalil bin Musleh Al-Thaqafi and ISESCO Director General, Abdul Aziz Othman Al-Twaijri.

The meeting hailed the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the efforts of the PME and ISESCO in the field of environmental protection in the Islamic world, including raising awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging scientific research through KSAAEM.

The two sides highlighted their coordination, consultation and cooperation to achieve common goals. Mohammed Hussein Al-Qahtani, PME’s director general of media and public relations, commended the efforts made in this area and the results, and said there was a need to develop the award’s media plan to expand its outreach.

Dr. Abdelamajid Tribak, from ISESCO’s Directorate of Science and Technology, gave a presentation on the activities of KSAAEM’s General Secretariat.

He said the number of nominees had risen this year compared to the previous year, with 200 entrants from 40 Islamic and non-Islamic countries.