Palestinians consider recalling envoy over Brazil’s Jerusalem trade mission

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on March 31, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 April 2019
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Palestinians consider recalling envoy over Brazil’s Jerusalem trade mission

BRASILIA: The Palestinian ambassador to Brazil said on Monday he may be recalled home after right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s new government said it will open a trade mission to Israel in Jerusalem.
Brazil’s announcement on Sunday came during a visit by Bolsonaro to Israel. It stopped short of following the United States with a full embassy move to the contested city of Jerusalem, as Bolsonaro had suggested in January. Like most countries, Brazil has an embassy in Tel Aviv.
Bolsonaro’s original proposal angered the Muslim world, and senior Brazilian officials backed away from it for fear of damaging ties with Arab countries and jeopardizing billions of dollars in Brazilian halal meat exports.
Presidential spokesman Otavio Rego Barros said on Sunday the trade mission would not be a diplomatic representation, but the move drew anger from the Palestinians.
Brazil has not officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Most world powers say the city’s status should only be decided as part of a peace process with the Palestinians.
Palestinian Ambassador in Brasilia Ibrahim Alzeban told Reuters that he may be recalled, although a response was still under consideration.
“From what I was told, it will depend on how (Bolsonaro’s) visit evolves,” Alzeban said. “We wish that the subject of Jerusalem had not been touched upon.”
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday the opening of the Jerusalem trade office was as a “a flagrant violation of international legitimacy (and) direct aggression against our people and their rights.”
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state in the territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Alzeban said the Palestinians were also upset because Bolsonaro did not consider a visit to the Palestinian territories or coordinate his visit with Palestinian authorities.
Bolsonaro is an outspoken admirer of US President Donald Trump, who broke with consensus by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he hopes that Brazil’s Jerusalem trade office is a step toward moving the embassy to the city.
“There is no recognition of Jerusalem as the capital,” Brazilian presidential spokesman Barros said. “Our president continues to evaluate this possibility (of moving the embassy), but that is not what we decided at this time.”


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 48 min 19 sec ago
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.