French FM says conditions favorable to supply weapons to Lebanon

Lebanese President Michel Aoun holds talks with French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault at the presidential palace of Baabda east of Beirut on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 23 December 2016
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French FM says conditions favorable to supply weapons to Lebanon

BEIRUT: Conditions to implement a multi-billion dollar contract to supply French weapons to Lebanon are now favorable after the formation of a new government in Beirut, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Thursday.
Speaking in the Lebanese capital after meeting President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Ayrault said it was also more important than ever that the new authorities keep up dialogue with Saudi Arabia and Iran to ensure the country was not dragged into the Syrian conflict.
“The conditions are favorable,” Ayrault told reporters during a visit after the formation of the new government on Sunday. “The sun is shining again on Lebanon.”
The equipment was to be supplied by France to bolster the army in its fight against terrorist groups. Ayrault said he and Aoun would soon travel to Saudi Arabia to discuss the contract and wider ties.
“Everything must be done to keep Lebanon out of the Syria conflict,” Ayrault said. “We want Lebanon to keep dialogue with all its regional neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
Lebanon’s President, Michel Aoun, and Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri have formed a new government of 30 ministers drawn from most sides of the country’s political spectrum and from all of its religious sects, the Cabinet office said on Sunday.


Israeli army raids offices of Palestinian NGO

Updated 25 min 51 sec ago

Israeli army raids offices of Palestinian NGO

  • Israeli soldiers forced their way into the offices of prisoner support group Addameer in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah
  • No staff were in the office at that time as thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including five computers were seized

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Israel’s army raided the offices of a prominent Palestinian NGO early Thursday, its director said, in an operation Amnesty International said aimed to “crush peaceful activism.”
Israeli soldiers forced their way into the offices of prisoner support group Addameer in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah at around 2:00 am, the organization’s director Sahar Francis said.
No staff were in the office at that time, she said, but Israeli forces seized thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including five computers.
“They searched the whole office,” Francis said.
Addameer works to support Palestinian prisoners in both Israeli and Palestinian prisons.
Israeli right-wing activists accuse it of links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
The Israeli army did not immediately respond to request for comment on the raid.
Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East Director Saleh Higazi condemned the “chilling raid,” labelling it an Israeli attempt “to crush peaceful activism and silence NGOs.”
“This was a sinister and calculated attack designed to curtail Addameer’s vital human rights work,” he said in a statement.
The NGO, which documents allegations of abuse in Israeli prisons, has been raided twice before, most recently in 2012.
Francis said that time they had smashed the door and also seized computers.
“We never got back the things they stole in 2012, despite making a request,” she said.
An Addameer employee has also been detained without charge since last year under Israel’s administrative detention laws, Amnesty said.
Higazi said the raid was part of an intensifying Israeli campaign against civil society organizations.
Human Rights Watch’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories is currently fighting an Israeli expulsion order over allegations he called for a boycott of Israel.
The country in 2017 passed a law banning entry to foreigners supporting a boycott.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since a 1967 war.
The office is in a part of the West Bank nominally under full Palestinian control, but the Israeli army regularly carries out raids in such areas.