Gulf states announce humanitarian gesture to help families with Qatari members

Cars drive in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 June 2017

Gulf states announce humanitarian gesture to help families with Qatari members

JEDDAH: As the week-long Qatari crisis drags on without a clear commitment from Doha to renounce terrorism, three Gulf states announced on Sunday a humanitarian gesture to help families with Qatari members.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE announced hotlines to help affected families, as Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to “counterterrorism and extremism” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Kuwait, which is trying to mediate a solution to the regional crisis, on Sunday said Qatar is ready to listen to the concerns of Gulf states that have cut diplomatic and economic ties.
Kuwait “affirms the readiness of the brothers in Qatar to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavors to enhance security and stability,” Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA quoted Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah as saying.
Kuwait, which has retained ties with Qatar and has often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, said it wanted to resolve the dispute “within the unified Gulf house.”
In another development Sunday, Iran sent four cargo planes of food to Doha. Five aircraft carrying around 90 tons of vegetables each had been sent to Qatar in recent days, said Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi, adding: “We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand.”
In addition, African Union (AU) Chairman Alpha Conde on Sunday put himself forward as a mediator in the crisis, and urged dialogue after several African nations recalled their ambassadors to Qatar.
Conde, who is president of Guinea, which has close ties to Saudi Arabia, said in a letter to King Salman that he had observed with “sadness” the feud between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, which he described as “brother countries” of Muslim-majority Guinea.
“Only dialogue will allow us to reach a real compromise,” Conde added in the letter, praising King Salman’s “wisdom” and “know-how” in battling extremism.
In another setback for Doha, the world soccer body FIFA removed a Qatari referee from a 2018 World Cup qualifier following a request from the UAE.
The Zurich-based organization said it agreed with the UAE that the Qataris due to officiate the game against Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday should be replaced.
Instead, a referee from Singapore will take charge of the qualifier for next year’s tournament in Russia. He will be assisted by a fellow Singaporean and two officials from Malaysia.
— With input from Reuters, AFP, AP


Israeli court bars ‘racist’ candidates from September poll

Updated 38 min 4 sec ago

Israeli court bars ‘racist’ candidates from September poll

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Supreme Court has barred two members of an extreme-right party many view as racist from running in a September 17 general election.
The court ruled that candidates Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel, of the Jewish Power party could not stand, quoting a law barring “incitement to racism” by candidates, according to a court statement late Sunday.
Jewish Power members are followers of late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement wanted to chase Arabs from Israel.
The ideology of Kahane, assassinated in New York in 1990, also inspired Baruch Goldstein, who carried out a massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers in Hebron in 1994.
The court rejected petitions to ban the Jewish Power as a party and upheld the candidacy of West Bank settler Itamar Ben-Gvir, who heads its electoral list.
Ben-Gvir acknowledges having a picture of Goldstein in his living room, but has reportedly said it is because he was a physician who rescued Jews targeted in Palestinian attacks.
Indicted 53 times since his youth, Ben-Gvir boasts of having been cleared in 46 cases. He decided to study law on the recommendation of judges so he could defend himself.
He now represents settlers accused of violence, including those allegedly responsible for an arson attack that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian boy and his parents in 2015 in the West Bank, an incident that drew widespread revulsion.
Jewish Power advocates removing “Israel’s enemies from our land,” a reference to Palestinians and Arab Israelis who carry out attacks.
It also calls for Israel annexing the occupied West Bank, where more than 2.5 million Palestinians live.
Alone it was considered unlikely to garner the 3.25 percent of votes cast necessary to get into parliament.
But a deal mentored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw it entering an electoral alliance with two other far-right parties, improving its chances.
The pact drew disgust from many in Israel and among Jewish communities abroad, particularly in the United States.
For Netanyahu, the deal ahead of what is expected to be a close election was pure politics.
He defended it by saying he does not want any right-wing votes to go to waste as he plans his next coalition.