Palestinians slam US ambassador to Israel over settlements remarks

A Palestinian man argues with Israeli soldiers as they arrest the brother of Nimr Jamal near Ramallah on Tuesday. Jamal was earlier shot dead by Israelis in an illegal settlement outside Jerusalem. (Reuters)
Updated 01 October 2017

Palestinians slam US ambassador to Israel over settlements remarks

AMMAN: Palestinians from all walks of life have condemned US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman over his defense of illegal settlements, while an American-Jewish peace movement has demanded the envoy be recalled.
Friedman caused uproar after telling the Israeli news site Walla that only 2 percent of the West Bank is occupied and that settlements are part of Israel.
Friedman, a known sympathizer with Israel regarding the settlements, had earlier stirred controversy after he used the term “alleged occupation.”
The editorial of the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Quds on Friday slammed Friedman, an American bankruptcy lawyer turned pro-Israeli ambassador.
“The Palestinian leadership has the right to demand from the US side clear positions on these dangerous statements if it indeed doesn’t adopt this extremist line that was represented by Friedman,” the editorial said.
A spokeswoman of the US Department of State stated Friday that US foreign policy regarding settlements “has not changed.”
Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian human-rights defender and activist based in Hebron, West Bank, told Arab News that the American ambassador has aligned himself with extremists.
“This is a declaration of war on Palestinian rights and this statement reflects the US bias with right-wing Israeli extremists which no doubt will embolden these elements into continuing their racist and discriminatory policies,” said Amro, who is also co-founder of the grassroots group Youth Against Settlements.
Amro, who is making a tour of Washington and meeting with top US officials, echoed others in saying Friedman is unqualified to be US ambassador to Israel.
“For a country that is trying to play a neutral role in supporting people, human rights and international law, such a statement reflects a person who is not qualified to represent the Trump administration,” said Amro, who called for the US ambassador to be censured by the international community.
“David Friedman’s name should be added to the list of international companies that deal with the illegal settlements,” Amro told Arab News.
Hanan Ashrawi, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member, also condemned Friedman’s statements.
“In addition to his long-standing support for Israeli settlements, and after referring to the ‘alleged occupation’ of Palestinian land, he has the audacity to maintain that Israel occupies only 2 percent of the West Bank and that illegal settlements that carve, annex and steal Palestinian land are part of Israel,” Ashrawi said.
“The occupation exists. Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a war crime. These facts and realities are not in question.”
Americans for Peace Now (APN) called on President Donald Trump to recall Ambassador Friedman for making statements that blatantly contradict long-held US policy.
“The truth is simple: Friedman is an obstacle to peace, a source of provocation and instability, and is therefore unfit to serve. We call on President Trump to immediately recall him from Tel Aviv and replace him with a person who would better serve our national interests in this sensitive and vital post,” APN said.
Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official and adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam that Friedman is ignorant of both geography and the policies of his own government.
“Friedman is totally biased to the country he is delegated to. I have a hard time understanding someone who is totally ignorant of diplomacy, of the position of the United States of America and ignorant of geography,” Shaath is reported as saying.


LIVE: Middle East renews travel warnings as cases of coronavirus increase in Iran

Updated 29 February 2020

LIVE: Middle East renews travel warnings as cases of coronavirus increase in Iran

  • Kuwait has not registered any new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from Iran would be required to self-isolate for 14 days

DUBAI: Governments in the Middle East renewed warnings for citizens and residents against traveling to coronavirus-hit countries, including Iran, where hundreds were tested positive and the death toll hitting 43 on Saturday.

15:07 - A World Health Organization delegation visited Kuwait and commended the efforts of Gulf states in airports against the spread of coronavirus, despite the high number of travelers.

14:23 - Qatar’s health ministry reported on Saturday the first case of coronavirus infection in the country, the state-run Qatar News Agency said.

The man is a 36 year old Qatari citizen, who returned from a trip to Iran, the ministry added.

14:06 - UAE’s ministry of education suspended nursery classes starting March 1, the announcement said on twitter.

School activities and trips will be suspended to prevent coronavirus spread, the ministry added.

13:00 - Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 43, a health official told state TV on Saturday, adding that the number of infected people across the country has reached 593.
“Unfortunately nine people died of the virus in the last 24 hours. The death toll is 43 now. The new confirmed infected cases since yesterday is 205 that makes the total number of confirmed infected people 593,” Kianush Jahanpur told state TV.

12:48 - Oman announced the first case of coronavirus recovery, the state news agency ONA reported on Saturday.

The remaining cases continue to receive treatments and are reported to be stable.

12:39 - Iran’s government spokesman will hold his weekly news conference online due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, which has the highest death toll outside China, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Saturday.
Iran warned on Friday of a “difficult week ahead” after health authorities said the death toll had reached 34 and another 388 people were infected with the coronavirus.

Also, Iranian MP Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak, who was elected as the representative for Astaneh-ye Ashrafiyeh, died on Saturday morning.

He is believed to have been tested positive for coronavirus and died at the hospital due to “influenza and chemical injuries” receveid during the Iran-Iraq war, state-run news agency ISNA reported.

11:31 - Saudi Arabia called on citizens and residents to postpone unnecessary travel to Lebanon amid concerns over coronavirus.

The Saudi embassy in Lebanon also asked its citizens, located in the Levantine country, to take precautions, avoid crowded places and reach out to the embassy whenever they need help.

Lebanon confirmed its fourth case of the virus on Friday and announced that it was closing all schools until March 8.

10:16 - Kuwait also asked its citizens to avoid traveling over concerns of coronavirus contamination, a health ministry official said at a media conference on Saturday.
The Gulf state has not registered any new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, she said.
The total number of people infected with the disease in Kuwait is 45, the health ministry said on Friday, which has reported no deaths.

9:51 - Australia will deny entry to all foreign nationals traveling from Iran due to the escalating outbreak of coronavirus in the Islamic republic, the government said on Saturday.
Foreign nationals traveling from Iran to Australia would need to spend 14 days in another country from March 1, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
“There is likely at this stage a high level of undetected cases and therefore those cases won’t be intercepted or identified on departure from Iran,” Hunt said.
Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from Iran would be required to self-isolate for 14 days and the travel advice for Australians traveling to Iran has been raised to “do not travel.”
Health authorities on Saturday confirmed the number of cases of coronavirus in Australia was 25 after a 63-year-old woman returning from Iran became ill.
Iran has the highest death toll from the flu-like virus outside of China at 34, although World Health Organization (WHO) experts say the outbreak in the country could be worse than is currently known.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus has fueled fears of a pandemic, with multiple countries reporting their first cases this week as the WHO raised its global risk alert to “very high.”