Guatemala faces Arab, Muslim boycott after Jerusalem announcement: PLO

A Palestinian protester covering his face with a keffiyeh stands near burning tires during clashes with Israeli soldiers near the Huwara checkpoint, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Palestinians are protesting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2017

Guatemala faces Arab, Muslim boycott after Jerusalem announcement: PLO

AMMAN: Guatemala could soon face a cardamom boycott from Arab and Muslim countries, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Wednesday.
The boycott threat follows Guatemala’s announcement on Monday that it will follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
According to the PLO, Guatemala exports annually $300 million worth of cardamom to Arab and Muslim-majority countries. Cardamom is a major ingredient in Arabic dishes and coffee.
“We’ll be conducting an overall assessment of all our alliances, and will evaluate our relations based on mutual interests, with a clear eye as to who is genuinely supporting the cause of peace in Palestine and who is against our national interests,” Anees Sweidan, head of external relations at the PLO, told Arab News.
Former Guatemalan Vice President Edward Stein has warned of the negative repercussions of a boycott on some 45,000 cardamom farmers in his country.
The Guatemala Export Association sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry calling on the president to rescind his Jerusalem decision, the PLO said.
A deputy Israeli minister on Monday said his country is in touch with at least 10 others over the possible transfer of their embassies to Jerusalem after the US recognized the city as Israel’s capital. He did not name the countries.
The PLO has urged the Arab League to initiate an economic boycott against every country that moves its embassy to Jerusalem. Such a boycott forced Guatemala to reverse a similar decision in the 1990s.
The Palestinian government on Wednesday praised the 129 countries that voted against America’s Jerusalem announcement at the UN General Assembly and urged countries that voted in favor to review their positions.
The government praised South Africa for its decision to downgrade its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, and said Guatemala’s announcement “is contrary to international law and the decisions of the international community,” and puts the country “on the wrong side of history and international law.”
The Arab League on Wednesday said a meeting of Arab foreign ministers will take place in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 6.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

FASTFACT

The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.