Arab League to lobby UN to recognize Palestinian state

Arab League to lobby UN to recognize Palestinian state
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (R) speaks during a joint conference with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in the Jordanian capital Amman on January 6, 2018. The foreign ministers of six Arab countries met for talks on Jerusalem, after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2018

Arab League to lobby UN to recognize Palestinian state

Arab League to lobby UN to recognize Palestinian state

AMMAN: Arab states will soon embark on a diplomatic drive to persuade the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said.
Six Arab foreign ministers met in Amman on Saturday to follow up on earlier decisions taken by the Arab League to counter US President Donald Trump’s move in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision that overturned decades of US policy on the Middle East.
A committee made up of Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and headed by Jordan was set up after an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo shortly after Trump’s decision that called on Washington to abandon its decision.
The Arab League said at the time the move would spur violence throughout the region and described Trump’s announcement as a “dangerous violation of international law” which had no legal impact.
Safadi said the ministers would recommend a series of moves to a full ministerial meeting of the Arab League due later this month.
“We will confront the decision by seeking a (UN) resolution, an international one, to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” said Safadi.
He did not elaborate on the timing of the diplomatic moves nor say whether he was referring to a UN Security Council or General Assembly resolution.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the ministerial meeting would also discuss Washington’s role in future Arab-Israeli peacemaking that members states said was now jeopardized by what they see as US bias toward Israel.
“We want to lessen any losses on the Palestinian side and lessen the Israeli gains,” Aboul Gheit added.
Arab states would also discuss whether to convene an extraordinary summit of their leaders or wait until a scheduled summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh at the end of March, he added.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies, who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence in the region.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital.
Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it from Jordan in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory, and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.
On Dec. 18, the United States blocked a United Nations Security Council call for Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem to be withdrawn.
Three days later, more than 120 countries defied Trump and voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in a resolution that said the status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations.


Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 
Updated 8 min 34 sec ago

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 
  • With millions living in tents across country’s northwest, threat of COVID-19 is severe
  • $1.6m awarded by non-profit organization funded by UK, US, Canadian, Dutch governments

LONDON: Syria’s White Helmets, the civilian rescue group that recovers victims from rubble after airstrikes in the war-torn country, is now making personal protective equipment (PPE) to further its life-saving mission.
The civil defense service, which has worked to reduce the harm of indiscriminate shelling from the Assad regime, has received a $1.6 million award for the production of PPE from a non-profit organization funded by the UK, US, Canadian and Dutch governments.
Funds from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge group have led to the creation of a PPE-producing facility that has manufactured some 2 million masks.
It is also producing protective gowns and face shields — key equipment in the fight against COVID-19 — and handling the disposal of used PPE for northwest Syria’s population, who live in a precarious area that is predominantly out of the regime’s control. 
“The COVID-19 pandemic was the most difficult challenge the White Helmets faced in 2020,” said Munir Mustafa, its deputy general manager for humanitarian affairs.
“We witnessed the spread of the virus in north-western Syria among humanitarian workers and medical personnel, while the global pandemic made cross-borders logistics almost impossible.”
The White Helmets has enhanced community efforts to keep people safe from COVID-19 amid pressing security challenges.
“Our volunteers and fellow humanitarians, health care providers and other essential workers are safer now and can continue caring for Syrian civilians and responding to the pandemic,” Mustafa said.
The White Helmets, established in 2014, was originally formed for search-and-rescue efforts and to broaden the provision of first responders. It claims to have saved some 120,000 lives.
Its role has developed as challenges facing the Syrian people have grown. Violence in the country has demolished health care facilities, decimating communities and cutting off millions from crucial medical care. 
The bombing of civilian areas has forced many to flee to temporary refugee facilities that are often cramped and in poor condition.
With millions living in tents across the country’s northwest, the threat of COVID-19 is severe.
Around 500 cases of COVID-19 are being recorded per day in northwest Syria, but experts say the true number is much higher due to inadequate testing infrastructure.
The Humanitarian Grand Challenge said: “The White Helmets’ ability to manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment inside Syria will not only protect those working in the overwhelmed health system, but reduce the spread of the virus among the most vulnerable.”