EU foreign policy chief visits Libya to reopen mission

Federica Mogherini (C), European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, speaks to the press before her departure from Mitiga International Airport, about 8 kilometers east of the capital Tripoli, on July 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2018

EU foreign policy chief visits Libya to reopen mission

  • “The return of the diplomatic presence of the EU in Libya will further strengthen co-operation with the government," said the EU
  • Europe is keen to see stability return to Libya to help stem the flow of migrants

TRIPOLI: The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visited Libya’s capital Tripoli on Saturday to reopen the bloc’s diplomatic presence and border assistance mission.
“The return of the diplomatic presence of the EU in Libya will further strengthen co-operation with the government, local authorities and the United Nations,” the EU said in a statement.
The EU relocated its Libya delegation to Tunisia’s capital Tunis in 2014, as the country was mired into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Mogherini met the head of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Taher Siala, alongside the UN’s envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, the EU said.
Europe is keen to see stability return to Libya to help stem the flow of migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa.
Rival Libyan leaders agreed to a French-brokered deal in May to hold elections by the end of this year, but skepticism remains high over whether a vote can take place.
Mogherini “restated the European Union’s support for the Libyan political process, in the framework provided by the United Nations, including preparations for elections,” the EU said.
Together with Sarraj she also discussed training Libya’s coast guard and securing the country’s land borders, the EU statement added.
Libya is a key transit point for thousands of African migrants trying to reach European shores.
The internationally backed government in Tripoli is opposed by a rival administration in the east supported by strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Mogherini told Sarraj that she was “relieved” a recent oil crisis had been resolved, the GNA said in a statement.
Libya on Wednesday resumed exports from its eastern Oil Crescent, after shipments had been suspended for over two weeks, due to a standoff between the rival administrations.


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”