US to oppose UN Golan resolution, wins Israeli praise

John Bolton, US national security adviser.
Updated 17 November 2018
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US to oppose UN Golan resolution, wins Israeli praise

  • “The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement on Thursday

JERUSALEM: The US said it would oppose for the first time an annual resolution at the UN calling on Israel to rescind its authority in the occupied Golan Heights, drawing praise from Israeli officials.
The Golan Heights form a buffer between Israel and Syria of about 1,200 square km. Israel captured most of it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
It annexed the territory in 1981, a move not recognized internationally.
The US has abstained in previous years on the annual “Occupied Syrian Golan” resolution, which declares Israel’s decision to impose its jurisdiction in the area “null and void,” but Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley said it would vote against the resolution in Friday’s vote.
“The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
“The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone.”
Her comments came after the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in September that he expected Israel to keep the Golan Heights in perpetuity, in an apparent nod toward its claim of sovereignty over the territory.
Since early in Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel has lobbied for formal US endorsement of its control of the Golan.
Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with other world powers, though his national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters in August a similar Golan move was not under discussion.
In the past two years, Trump has twice ordered US-led airstrikes against targets in Syria in response to what Washington called the use of chemical weapons against civilians by President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Israeli officials praised the US move.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called it “extremely important,” saying on Twitter that “no sane person can believe that it (the Golan) should be given to Assad & Iran.”
Tehran has supported Assad during the civil war and Israel has been warning against Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.
Israel has closely monitored the fighting in Syria, where just across the Golan frontier battles have raged in clear view.


Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

Updated 22 min 33 sec ago

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

  • ‘This was tragedy waiting to happen’: International Organization for Migrationspokesman Leonard Doyle
  • IOM demands ‘immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants’

GENEVA: A Sudanese man was shot and killed Thursday as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was tragedy waiting to happen,” IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a statement.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” he added.
The UN agency said its staff had been on site at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when as many as 103 migrants returned to shore resisted being sent back to Libyan detention centers.
When several migrants tried to run away from the guards, “armed men began shooting into the air,” and one migrant was hit by a bullet in the stomach, according to the IOM staff accounts.
“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” the agency said.
The man’s death, it said, stood as “a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe.”
The UN and aid groups have warned that rescued migrants returned to Libya face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centers in the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN, some 5,000 migrant women, children and men remain detained in inhumane conditions in Libya — more than 3,000 of them in areas of active conflict.
In June, an airstrike on the Tajoura detention center killed 53 migrants, including six children.
“That facility remains operational to this day, despite persistent calls to end the arbitrary detention of migrants,” IOM said.
“Alternatives to detention must be found,” it said, stressing that the “increasing reports of abuse and human trafficking from detention centers are truly alarming.”
IOM demanded “immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants.”