Head of UN mission monitoring Hodeidah ceasefire arrives in Yemen

Retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert will first meet government officials in Aden. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 December 2018

Head of UN mission monitoring Hodeidah ceasefire arrives in Yemen

  • The UN Security Council unanimously approved the deployment of a UN advance team to monitor a cease-fire in Yemen
  • Patrick Cammaert will travel to Sana’a and then to the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah

JEDDAH: UN monitors arrived in Yemen on Saturday to monitor a fragile cease-fire in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

The head of the team, retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, flew into Aden in southern Yemen, seat of the internationally recognized government backed by the Saudi-led coalition.

He will travel later to the capital, Sanaa, which is held by Iran-backed Houthi militias, and then by road to Hodeidah. Other members of the team flew directly to Sanaa from Amman in Jordan.

The sides in Yemen’s war agreed at UN-sponsored talks in Sweden this month to stop fighting in Hodeidah city and its province and withdraw forces. The truce began on Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city.

On Friday the UN Security Council unanimously approved an initial 30-day deployment of Cammaert’s advance monitoring team. 

They will not be uniformed or armed, the UN has said, but will provide support for the management and inspections at the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa, and strengthen the UN presence.

The agreement reached in Sweden, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts in five years, is meant to pave the way for a wider cease-fire in Yemen and a second round of talks in January on a framework for political negotiations.

The UN views confidence-building measures in Hodeidah, and preventing a full-scale government and coalition military assault on the city, as a crucial first step. 

The port is the main entry point to Yemen for food and humanitarian aid, but it is also a key smuggling route for Iranian arms and ammunition to the Houthis, including parts for missiles fired at Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni government pledged its commitment to the agreement reached in Sweden and said it would work “in a positive spirit” with UN envoy Martin Griffiths toward a lasting political agreement to end the war.

Khalid Manzalawi, Saudi Arabia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said the UN resolution meant the Houthis “would lose their margin of maneuver.”

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 36 min 21 sec ago

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.