Storm forces William and Kate’s royal plane to abandon Islamabad landing

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The RAF Voyager aircraft that the The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled is seen, in Lahore, Pakistan. (Reuters)
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Britain's Prince William and his wife Britain's Catherine visit the historical Badshahi mosque in Lahore. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2019

Storm forces William and Kate’s royal plane to abandon Islamabad landing

  • British Royal Air Force jet was caught in one of the thunderous storms that periodically rock the capital in October
  • “If I’m honest ... that was the most nervous I’ve ever felt in a plane,” added ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship

LAHORE: A fierce storm in Islamabad forced a plane carrying Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate to abandon two landings before returning to Lahore late Thursday, reporters traveling with them said, in a dramatic end to a day of cracking cricket balls and touring the towering historic Badshahi Mosque.
The Voyager, a British Royal Air Force jet transporting the couple during their five-day tour of Pakistan, was caught in one of the thunderous storms that periodically rock the capital in October.
“The pilot circled for an hour but the lightening — and turbulence — was so bad we had to fly back,” tweeted the Daily Mail’s royal correspondent Rebecca English, who was on board the plane.
“Few of us have experienced turbulence as bad as that,” she added.
“If I’m honest ... that was the most nervous I’ve ever felt in a plane,” added ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship.
Daily Telegraph correspondent Ben Farmer said the pilot had tried to land twice, once at a military base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi adjacent to Islamabad, and once at Islamabad International before abandoning the attempt and returning to Lahore, some 270 kilometers (170 miles) flying distance away.
However all on board appeared to be safe, with English tweeting that Prince William — himself a pilot — had joked with the press pack that he had been flying.
English said it was unclear when they would be able to take off again. There was no immediate statement from Kensington Palace.


The mid-air flight drama came after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had spent the day exploring Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital.
The royal couple kicked off their fourth day in Pakistan with a visit to the SOS Children’s Village orphanage, where Kate gave a brief speech along with a short greeting in Urdu and celebrated children’s birthdays.
“Earlier this year I talked about the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. The village we’ve seen here today is the best representation of that ideal that I could have possibly imagined,” she said.
The Duke and Duchess later took to the crease at the National Cricket Academy, where they both hit a few runs as they played alongside a host of current and former cricket stars, including current bowling coach Waqar Younis.
After an outfit change, the duo headed to Lahore’s famous Badshahi Mosque — one of the world’s largest.
William sported a cream-colored linen suit and Kate donned a light green shalwar kameez, wrapping her hair in a matching headscarf and walking in stockinged feet to show her respect.
William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, caused a controversy at the same mosque in 1991 when she wore an above-the-knee dress, sparking a backlash from some Muslim leaders who argued she should have covered up.
The couple rounded off the trip with a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, founded by Prime Minister Imran Khan, where Diana is remembered fondly for helping raise money for the facility in the 1990s.
Kensington Palace has called the Cambridges’ five-day trip, which ends Friday, their “most complex” tour to date as the royals seek to boost ties between Britain and the second largest country in the Commonwealth.
The couple have spent much of the trip promoting various causes, from girls’ education to conservation and climate change awareness as they criss-crossed the country.
Security has improved dramatically since the army intensified a crackdown on militant groups in 2015, with several countries changing their travel warnings for Pakistan as a result, and Islamabad eager to promote both tourism and foreign investment.
There are promising signs, such as the British Airways return earlier this year after more than a decade, and the slow but steady revival of international cricket.


Court says EU states must label Israeli settlement products

Updated 12 November 2019

Court says EU states must label Israeli settlement products

  • Consumers will be able to make choices based on ethical considerations and those relating to the observance of international law
  • The ECJ ruling effectively backs the EU guidelines issued in 2015 on labelling goods from Israeli-occupied areas

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that EU countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels, in a decision that was welcomed by rights groups but sparked anger in Israel.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that when products come from an Israeli settlement, their labels must provide an “indication of that provenance” so that consumers can make “informed choices” when they shop.
The EU rejects Israeli settlement expansion, saying it undermines the hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up lands claimed by the Palestinians. Israel says the labeling is unfair and discriminatory and says other countries involved in disputes over land are not similarly sanctioned.
The volume of settlement goods coming into Europe, including olive oil, fruit and wine but also industrial products, is relatively small compared to the political significance of the court ruling. It is estimated to affect about 1% of imports from Israel, which amount to about 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) a year.
The EU wants any produce made in the settlements to be easily identifiable to shoppers and insists that it must not carry the generic “Made in Israel” tag.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and began settling both areas shortly afterward. The Palestinians claim both areas as parts of a future state, a position that has global support.
The international community opposes settlement construction and they are consider illegal under international law. Their continued growth is seen to undermine the establishment of an independent Palestine alongside Israel. Today, nearly 700,000 Israelis live in the two areas, almost 10% of the country’s Jewish population.
The ECJ underlined that settlements “give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.”
It said any failure to identify the point of origin of produce meant that “consumers have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect, that a foodstuff comes from a locality or a set of localities constituting a settlement established in one of those territories in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law.”
It’s not entirely clear, however, how the ruling will be enforced because the real origin of the produce is not always easy to identify, experts say.
The European Commission said it’s up to individual EU countries to ensure that labels are correct, but that the origin of settlement produce must be made known in a way that is “not misleading to the consumer.”

An Israeli settler prepares olive oil containers at the Achia Olive press factory in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank. (File AFP)

Human Rights Watch welcomed the ruling. The rights watchdog’s EU Director, Lotte Leicht, said it’s “an important step toward EU member states upholding their duty not to participate in the fiction that illegal settlements are part of Israel.”
Oxfam’s director in the Palestinian territories, Shane Stevenson, said settlements “are violating the rights and freedoms of Palestinians” and that “consumers have a right to know the origin of the products they purchase, and the impact these purchases have on people’s lives.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected the ruling, saying it set a “double standard” that unfairly singles out Israel when there are dozens of territorial disputes worldwide.
“The European Court of Justice’s ruling is unacceptable both morally and in principle,” said Foreign Minister Israel Katz. “I intend to work with European foreign ministers to prevent the implementation of this gravely flawed policy.”
The head of the local settler council, Israel Ganz, said the ruling is part of “a double standard that discriminates against Jews living and working in their homeland of thousands of years. This decision will directly hurt the Arab population working at these factories, and manufacturing these products.”
Ganz said he did not expect sales to be hurt as settlement products are of “high standards.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, welcomed the ruling as a “first step” and encouraged Europe to ban settlement products altogether. “If they do not allow these illegal products to enter European soil, then that would really serve the cause of justice,” she said.
The case came to court after an Israeli winery based in a settlement near Jerusalem contested France’s application of a previous ECJ court ruling on the labeling. That ruling had backed the use of origin-identifying tags but did not make them legally binding.
The winery’s director, Yaakov Berg, said “the Winery is proud of its contribution to combating this decision and intends to continue the struggle. We are happy to see the support of all the relevant people in Israel and the United States.”
EU Commission Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva noted that Israel has a special trading relationship with the EU, with products originating in its internationally recognized borders benefiting from preferential tariff treatment.
“This situation will remain unchanged,” she said. “The EU does not support any form of boycott or sanctions against Israel.”
How to do business in or with the Israeli settlements has been a tricky issue for companies before. Airbnb stopped listings there last year, before reversing its decision .