Israel’s foreign minister says he hopes Corbyn loses British election

Israel’s foreign minister says he hopes Corbyn loses British election
(File/AFP)
Updated 05 December 2019

Israel’s foreign minister says he hopes Corbyn loses British election

Israel’s foreign minister says he hopes Corbyn loses British election
  • Last year, Corbyn said he would recognize a Palestinian state if elected
  • On Tuesday, Corbyn made a direct apology for not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism in his party

JERUSALEM: Israel’s foreign minister said on Thursday that he hopes Jeremy Corbyn loses next week’s British election, citing allegations of anti-Semitism buffeting the Labour Party leader.
With Israel in political disarray of its own after two inconclusive elections, the British contest has elicited few comments from Israeli leaders despite deep concern among British Jews over Corbyn and media reports that some might opt to emigrate if he wins.
Last week, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the Israeli government had not discussed the prospect of Corbyn’s election or the future of intelligence and security ties with Britain should the veteran pro-Palestinian campaigner become its leader.
But pressed on the issue in an Israeli Army Radio interview on Thursday, Katz was more forthcoming as the Dec. 12 ballot approaches.
“I won’t meddle in internal elections but I personally hope that he won’t be elected, with this whole wave of anti-Semitism...I hope the other side wins,” he said.
Labour Party spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Katz played down the prospect that security relations with Britain, which include intelligence sharing over Islamist militant activity, would necessarily be degraded should Corbyn take office.
“Leaders don’t harm their country’s own interests so fast. But we will of course discuss these things if they occur,” Katz said.
Corbyn has rejected allegations of anti-Semitism — last week Britain’s chief rabbi accused him of failing to stem the “poison” gripping Labour — while holding to policies that rile Israel.
Last year, Corbyn said he would recognize a Palestinian state if elected. In a speech on Sunday, he pledged increased oversight of British arms exports to Israel in the name of not fueling its conflict with the Palestinians.
On Tuesday, Corbyn made a direct apology for not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism in his party.
“Obviously I’m very sorry for everything that has happened,” he said. “But I want to make this clear, I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it.”
Polls have shown Labour trailing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. And for now, Israel does not appear to be bracing for any influx of British Jewish immigrants.
Asked about this possibility, its Immigration Ministry said in a brief statement only that it “is prepared to take in immigrants from all over the world and welcomes immigration in any political situation.”
The quasi-governmental Jewish Agency for Israel, which handles immigration requests abroad, said 507 British Jews moved to Israel between January and October, an 8% rise compared with the same period in 2018.
Yigal Palmor, the agency’s head of international relations, played down any sense that Corbyn’s candidacy was a major spur for British Jews to leave.
“We have no solid findings to show an increase in British immigration (due to the elections). What we have are more general indications — more discussions of the option,” he said.


Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park

Updated 02 December 2020

Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park

Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park
  • In 2018, Pygmies began to move onto land inside the perimeter of Kahuzi-Biega National Park and started to cut down trees, mainly to make charcoal
  • According to park authorities, Pygmies have destroyed vast acres of woodland — an act of deforestation that gnaws away at the habitat of endangered gorillas

BUKAVU, DR Congo: Three Pygmies and a soldier were killed in clashes near DR Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, military sources and local officials said Wednesday, as calls grow for protection of the country’s indigenous peoples.
The national park, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday, is a haven for critically endangered gorillas but faces an emerging threat from a conflict between rangers and local Pygmies, who claim they were robbed of ancestral lands when the park was extended in the 1970s.
The central African country’s parliament is currently considering a law to guarantee the rights of Pygmies.
Clashes erupted on Monday in the nearby village of Kabamba in South Kivu province, military sources and the territory’s administrator Thadee Miderho said Wednesday.
In addition to the four killed, others were wounded, they said.
The Pygmies wanted to retrieve bags of charcoal seized by the military, according to Miderho.
In 2018, Pygmies began to move onto land inside the park’s perimeter and started to cut down trees, mainly to make charcoal.
According to park authorities, Pygmies have destroyed vast acres of woodland — an act of deforestation that gnaws away at the gorillas’ habitat.
Their return led to open conflict between Pygmies and rangers in which people on both sides have been killed.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park celebrated 50 years of existence on Monday, priding itself as “a sanctuary and refuge” of eastern lowland gorillas.
Meanwhile a civil society group in the territory of Kabare wrote an open letter to UNESCO asking for it to help “save” the Pygmies.
“Fifty years later, the existence of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park = 50 years of suffering of our Pygmies brothers and sisters,” the group wrote.
In the capital Kinshasa, the National Assembly passed a bill on November 26 for the “protection and promotion of the rights of the indigenous Pygmy peoples,” which will now be considered by the Senate.
“In the Democratic Republic of Congo, unlike other indigenous ethnic groups, the Pygmies have not always received special attention as an indigenous group,” parliament acknowledged in a memorandum.
The proposed law guarantees the recognition of the culture of the Pygmies, easy access to justice and social services, and “full access to the land.”