France asks Israel to drop West Bank annexation plans

Macron told Netanyahu that France remained committed to Israel’s security and “expressed his attachment to the friendship and confidence that links France and Israel.” (File/AFP)
Updated 10 July 2020

France asks Israel to drop West Bank annexation plans

  • Macron said annexation “would jeopardize the possibility of a two-state solution”
  • The controversial move was endorsed in a Middle East plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump in January

PARIS, France: Emmanuel Macron asked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank and elsewhere during a telephone call between the two leaders, the French president’s office said on Friday.
Macron “emphasised that such a move would contravene international law and jeopardize the possibility of a two-state solution as the basis of a fair and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” his office said in a statement after the call on Thursday.
It was the latest move by European leaders pressing Netanyahu to drop plans to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley.
The controversial move was endorsed in a Middle East plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump in January.
Israel’s government had set July 1 as the date when it could begin taking over the Palestinian areas, where the population of Israeli settlers has grown since the 1967 Six-Day War.
The foreign ministries of France and Germany, along with those of Egypt and Jordan — the only Arab states to have peace deals with Israel — warned this week that any annexation could have “consequences” for relations.
But Macron told Netanyahu that France remained committed to Israel’s security and “expressed his attachment to the friendship and confidence that links France and Israel,” his office said.


Strict mask, visor rules make Philippine commuters sweat

Updated 20 September 2020

Strict mask, visor rules make Philippine commuters sweat

  • It is compulsory to wear both masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport in the national capital to curb the spread of the coronavirus

MANILA: In the sweltering heat and humidity, 31-year-old Caitlyn Tojanes grumbles about having to wear a face shield over her mask as she waits in line for her bus in the Philippine capital Manila.
“It’s uncomfortable. Combined with the long queues it means we get to work already tired and bathed in sweat,” said Tojanes, whose commute involves three buses and takes several hours.
But she is resigned to the new normal in the Philippines, where it is now compulsory to wear both masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“With Covid, it’s up to the people to maintain discipline,” said Tojanes, who works as a store manager in the sprawling capital of 12 million where most of the country’s infections have been recorded.
“People should not put the entire burden on the government. We must practice self-discipline.”
The latest measure comes as the country struggles to contain the virus outbreak, recording the highest number of confirmed cases in Southeast Asia with more than 283,000 infections and over 4,900 deaths.
Six months after tough restrictions were introduced to curb the contagion — including stay-at-home orders, travel bans and no talking on buses and trains — infections are still rising by several thousand every day.
Some measures have been eased to help kickstart the devastated economy.
“It’s a big adjustment having to wear a mask and a face shield and having to wash your hands with alcohol each time you touch something,” said Jeff Langurayan, 31, his voice slightly muffled by the layers of material and plastic over his face.
But he accepts the need for precautions.
“A lot of people have died and you do not know what will hit you and what effect it would have on your body.”