Hodeida fighting threatens peace efforts, warns UN

Forces loyal to the internationally recognized government have been engaged in heavy fighting with Houthi insurgents since Friday, violating the truce agreed under the Stockholm Agreement. (AFP/File)
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Updated 08 October 2020

Hodeida fighting threatens peace efforts, warns UN

  • Griffiths has been pushing to convince the warring parties to put a nationwide cease-fire in place ahead of comprehensive peace talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the war

AL-MUKALLA: The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has urged warring factions in Yemen to stop fighting in the western city of Hodeida immediately, warning that they risk undermining the Stockholm Agreement and his continuing efforts to reach a peaceful deal.

“This military escalation not only constitutes a violation of the Hodeida cease-fire agreement, but it runs against the spirit of the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations that aim to achieve a nationwide cease-fire, humanitarian and economic measures and the resumption of the political process," Griffiths said in a statement on Thursday.

“I have been engaging with all sides. I call on them to immediately stop the fighting, respect the commitments they made under the Stockholm agreement, and engage with UNMHA’s joint implementation mechanisms,” he said, referring to the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement.

Forces loyal to the internationally recognized government have been engaged in heavy fighting with Houthi insurgents since Friday, violating the truce agreed under the Stockholm Agreement.

Griffiths has been pushing to convince the warring parties to put a nationwide cease-fire in place ahead of comprehensive peace talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the war.

The latest round of fighting broke out on Friday in Hays and Al-Durihim districts when the Houthis launched a major assault on government troops with the aim of breaking a siege on pockets of their forces and seizing control of new areas, local army commanders and state media said. Two days later, fighting broke out in other contested areas in the city of Hodeida, during which the army and the Houthis traded heavy fire that rocked the city.

“Huge explosions as if the war has just started,” Dr. Ashawaq Mahram, a physician from Hodeida city, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Unilateral truce

Shortly after the Griffiths’ appeal, army commanders told Arab News that they had received orders to stop fighting in Hodeida. “Government forces were ordered to show restraint in response to the UN call,” said Abdurrahman Hajari, a military commander of Tehama Resistance, a unit battling Houthis in Hodeida, adding that the Houthis continued shelling government forces in Hodeida on Thursday.

“The Houthis have never adhered to any truce. The Houthis are amassing huge forces along the western coast,” Hajari said.

Also on Thursday, the pro-government Joint Forces said in a statement that hundreds of Houthis, including high-ranking field commanders, have been killed or wounded in Hodeida, adding that the Joint Forces had foiled consecutive Houthi attempts to advance in the province.

Under the Stockholm Agreement, the Yemeni government agreed in 2018 to halt a major military offensive on Houthi-controlled Hodeida, including its seaport, provided the Houthis withdrew from the port and deposited revenues in the central bank in the city. Government troops have been stationed in Al-Khamseen and Sanaa streets, east of Hodeida, since 2018.

In March, the Yemeni government suspended participation in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in Hodeida after a Houthi sniper gunned down a government soldier.

Hundreds of people have been killed since late 2018 in sporadic fighting between the two parties. Yemeni government officials link the escalation in fighting by the Houthis to heavy setbacks that they suffered on other battlefields, including the northern province of Jouf.

Government troops recently announced that they had seized control of a strategic military base in Jouf and pushed deep into Houthi-controlled areas in the province. Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hadrami told official media that the Houthis had intensified attacks in Hodeida to compensate for setbacks in Al-Bayda, Marib and Jouf.
 

 


Court orders authorities to reveal Israeli citizenship criteria to Palestinian Jerusalemites

Updated 26 November 2020

Court orders authorities to reveal Israeli citizenship criteria to Palestinian Jerusalemites

  • Without Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem could not obtain an Israeli passport, vote in national elections, or work in state government jobs
  • Vast majority of Jerusalem’s 330,000 stateless Palestinians have not applied

AMMAN: An Israeli court has forced state authorities to reveal the criteria that need to be met for Palestinian Jerusalem youth to become citizens of Israel.

The judicial order will mean that approximately 20,000 Palestinians aged between 18 and 21 living in East Jerusalem will now know the requirements when petitioning for Israeli citizenship, which is not automatically granted to them as residents of the city.

The vast majority of Jerusalem’s 330,000 stateless Palestinians have not applied, nor have the desire, to become Israelis. But the court decision should in future make the application process easier for those interested in carrying an Israeli passport and having the protection of the Israeli government regarding their legal status.

Jerusalem attorney, Mohammed Dahdal, who has practiced civil and human rights law for more than 30 years, noted that without Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem could not obtain an Israeli passport, vote in national elections, or work in state government jobs, among other things.

However, they did pay taxes to Israel and received social benefits such as national insurance, unemployment payments, and healthcare coverage.

Dahdal told Arab News that after 1988, when Jordan disengaged from the West Bank, which included East Jerusalem, Jerusalemites became stateless citizens. He said the ruling had come about after a Palestinian from Jerusalem had appealed to the court after revealing a loophole in the law.

He noted that the court decision, published by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, made four conditions to ensure receipt of an Israeli passport. “That the applicant has no other citizenship, that they were born in Israel (for Israel, East and West Jerusalem are both parts of Israel), that the applicant is between 18 and 21 years old, and has lived continuously in Israel during the five years preceding applying for citizenship.”

The lawyer added that the Israeli government had fought in court to have the criteria for citizenship kept under wraps.

Former Jordanian member of parliament, Audeh Kawwas, who was on Wednesday appointed as a member of the Jordanian Senate, told Arab News: “If the aim is to solve the statelessness issue of Jerusalemites, I am for it and I have spoken about it (as a committee member) in the World Council of Churches.

“However, if this is an attempt to disenfranchise Palestinians and to make the city more Israeli, then I am totally opposed.”

Hazem Kawasmi, a community activist in Jerusalem, told Arab News that many young Palestinian Jerusalemites were in a desperate situation, as no government or institution was taking care of them and their needs.

He said: “They are living under occupation with daily harassment from the police and Israeli intelligence and face all kinds of racism and enmity.

“Israeli citizenship helps them get high-skilled jobs and it is a prerequisite for many jobs. It helps them travel for tourism or work to Europe and the US without the cumbersome, complicated procedures of getting visas, that is if they get it at all.

“Finally, Israeli citizenship makes the youth feel safe not to lose their residency in Jerusalem and movement and work in Israel,” he added.

Khalil Assali, a member of the Jerusalem Waqf and an observer of Jerusalem affairs, told Arab News that he was doubtful that Israel would speed up the process for granting Israeli citizenship. “They have made this move to show their newly established Arab friends that they are acting democratically.”

Hijazi Risheq, head of the Jerusalem Merchants’ committee, told Arab News that the Israelis were looking for ways to turn the city into a Jewish one. By giving citizenship to youth between the ages of 18 and 21, Israel was aiming to deter them from carrying out hostile acts against Israel and keep them away from the Palestinian National Authority and its security forces, he said.

Jerusalem-based human rights activist, Rifaat Kassis, said: “The idea that Jerusalem is Arab has become an empty slogan. Meanwhile, Israeli racism has become the overriding power that forces Jerusalemites trying to have a dignified life with their families to live under difficult conditions.”