Bahrain foreign minister calls for fresh Palestinian peace talks during Israel trip

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From left to right, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani hold a press conference after their trilateral meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (AP)
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Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani looks on during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after their trilateral meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (AP)
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The first official Bahraini delegation to Tel Aviv arrives via Gulf Air flight GF972. (Twitter: @bahdiplomatic)
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The first official Bahraini delegation to Tel Aviv arrives via Gulf Air flight GF972. (Twitter: @bahdiplomatic)
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The first official Bahraini delegation to Tel Aviv arrives via Gulf Air flight GF972. (Twitter: @bahdiplomatic)
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Bahrain and Israel look to broaden cooperation that Washington has promoted as an anti-Iran alliance and potential economic bonanza. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Bahrain foreign minister calls for fresh Palestinian peace talks during Israel trip

  • Abdellatif Al-Zayani holds landmark meeting with Pompeo and Netanyahu
  • Bahrain and Israel say they will open embassies

JERUSALEM/DUBAI: Bahrain and Israel said on Wednesday they would open embassies, establish online visa systems and launch weekly flights between the countries soon, in a broadened cooperation promoted by Washington as an economic boon and means of isolating Iran.
On the first official visit by Bahraini officials to Israel, the Gulf kingdom's foreign minister, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, said a Sept. 15 deal normalising relations spelled "a warm peace that will deliver clear benefits to our peoples".
The United Arab Emirates, which has also normalised ties with Israel, sent a delegation last month that did not leave Ben Gurion Airport in what was described as a coronavirus precaution.
The Bahraini envoys went on to Jerusalem, which Israel, with US backing, considers its capital. Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem for a state, have been outraged by the Arab countries' engagement with Israel while their own goals are unmet.
In a possible sign of a rethink, a senior Palestinian official told Reuters that Palestinian ambassadors would return to Abu Dhabi and Manama after having been recalled in protest.

 

 

 

Al-Zayani's trip coincided with a visit to Israel by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who hailed the regional rapprochement brokered by the Trump administration as it presses sanctions against Iran.
The normalisation deals "tell malign actors like the Islamic Republic of Iran that their influence in the region is waning and that they are ever more isolated and shall forever be until they change their direction," Pompeo said alongside his Bahraini counterpart and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Al-Zayani announced that, as of Dec. 1, Bahrainis and Israelis will be able to apply online for entry visas. He also submitted a request to open a Bahraini embassy in Israel and said an Israeli embassy had been approved for Manama.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Askenazi, who is due to visit Manama next month, said he hoped opening ceremonies for the embassies would be held by the end of 2020.
The Bahraini delegation travelled on Gulf Air flight GF972 - a reference to Israel's telephone country code - in what was the airline's first flight to Tel Aviv. Al-Zayani predicted 14 such flights weekly starting next year, as well as flights to the smaller Israeli destinations of Haifa and Eilat.
Sudan followed Bahrain and UAE in announcing last month it would move towards ties with Israel. Further such developments appear unlikely before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Israel was due to send a first delegation to Sudan on Sunday, officials told Reuters, but the trip was postponed over what they described as logistical issues.
Speaking on Israel's Army Radio, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said a commitment towards a tough policy on Iran by Biden would determine whether other countries would opt for normalisation deals with Israel.




The first official Bahraini delegation to Tel Aviv arrives via Gulf Air flight GF972. (Twitter: @bahdiplomatic)

 

 


Five years on, calls continue for justice over killing of Kurdish lawyer

Updated 29 min 58 sec ago

Five years on, calls continue for justice over killing of Kurdish lawyer

  • Elci was a key figure in Turkey’s human rights movement

ANKARA: Kurdish lawyer and prominent human rights activist Tahir Elci’s murder remains unsolved five years after his death amid claims that intelligence neglect may have played a part in the killing.

Elci was a key figure in Turkey’s human rights movement and was also known globally for his efforts to represent human rights’ violations before the European Court of Human Rights.

Nov. 28 marks the fifth anniversary of his assassination while giving a press statement as the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish-majority city in 2015 to protest armed clashes between security forces and the youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

At least 43 international lawyers and human rights organizations joined forces to demand justice for Elci and his family with a joint declaration on Nov. 27. “We are concerned that the prosecution, as well as the court before which this case is being heard, fails to respect fair trial rights. We are further troubled by the Turkish authorities’ continued violation of Turkey’s international legal obligations to carry out a prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigation into the death of one of its citizens and to ensure a fair trial by an impartial and independent tribunal for those accused of the killing of Tahir Elci,” they said.  

His wife, Turkan Elci, wrote a song in Kurdish, “Hewar” (Cry), on the fifth anniversary of his death.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Turkan Elci said that the judicial process around her husband’s killing fitted with the general atmosphere of impunity in Turkey.

She said that the independence of the judiciary could only be ensured if it was not under the influence of the executive: “A judge must decide according to the principles of universal law, the constitution and the law, as well as according to his own conscientious opinion. But it is a very remote possibility for the Tahir Elci case.”

Elci’s lawyers continue to try to ensure that his case file, started only five years after the murder, is not closed and are calling for the identification of the real perpetrators as they believe this is no ordinary assassination.

Following his comments about the outlawed PKK, which he said was not a terror organization but an armed political movement, Elci faced a “lynching” campaign in the mainstream media up until his death. 

A 13-second section of the video footage from police cameras is missing, although Elci was killed within that time frame. The police have also failed to locate the bullet that shot him.

Forensic Architecture, a London-based independent research group, examined footage of the murder and determined that the three police officers at the scene were the most likely suspects. If the three officers accused of killing Elci are convicted they will face two to nine years in prison.

According to Ayse Bingol Demir, a human rights lawyer and co-director of the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, ensuring a fair trial is extremely important for several reasons.

“First, Tahir Elci was a human rights lawyer who was killed while advocating ... for ending the violence in the Kurdish region. He was a prominent figure in the human rights community, especially known for his fight against impunity and systemic human rights violations committed by the state security forces,” she told Arab News.

For Demir, Elci’s killing in broad daylight — in the presence of the press and many others — and the failure of the judiciary to carry out an effective investigation into the incident, has had a severe impact not only on his family but the wider community in Turkey.

“Second, the main issue in this case is a violation of Tahir Elci’s right to life, one of the core rights under international human rights law. Tahir Elci’s family are entitled to the right to truth, access to justice, and an effective remedy for the violation they and their loved ones have been subject to,” she said.