New Israeli govt dealt blow in controversial citizenship vote

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked gives a statement at the Knesset (Parliament) in Jerusalem on July 5, 2021. (AFP)
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked gives a statement at the Knesset (Parliament) in Jerusalem on July 5, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 07 July 2021

New Israeli govt dealt blow in controversial citizenship vote

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked gives a statement at the Knesset (Parliament) in Jerusalem on July 5, 2021. (AFP)
  • Officials will find new ways to stop residency, citizenship through marriage for Palestinians: Experts

AMMAN: Israel’s Knesset early on Tuesday failed to renew a temporary law that bars Arab citizens from extending citizenship or residency rights to spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The 59-59 vote in parliament marked a major setback for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law was enacted as a temporary measure in 2003, at the height of the Second Intifada.

Bennett had hoped to find a compromise between hard line and moderate factions within his coalition. But he suffered a stinging defeat in a vote he reportedly described as “a referendum on the new government.”

The law is now set to expire at midnight on Tuesday.

However, experts warm that Israeli security officials will find new ways of keeping Palestinians from obtaining residency or citizenship through marriage.

Jafar Farah, head of the Mossawa Center in Haifa, told Arab News that the defeat of the law came as a result of “advocacy, protests by families and hard work by many.”

Farah said: “We and the affected families organized dozens of meetings with parliamentarians, the media and other groups to explain the difficulties that married families have to go through to be together.”

He called on parliamentarians to “continue the struggle” until an appropriate family reunification law is enacted.

“The Israeli policy allows any Jew in the world to get permanent citizenship once they arrive at the airport, while at the same time, it perpetuates the division of Palestinian families using security and demographics excuses,” Farah said.

Um Yasmin, a Palestinian mother from Jerusalem who married a Palestinian from Bethlehem, told Arab News that she hopes that the absence of the law will help her family lead a normal life.

“We have been forced to have two homes in order not to lose our right to live in Jerusalem,” she said.

Wadie Abu Nassar, director of the Haifa-based International Center for Consultations, told Arab News that the failure of the coalition in the Knesset indicates a growing leadership crisis in Israel.

“Naftali Bennett and Mansour Abbas (leader of the United Arab List) showed that they are unable to control their own parties and mind the gaps among the components of the coalition, which they created just a few weeks ago,” he said.

But Abu Nassar added that he was unsure whether the absence of this law will affect separated families.

“While 1,600 Palestinian families, who were supposed to get some quick easing in the process of unification — as part of the deal between Israel’s interior minister and Mansour Abbas — will not get immediate relief, Israel’s secret service would have to work a lot to examine case by case instead of hiding behind the law for declining requests for family unifications,” he said.

Jessica Montell, director of HaMoked, an Israeli human rights organization based in Jerusalem, told Arab News that the majority of those affected by the law are Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

“About 70 percent of the persons affected by this law are residents of East Jerusalem and not Israeli citizens. In fact, the law disproportionately harms the weakest population: Women from poor families with few tools to navigate this hostile bureaucracy,” she said.

Shawan Jabarin, director of Al-Haq Human rights organization, told Arab News that the law has always had racist underpinnings.

He said: “Israel’s racist policies are being exposed bit by bit. This was a political law that was hiding behind security cover. Palestinian families have suffered for 18 years. Isn’t that enough?”

The Knesset enacted the law in July 2003. It forbids Israelis married to, or who will marry in the future, residents of the occupied territories from living in Israel with their spouses.

Israelis married to foreign nationals who are not residents of the occupied territories are still allowed to submit requests for family unification on their behalf.

The controversial law received strong international condemnation at the time of its introduction.

The Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination unanimously approved in August 2003 a resolution saying the Israeli law violated an international human rights treaty.

 


Egypt reaffirms solidarity with UAE after Houthi attack

Egypt reaffirms solidarity with UAE after Houthi attack
Updated 12 sec ago

Egypt reaffirms solidarity with UAE after Houthi attack

Egypt reaffirms solidarity with UAE after Houthi attack
  • Two Egyptians were confirmed to have been injured

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has reaffirmed his country’s condemnation of Monday’s attack against the UAE by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia.

Two Egyptians were confirmed to have been injured. Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said El-Sisi called Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, “expressing condolences for the victims of the treacherous attack.”

El-Sisi also expressed “Egypt’s support and solidarity with the UAE, and the steps and measures it is taking in order to defend its lands and the safety of its citizens.”

Cairo said the injured Egyptians are in good health, receiving the necessary medical care, and will be visited by the country’s ambassador to the UAE on Wednesday.


UAE records 2,902 new coronavirus cases, two deaths

UAE records 2,902 new coronavirus cases, two deaths
Updated 19 January 2022

UAE records 2,902 new coronavirus cases, two deaths

UAE records 2,902 new coronavirus cases, two deaths

DUBAI: The UAE health ministry reported 2,902 new coronavirus cases and two virus-related deaths during the past 24 hours.

The ministry’s daily brief on Covid-19 cases said it also recorded 1,285 recoveries from the virus, raising the total number of those who recovered from the virus to 763,664.   

The newly recorded cases increase the total number of people known to have contracted covid-19 in the UAE to 813,931. Th death toll has also risen to 2,200.


Houthi militia target fuel station in Marib, civilian casualties reported 

Houthi militia target fuel station in Marib, civilian casualties reported 
Updated 19 January 2022

Houthi militia target fuel station in Marib, civilian casualties reported 

Houthi militia target fuel station in Marib, civilian casualties reported 
  • The operations were the Houthi militia's attempt to recapture Al-Faliha hill and the Al-Ridha mountain range in Marib

DUBAI: The Houthi militia in Yemen targeted a fuel station in Marib on Wednesday using a ballistic missile. 

TV news channel Al Arabiya said there were civilian casualties reported in the incident, which followed earlier attacks by the Houthis in the southern Marib that was intercepted by Yemen’s army. 

The operations were the Houthi militias attempt to recapture Al-Faliha hill and the Al-Ridha mountain range in Marib. 

According to a military source, Houthis deployed in military vehicles on Wednesday morning to carry out the simultaneous attacks. 

The Yemeni army confirmed that more than 20 Houthis were killed with dozens wounded in operations against the Houthis in Al-Faliha area. Two military vehicles were also destroyed in the mission.

Meanwhile in Al-Riddah mountain range, several militia members were targeted, and a number of military vehicles were destroyed.

This comes just days after Houthi militia carried out attacks in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, which killed three people, and the launch of eight armed drones from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, which the Kingdom’s air defenses intercepted and destroyed.


Taliban arrest fighter who shot dead Hazara woman at checkpoint

Taliban arrest fighter who shot dead Hazara woman at checkpoint
Updated 19 January 2022

Taliban arrest fighter who shot dead Hazara woman at checkpoint

Taliban arrest fighter who shot dead Hazara woman at checkpoint
  • Abdullahi was “killed by mistake,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter, adding the arrested fighter would be punished

KABUL: A Taliban fighter has been arrested for shooting dead a Hazara woman at a checkpoint in the Afghan capital as she returned from a wedding, a spokesman for the group said Wednesday.
The killing of Zainab Abdullahi, 25, has horrified women, who face increasing restrictions since the Taliban returned to power in August.
The shooting took place in a Kabul neighborhood inhabited mostly by members of the minority Shiite Hazara community, who have been persecuted by Sunni hard-liners for centuries, with jihadist groups such as Islamic State regularly targeting them in deadly attacks.
Abdullahi was “killed by mistake,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter, adding the arrested fighter would be punished.
Her family has been offered 600,000 Afghani (around $5,700) for the January 13 shooting in the capital’s Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, the interior ministry said separately.
Some women’s rights activists have staged small protests in Kabul since Abdullahi’s killing, demanding justice.
The Taliban are increasingly imposing their hard-line interpretation of Islamic law on the country, and women are being squeezed out of public life.
Most secondary schools for girls are shut, while women are barred from all but essential government work.
They have also been ordered not to commute long distances unless accompanied by a close male relative.
Earlier this month, the Taliban’s religious police put up posters around the capital ordering women to cover up.
A spokesman for the feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said it was “just encouragement for Muslim women to follow Sharia law.”
On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, urged the Security Council to “hold to account” those guilty of abuses in Afghanistan.
She said denying women and girls their fundamental rights was “massively damaging” a country already facing a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented proportions.
The Taliban have promised a softer version of the rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, but their interim government has no female members.


Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens

Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens
Updated 19 January 2022

Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens

Israel probes alleged Pegasus use to spy on citizens
  • Pegasus is a surveillance product made by the Israeli firm NSO that can turn a mobile phone into a pocket spying device

JERUSALEM: Israel’s justice minister on Wednesday pledged a full investigation into allegations that the controversial Pegasus spyware was used on Israeli citizens, including people who led protests against former premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pegasus, a surveillance product made by the Israeli firm NSO that can turn a mobile phone into a pocket spying device, has remained a source of global controversy following revelations last year it was used to spy on journalists and dissidents worldwide.
The Hebrew-language business daily Calcalist has reported that Pegasus was also used by police on citizens at the forefront of protests against Netanyahu last year, when he was still prime minister, as well as other Israelis.
Israeli police have firmly denied the report.
Public Security Minister Omar Barlev, a Netanyahu critic who took office as part of a new government that ousted Netanyahu in June, offered a more nuanced defense.
There was “no practice of wire-tapping or hacking devices by police without a judge’s approval,” he said.
Israeli security forces have wide leeway to conduct surveillance within Israel with judicial approval.
Following the Calcalist report, the justice ministry and State Comptroller’s office both said they were looking into the reports.
The Privacy Protection Authority, a division of the ministry, said use of Pegasus to monitor Israeli citizens” would constitute a “serious violation of privacy,” announcing its investigation.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said Tuesday he would expand his ongoing investigation into law enforcement’s use of surveillance technology to include the latest Pegasus allegations.
He would in particular probe “the balance” between the “usefulness” of surveillance tools in investigations and “violations of the right to privacy.”
Justice Minister Gideon Saar, another Netanyahu rival, told parliament Wednesday that he fully backed the probes.
“There is a huge difference between the claims in the Calcalist article and the police statements,” Saar told the law committee in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.
“It’s good that the state comptroller, who is an independent body, took upon himself to examine the issue,” Saar said.
“In the (justice) ministry we were not aware of any activity without a court order. It is good that these things will be examined, and the public will receive the conclusions.”
Israel’s defense ministry, which must approve all exports of Israeli-made defense industry products, has also opened an investigation into sales of Pegasus overseas.