New Security Council president calls for renewed focus on Israel and Palestine

New Security Council president calls for renewed focus on Israel and Palestine
Juul played an instrumental role in the 1993 Oslo Accords peace initiative involving Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. (AFP/File)
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Updated 05 January 2022

New Security Council president calls for renewed focus on Israel and Palestine

New Security Council president calls for renewed focus on Israel and Palestine
  • Norwegian envoy Mona Juul denounced unilateral actions in the conflict, referencing Israeli settlement activity but adding that ‘it takes two to tango’
  • Norway plans to invite Security Council members to a ‘mini-Oslo’ forum where they will discuss how best to address world peace and security

NEW YORK: Norway will elevate UN Security Council discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a ministerial level on Jan. 19, in an effort to highlight the need for the council to restore its focus on this decades-long conflict.

That was the pledge by Mona Juul, Oslo’s permanent representative to the UN, who lamented the reduced international attention to the issue, which has been sidelined as a result of multiple other conflicts raging across the Middle East.

“The people of Israel and Palestine do not deserve that,” she said on Tuesday during a press conference to discuss her country’s priorities as it assumes the presidency of the Security Council for January. “Thirty years after the Madrid conference, the Israeli-Palestinian issue deserves more attention.

“It’s critical to enhance the council’s focus and the need to find a political solution to this protracted conflict and make sure we avoid further actions that undermine the prospect of the two-state solution.”

Juul reiterated her country’s opposition to any unilateral action in the conflict, specifically referencing Israel’s settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories but adding that “it takes two to tango.”

She said: “We need to make sure that there is a Palestinian Authority that can speak with one voice and come to the table with a mandate to make peace as well.”

Juul played an instrumental role in the 1993 Oslo Accords peace initiative involving Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. While working as an official in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she came up with the idea that a mediated meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders could lead to a mutual understanding.

The Norwegian envoy was portrayed by actress Ruth Wilson in “Oslo,” an HBO film about the accords that was released in May last year.

“The main thing that made (the Oslo Accords) work was that you had two courageous leaders on both sides that decided — (in view of) the status quo and the situation of the PLO sitting in Tunis, and the government that was fighting against stone-throwing Palestinians in the first intifada — that it is better to meet at the table and at least start an incremental process toward a full-fledged peace agreement,” said Juul.

Although these incremental steps were not implemented, “a lot of things took place, not least of which is the fact that Israel recognized the PLO, and the Palestinian Authority was established in parts of Palestine and it is actually still working,” she added.

“Of course, it depends on leaders. You need a political will in order to make a compromise and a strength to do it, and also the two-state solution is a compromise solution and you have to have leaders that carry that compromise on both sides. That is not the case right now but that doesn’t mean we should give up. Time is running out but it is not too late.”

The Security Council this month welcomes five new members who began their rotating, two-year terms: the UAE, Gabon, Ghana, Albania and Brazil.

Norway intends to organize a so-called “mini-Oslo” forum for members of Security Council. who will be invited to meet in Oslo, in a closed setting, and discuss “how to do better when it comes to preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution,” Juul said.

As the this month’s president of the UN body tasked with maintaining international peace and security, she admitted that the picture currently looks bleak but added: “We have to be optimistic and still believe that both as a Security Council member but also as a country … we will never give up on working in order to try to help solve conflict through dialogue rather than violent and military means.

“There are examples that (show) it is still possible to forge dialogue and to bring people to the table but we know it costs a lot, requires a lot of resources and, not least, it requires unity at the (Security Council).

“On many issues we have that unity, on some, we don’t — but we will do our utmost to forge that unity.”


US calls on Israel to investigate death of Palestinian boy

US calls on Israel to investigate death of Palestinian boy
Updated 7 sec ago

US calls on Israel to investigate death of Palestinian boy

US calls on Israel to investigate death of Palestinian boy
  • Relatives said Rayan Suleiman had no previous health problems and accused the army of scaring the child to death
  • The incident added to the rising tensions in the West Bank, where Israeli troops have been conducting daily arrest raids
JERUSALEM: The US State Department is calling on Israel to open a “thorough” investigation into the mysterious death of a 7-year-old Palestinian boy who collapsed and died on Thursday, shortly after Israeli soldiers came to his home in the occupied West Bank.
Relatives said Rayan Suleiman had no previous health problems and accused the army of scaring the child to death. The army called the death a tragedy and said its soldiers were not to blame.
The incident added to the rising tensions in the West Bank, where Israeli troops have been conducting daily arrest raids that have frequently escalated into deadly violence in recent months.
Earlier in the day, young Palestinian village boys were seen throwing stones at cars driving on a highway near the Israeli settlement of Tekoa, which lies close to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Later, relatives said that soldiers banged on the door and wanted to arrest Rian’s older brothers for alleged stone throwing.
Mohammed Suleiman, a 22-year-old cousin, said Rayan was shrieking in fear at sight of the soldiers and his parents shouted, “come here,” to calm him down. He said after the soldiers left, the boy collapsed. He said Rayan had been healthy.
The boy’s father, Yasser Suleiman, said Rayan tried to run away when the soldiers said they wanted to arrest his brothers and was briefly chased by the soldiers. He said Rayan was vomiting blood in the car after collapsing and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“He was martyred from the fear of them,” the father told Palestine TV.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman, said a senior officer on the scene went to the house after spotting one of the stone throwers on a balcony and told the father to make the children stop throwing stones at motorists. He said the officer spoke in a “very calm manner” and left.
“There was no violence, no entry into the house,” Hecht said.
In Washington, the State Department’s deputy spokesman, Vedant Patel, said the United States was “heartbroken to learn of the death of an innocent Palestinian child.”
“We support a thorough and immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the child’s death,” Patel said.
Hecht said the investigation was continuing.
Palestinians and human rights groups say the army is incapable of investigating wrongdoing by its forces and that soldiers are rarely held accountable.
Palestinian social media were awash with photos of Rayan superimposed over the golden Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, with Palestinians declaring him a “martyr” and condemning Israel for his death. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa headlined its report “the death of a child while being chased,” in effect blaming Israel for the death.
The boy was scheduled to be buried on Friday, when Palestinian demonstrators often clash with Israeli soldiers.
The funeral comes at a time of rising violence in the West Bank.
On Wednesday, four Palestinians were killed and 44 wounded during an Israeli military raid in the northern West Bank town of Jenin. It was the deadliest episode since Israel launched its crackdown earlier this year.
Israel has been conducting nightly arrest raids, primarily in the northern West Bank, since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israel last spring. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed, making this the deadliest year in the occupied territory since 2015.
Most of the dead have been wanted militants who opened fire, or youths who threw firebombs or stones at soldiers entering their neighborhoods. But several civilians who were not involved in any violence have also died.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians seek the territory, now home to about 500,000 Israeli settlers, as the heartland of a future independent state.

Kuwaitis go to the polls to elect new National Assembly

Kuwaitis go to the polls to elect new National Assembly
Updated 18 min 15 sec ago

Kuwaitis go to the polls to elect new National Assembly

Kuwaitis go to the polls to elect new National Assembly
  • Almost 796,000 people were eligible to vote for the 50 members of the country’s parliament

KUWAIT: The people of Kuwait went to the polls on Thursday for the second time in two years. They were choosing the 50 members of the National Assembly, the country’s parliament, from a field of 305 candidates, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

Voting began at 8:00 a.m. and continued for 12 hours in all five of Kuwait’s parliamentary constituencies. A total of 795,911 Kuwaitis were eligible to vote and the results were expected to be announced on Friday.

The winners are elected to serve a four-year term. However the previous government was dissolved in June last year, just six months into its term.


Iraq summons Iranian ambassador after drone bombing campaign

Iraq summons Iranian ambassador after drone bombing campaign
Updated 29 September 2022

Iraq summons Iranian ambassador after drone bombing campaign

Iraq summons Iranian ambassador after drone bombing campaign
  • The Iraqi government condemned "this crime, which represented the continuation of Iranian forces’ encroachment on Iraq’s sovereignty”
  • The ministry also warned of repercussions on "the societal peace of both countries and on regional security and stability”

BAGHDAD: Iraq summoned the Iranian ambassador on Thursday to deliver a diplomatic complaint following a deadly drone bombing campaign, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Iranian drones targeted an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least nine people and wounding 32 others. The strikes took place as demonstrations continued to engulf the Islamic Republic after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who died while in the custody of the Iranian morality police.
Iran’s attacks targeted positions of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan in the town of Koya, some 65 kilometers (35 miles) east of Irbil, the main city and capital of Iraq’s northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The group, known by the acronym KDPI, is a leftist armed opposition force banned in Iran.
The Foreign Ministry said in its statement that civilians were among those killed. It added that the Iraqi government condemned “this crime, which represented the continuation of Iranian forces’ encroachment on Iraq’s sovereignty.”
The ministry also warned of repercussions on “the societal peace of both countries and on regional security and stability.”
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency and broadcaster on Wednesday said the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard targeted bases of a separatist group in the north of Iraq with “precision missiles” and “suicide drones.”
Gen. Hasan Hasanzadeh of the Revolutionary Guard said 185 members of the Basij, a volunteer force, were injured by “machete and knife” in the unrest in Iran. Hasanzadeh also said rioters broke the skull of one Basij member. He added that five Basij members were hospitalized in intensive care.
United Nations’ agencies, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom all condemned the attacks on northern Iraq.
The UN mission in Iraq said in a tweet that the Mideast country cannot be treated as “the region’s ‘backyard,’ where neighbors routinely, and with impunity, violate its sovereignty.”
“Rocket diplomacy is a reckless act with devastating consequences,” the UN mission said.
In Washington, US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel confirmed to reporters that an American citizen was killed in the rocket attacks in the Iraqi Kurdish region. He offered no additional information, citing privacy concerns, and also reiterated the US condemnation of Iran for the attacks.
Protests in Iran have raged following Amini’s death in custody in Tehran, and spread across at least 46 cities, towns and villages across Iran. State TV reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17. An Associated Press count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s defense minister said Turkish military jets carried out a new aerial offensive against suspected hideouts of Kurdish separatists from Turkey in northern Iraq, striking as deep as 149 kilometers (87 miles) deep into Iraqi territory.
The jets targeted 16 caves, shelters and command centers allegedly used by Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq’s Asos region on Sept. 27, Hulusi Akar told journalists. He did not provide further details.
The PKK maintains bases across the border in Iraq and has led an armed insurgency inside Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.
Turkey’s military has over the years launched numerous cross-border offensives in Iraq in pursuit of PKK militants.


Palestinians protest against violent crackdown by Israeli forces in West Bank

Palestinians protest against violent crackdown by Israeli forces in West Bank
Updated 29 September 2022

Palestinians protest against violent crackdown by Israeli forces in West Bank

Palestinians protest against violent crackdown by Israeli forces in West Bank
  • The demonstrations took place the day after army incursions into Jenin that left four Palestinians, including a 7-year-old boy, dead and more than 50 injured
  • Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesperson for the Palestinian government, said Palestinians from all sections of society are paying the price for the unjustified Israeli violence

RAMALLAH: Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated in the center of Ramallah on Thursday in response to a violent crackdown by Israeli authorities in the West Bank this week.
A strike was organized in protest against the Israeli army’s incursion into Jenin on Wednesday that left four Palestinians dead and more than 50 injured.
Palestinian medical sources at the Beit Jala Hospital said on Thursday that a 7-year-old boy was among the dead. Witnesses said Rayan Suleiman was with a group of Palestinian youths who were chased by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday during a confrontation in Taqua village in southeastern Bethlehem. He reportedly collapsed after his heart stopped. He was taken to the hospital but declared dead.
Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesperson for the Palestinian government, described the situation in the West Bank as intimidating and said Palestinians from all sections of society are paying the price for the unjustified Israeli violence.
He criticized Israeli soldiers for terrorizing students by carrying out raids on schools, resulting in incidents such as the one that caused the death of Rayan.
“The mere presence of soldiers in schools is a terrifying sight, so what about when they arrest students?” Melhem said.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry described Rayan’s death as a “heinous crime committed by the occupation forces.”
It said it holds the Israeli government directly responsible for the escalation in violence and condemned the aggression of the occupation forces in their violent incursions into Palestinian areas, measures that restrict the movement of Palestinians in their own land, the demolitions of Palestinian homes carried out by Israeli forces, and attacks by settler militias that take place under the supervision, protection and support of the Israeli government and its various military and security arms.
Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told Arab News that Israel is waging an open and comprehensive war against Palestinian citizens, targeting their land and holy sites in an attempt to break the will of the people and using Palestinian blood to secure votes from the extremist right in elections scheduled for Nov. 1.
A Palestinian citizen from Jenin told Arab news: “We struggled for 54 years to have an independent Palestinian state, not to get a work permit in construction or agriculture in Israel.”
Suhair Freitech, a Palestinian political activist from Nablus, told Arab News that the Israeli actions are designed to give the impression that there is no Palestinian political partner, in the leadership or among communities, that wants peace. In this way, he added, Israeli authorities can justify their violence against Palestinians.
The Israeli soldiers who protect settlers who storm Al-Aqsa Mosque portray the Palestinians who resist such incursions as terrorists, Freitech said, adding: “The real terrorists are the settlers who steal Palestinian land.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has ordered the deportation of several relatives of a Palestinian man who carried out a deadly attack five years ago in East Jerusalem.
In a message posted on Twitter, Shaked said she sent a notice to seven people related to Fadi Al-Qanbar, who killed four Israeli soldiers in a truck-ramming attack in Abu Tor neighborhood in 2017, telling them to “leave the country within a week or be forcefully deported.”
Jessica Montel, director of the Israel-based human rights organization HaMoked, told Arab News: “This is a political stunt, trying to win votes from the ultranationalists at the expense of East Jerusalem Palestinians.
“HaMoked is preparing an appeal to the Jerusalem District Court, challenging it. This is collective punishment and we hope the court will agree that this is unacceptable and prevent these deportations.”


Qatar joins IAEA board of governors

Qatar joins IAEA board of governors
Updated 29 September 2022

Qatar joins IAEA board of governors

Qatar joins IAEA board of governors
  • Country previously served on the board twice, from 2013 to 2015 and from 2016 to 2018

VIENNA: Qatar has been elected for membership of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency for 2022-2024, the Qatar News Agency reported. 

The election took place during the 66th IAEA general conference, which started on Monday and will run until Friday in Vienna.

Qatar has previously served on the board of governors twice, from 2013 to 2015 and from 2016 to 2018. 

The 35-member board, which is in charge of the IAEA’s main policy-making bodies, reviews and approves budgeting, operational programs, safeguards agreements and safety standards.

It also has the authority, with the approval of the general conference, to appoint the agency’s director general. 

Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Dr. Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Hammadi said Qatar’s election affirms the global appreciation for its responsible approach to the development of a peaceful nuclear energy program. 

He emphasized Qatar’s commitment to continuing to support the IAEA’s activities promoting the peaceful use of nuclear power, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, and facilitating member states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology. 

Qatar is a signatory to the majority of nuclear safety, security and safeguards conventions. Since its accession in 1976, it has been an active member of the IAEA.