Lebanese president meets Lebanon’s envoy to Saudi Arabia before return

Lebanese president meets Lebanon’s envoy to Saudi Arabia before return
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry has also announced earlier that the kingdom’s ambassador to Beirut returned to Lebanon on April 7. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 April 2022

Lebanese president meets Lebanon’s envoy to Saudi Arabia before return

Lebanese president meets Lebanon’s envoy to Saudi Arabia before return
  • The meeting took place before Fawzi Kabbara returns to Riyadh

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun has met Lebanon’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Fawzi Kabbara, before he returns to Riyadh, Aoun said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced that the kingdom’s ambassador to Beirut had returned to Lebanon on April 7, in a sign of easing tensions following a rift that saw the kingdom and other Gulf states withdraw their envoys last year.


Kuwait ‘absolute believer in peace,’ says diplomat

Kuwait ‘absolute believer in peace,’ says diplomat
Updated 32 sec ago

Kuwait ‘absolute believer in peace,’ says diplomat

Kuwait ‘absolute believer in peace,’ says diplomat
  • Country delivers statement before UN Security Council

NEW YORK: A Kuwaiti diplomat has pledged his country’s support for all regional and international efforts aimed at settling disputes peacefully.
Addressing a Security Council session, Kuwait’s First Secretary Fahad Mohammad Hajji was partaking in an open debate called “Investing in People to Enhance Resilience in the Face of Complex Challenges.”
The Kuwait News Agency reported on Saturday that Hajji told the agenda item “Peacebuilding and Peacekeeping” that “Kuwait is an absolute believer in peace constitutionally, as one of the articles of its constitution stipulates that peace is the state’s goal and approach, as preventive diplomacy and mediation, preventing conflicts from arising and settling them by peaceful means are basic pillars of Kuwaiti foreign policy.”
The senior diplomat said that the UN Charter encourages resolving discord through peaceful means, specifically chapter six which sets out steps to end any dispute between conflicting parties.
Hajji added that this would come through negotiations, investigation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and judicial settlement, or by resorting to regional agencies and organizations, or other means of their choice.
He called for consideration of methods for effective action to prevent the outbreak of conflicts.
He also stressed the importance of giving regional and sub-regional organizations a greater role in the field of conflict prevention and mediation, in line with the charter, by deepening their strategic partnerships with the UN.


Sweden tells citizens to avoid crowds in Turkiye after Qur'an burning

Sweden tells citizens to avoid crowds in Turkiye after Qur'an burning
Updated 39 min 29 sec ago

Sweden tells citizens to avoid crowds in Turkiye after Qur'an burning

Sweden tells citizens to avoid crowds in Turkiye after Qur'an burning
  • Last week Turkiye suspended talks with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO
  • "Swedes in Turkiye are asked to stay updated on the development of events and to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations," the foreign ministry said

STOCKHOLM: Sweden’s foreign ministry on Saturday warned Swedes in Turkiye to avoid crowds and demonstrations following protests there over the burning of the Qur’an by a far-right politician in Stockholm last week.
Last week Turkiye suspended talks with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO after the protest at which Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Qur’an outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Paludan’s actions have led to demonstrations in a number of Muslim countries as well as in Turkiye.
“Swedes in Turkiye are asked to stay updated on the development of events and to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations,” the foreign ministry said on its advice page for Swedes abroad.
“Continued demonstrations can be expected outside the embassy in Ankara and the consulate general in Istanbul in the coming days.”
After Paludan’s protest, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he supported freedom of speech.
“But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act,” Kristersson said on Twitter.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
They need support from all 30 members of the Alliance. Turkiye has said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt, in order for it to back NATO membership for the two Nordic countries.


Saudi Arabia warns of further escalation between Palestinians and Israelis

Saudi Arabia warns of further escalation between Palestinians and Israelis
Updated 28 January 2023

Saudi Arabia warns of further escalation between Palestinians and Israelis

Saudi Arabia warns of further escalation between Palestinians and Israelis

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia warned on Saturday of the situation between Palestinians and Israelis slipping into a further dangerous escalation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Kingdom condemns the targeting of civilians, stressing the need to stop the escalation, and work on reviving the peace process and putting an end to the occupation, the statement said.  

Seven people died on Friday in a gun attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem and two others were wounded in an attack in the city on Saturday morning.

The shootings came after nine Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army operation in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

Also on Saturday, Russia's foreign ministry called for “maximum restraint” following violence in Israel and the West Bank that marked another escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We perceive this development of events with deep concern. We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further escalation of tension,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Recent events clearly confirm the need to urgently relaunch a constructive Palestinian-Israeli dialogue and to renounce unilateral actions,” it added.

The European Union denounced this week's attacks in Jerusalem and urged Israel to only use lethal force as a last resort.

“The European Union fully recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by the latest terrorist attacks, but it has to be stressed that lethal force must only be used as a last resort when it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said the bloc's chief diplomat, Josep Borrell.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday he was “deeply shocked” by the “terrible” attacks in Jerusalem.

“There have been deaths and people wounded in the heart of Israel,” he said. 

(with AFP)

 


New gun attack in east Jerusalem after synagogue mass shooting

New gun attack in east Jerusalem after synagogue mass shooting
Updated 28 January 2023

New gun attack in east Jerusalem after synagogue mass shooting

New gun attack in east Jerusalem after synagogue mass shooting
  • Police said the suspect was “neutralized” following the latest gun attack in the Silwan neighborhood
  • Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency response service identified the victims as two men, aged 47 and 23

JERUSALEM: An assailant shot and wounded two people in east Jerusalem on Saturday, Israeli medics said, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed seven outside a synagogue in one of the deadliest such attacks in years.
Police said the suspect was “neutralized” following the latest gun attack in the Silwan neighborhood, just outside Jerusalem’s old, walled city.
Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency response service identified the victims as two men, aged 47 and 23, both with “gunshot wounds to their upper body.” It did not identify those involved.
Police had earlier announced 42 arrests in connection with Friday’s synagogue attack.
The mass shooting unfolded as a 21-year-old resident of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem drove up to the synagogue in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood and opened fire during the Jewish Sabbath.
The bloodshed, which unfolded on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked another dramatic escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It came a day after one of the deadliest army raids in the occupied West Bank in roughly two decades, as well as rocket fire from militants in the Gaza Strip and Israeli retaliatory air strikes.
There have widespread calls to de-escalate the spiralling violence, but tensions are rising.
Crowds shouted “Death to Arabs” as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the scene of the synagogue attack late Friday.
Palestinians also held spontaneous rallies to celebrate the killings, in Gaza and across the West Bank, including in Ramallah where large crowds swarmed the streets chanting and waving Palestinian flags.
Several Arab nations that have ties with Israel-- including Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates — condemned the synagogue shooting.
The Lebanese group Hezbollah, one of Israel’s most prominent foes, praised the attack as “heroic,” voicing “absolute support for all the steps taken by the Palestinian resistance factions.”

The gunman at the synagogue was shot dead by police during a shootout that followed a brief car chase after the attack.
There has been no indication that he had prior involvement in militant activity or was a member of an established Palestinian armed group.
“The Jerusalem District Police and border police fighters arrested 42 suspects — some of them from the terrorist’s (immediate) family, relatives and (neighbors),” a police statement said.
“The police will thoroughly examine the connection between each of the arrested suspects and the terrorist who carried out the attack, as well as the extent of their knowledge and/or involvement,” it added.
In a separate statement, police said the force had been placed on the “highest level” of alert following the attack.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians claim the area as the capital of their future state.
Israel’s police chief Kobi Shabtai called the shooting “one of the worst attacks (Israel) has encountered in recent years.”

Nine people had been killed Thursday in what Israel described as a “counter-terrorism” operation in the Jenin refugee camp.
It was one of the deadliest Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000 to 2005.
Israel said Islamic Jihad operatives were the target.
Islamic Jihad and Hamas both vowed to retaliate, later firing several rockets at Israeli territory.
Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defenses. The military responded with strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza.
There were no injuries reported on either side, but Gaza’s armed groups vowed further action.
After the synagogue shooting, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack proved “the resistance knows how to find the appropriate response” to Israeli “crimes.”
Washington had announced Thursday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would travel next week to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he would push for an “end to the cycle of violence.”
A US State Department spokesman confirmed on Friday that the visit would go ahead and said Blinken would discuss “steps to be taken to de-escalate tensions.”
At least 26 Israelis and 200 Palestinians were killed across Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2022, the majority in the West Bank, according to an AFP tally from official sources.


Arab-American leaders urge Blinken to hold Israel accountable

Arab-American leaders urge Blinken to hold Israel accountable
Updated 28 January 2023

Arab-American leaders urge Blinken to hold Israel accountable

Arab-American leaders urge Blinken to hold Israel accountable

CHICAGO: Leaders of several Arab-American organizations met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday to express concerns over the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians and demand that Israel’s government be held accountable for it.

More than 29 Palestinians have been killed in the past four weeks and scores have been seriously injured. Several Israeli Jews were killed on Friday, allegedly by a suspected Palestinian gunman.

Blinken is planning to travel to the Middle East on Sunday, Jan. 29, and then scheduled to meet Israeli leaders on Monday and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday. He is the second member of the Biden administration to visit the region in the past two weeks. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was there two weeks ago.

Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute — the AAI — one of the leaders attending the briefing with Blinken in Washington D.C., said that the group pressed the secretary to impose “consequences” on Israel’s government for the violent actions targeting Palestinian civilians.

“We were pleased for the opportunity to make our views known to the secretary but the emphasis was on the need for consequences,” Zogby told Arab News.

“Absence consequences for bad behavior, Israel operates with impunity and Palestinians lose hope. We offered specific suggestions on things they might do. Consequences are important. Israel should be made to pay for bad behavior.”

Zogby said that the group also pressed Blinken on the issue of the construction in Jerusalem of the US Embassy, noting that the land where the embassy is being built is owned by Palestinians, including Palestinian Americans.

In a statement the group said that Blinken’s planned trip was being “upstaged by the recent Israeli undercover military raid in Jenin that resulted in the killing of 10 Palestinians, including civilians.”

Members of the delegation expressed concern about US policy objectives and the situation in Palestine, not just in Jenin but also the mass displacement of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta in the West Bank.

“The group made it clear to the secretary that the US has a responsibility to act to restrain Israel’s aggressive behaviors toward the captive Palestinian people. Decades of US acquiescence to Israel’s policies of settlement expansion, land confiscation, home demolitions, and a range of other human rights violations have led to an Israeli sense of impunity and Palestinian despair,” the statement said.

“If the administration is to fulfill its commitment to the equal worth of Israelis and Palestinians and their rights to security, prosperity, and dignity, the group insisted that the secretary demonstrate firmness and resolve to rein in Israeli behavior.”

Other issues brought up during the meeting included Israel’s application for the US Visa Waiver Program. The program allows easy access for Israeli citizens to travel to the US but Arab leaders argued that Israel has made it extremely difficult for Arab-Americans to travel to Israel.

“Last year, Israel published military rules regarding its restrictions on visitors to the West Bank, which make clear that American citizens are discriminated against in entry to the West Bank if they indicate an intention to visit Palestinians. Those visiting Israelis face no similar restrictions,” the group said.

State Department Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf provided details of Blinken’s planned trip during a briefing late on Thursday.

“On January 29th to 30th, the secretary will go to Cairo, where he will meet with President El-Sisi, Foreign Minister Shoukry, as well as senior Egyptian officials. In those meetings, we expect that he will underscore our commitment to continuing to advance the strategic partnership we have with Egypt and to working with Egypt to promote peace and security in the region, whether it’s in support of elections in Libya or the ongoing Sudanese-led political process, or in working to ensure a calm in the Gaza Strip,” Leaf said.

“In Cairo, the secretary will also meet with Egyptian youth leaders and with Egyptian human rights defenders to underscore our commitment to human rights and our continued support for civil society and, of course, the enduring importance of people-to-people ties between our countries.”

Leaf said that Blinken will travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah from Jan. 30-31.

“In Jerusalem, he’s going to have an opportunity to meet up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, of course, the prime minister is just a month into his tenure as prime minister. He’ll also meet with the foreign minister and other senior Israeli leaders,” Leaf said.

“In those meetings, the secretary will highlight the special nature of the 75-year bilateral relationship with Israel and our unstinting commitment to Israel’s security and democracy. He will also underscore the United States commitment to countering the continued spectrum of threats posed by Iran to Israel, the US, and the wider region, and ensuring Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Other groups represented during the meeting along with the AAI were AMIDEAST, the Palestinian American Congress, the Arab Center of Washington D.C., and the Al-Bireh Society.