US Congress members denounce Israeli restrictions on academic freedom in Palestine

Jamaal Bowman, a representative from New York, sent a letter, co-signed by 11 of his Democratic colleagues, to the secretaries of state, homeland security, and education calling for an inquiry into the restrictive new rules. (bowman.house.gov)
Jamaal Bowman, a representative from New York, sent a letter, co-signed by 11 of his Democratic colleagues, to the secretaries of state, homeland security, and education calling for an inquiry into the restrictive new rules. (bowman.house.gov)
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Updated 04 June 2022

US Congress members denounce Israeli restrictions on academic freedom in Palestine

US Congress members denounce Israeli restrictions on academic freedom in Palestine
  • 12 Democrats called for an inquiry into new rules limiting numbers of American academics and students at Palestinian universities in the Occupied Territories
  • In a letter sent to the secretaries of state, homeland security and education they pointed out that there are no similar restrictions placed on Israeli universities

WASHINGTON: A dozen members of the US Congress have asked the Biden administration to look into recently introduced Israeli rules that limit the numbers of American academics and students who can teach or study at Palestinian universities in the Occupied Territories.

Jamaal Bowman, a representative from New York, sent a letter, co-signed by 11 of his Democratic colleagues, to the secretaries of state, homeland security, and education calling for an inquiry into the restrictive new rules. They were announced by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, which functions as the de-facto Israeli military government in the Occupied Territories.

The Congress members said in their letter: “According to the recent COGAT announcement, a limit of only 100 foreign academics and 150 foreign students will be allowed to teach or study at Palestinian universities.”

They said the new rules will “severely restrict the ability of American academics and students to teach and study at Palestinian universities” in the Occupied Territories, “while no similar restrictions apply to American academics and students seeking to teach and study at Israeli universities, nor to Israeli academics and students seeking to teach and study in the United States.”

In addition, they noted that the Israeli government “will only grant visas to professors and students for approved fields of teaching and study and limit the amount of time professors and students can spend at Palestinian universities.”

They said: “We find the policies outlined by the COGAT to formalize discriminatory treatment of Palestinian Americans and other citizens.”

These new rules are due to take effect in July, the members of congress noted, and they asked Biden administration officials to reveal how many Americans seeking to study or teach at Palestinian universities have been denied entry to Israel and on what basis?

They also asked the State Department to clarify its position on the new procedures, which “would have the effect of limiting academic freedom of American citizens seeking to study and/or teach at Palestinian universities.” They set a deadline of June 10 for a response.

The other members of Congress who co-signed the letter include Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Ilhan Omar, both from Minnesota, Rep. Marie Newman, a progressive from Illinois who has been a vocal advocate for the rights of Palestinians, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American from Michigan.

Chris Habiby, the legislative and policy coordinator for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the Arab News that the new COGAT rules “simply formalize the practices that Arab Americans, and in particular Palestinian Americans, have been experiencing for decades.”

He added: “The ADC appreciates the courage of shown by Congressman Bowman and 11 other House Democrats in calling out Israeli discrimination against Palestinians.”

Israel has asked the Department of Homeland Security, which polices entry into the US, to include Israeli citizens visiting America in the US Visa Waiver Program. Objections to this center on allegations of Israeli discrimination against American citizens of Palestinian or Arab descent who are subjected to intrusive searches and often denied entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Visa Waiver Program includes statutory requirements that must be met before any country is considered for inclusion. One key requirement is “reciprocity,” which means that American citizens visiting a country that is a member of the program must be treated the same way as a citizen of that country who is visiting the US.

The letter from the members of Congress points out that according to the US State Department: “Some US citizens of Arab or Muslim heritage (including Palestinian Americans) have experienced significant difficulties and unequal and occasionally hostile treatment at Israel’s borders and checkpoints.”

Habiby urged US authorities to put pressure on Israel to prevent the new rules taking effect.

“The Biden administration must take concrete steps to ensure that the Israeli government does not implement this ordinance,” he said.


Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
Updated 10 sec ago

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire on Tuesday on police escorting a team of polio workers in northwestern Pakistan, killing two policemen, authorities said.
None of the polio workers were harmed, said Mohammad Imran, a local police official. The four polio workers and their police escort were all traveling on motorcycles.
The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.
The attack came on the second day of Pakistan’s latest anti-polio campaign in the province. Pakistan has registered 14 new polio cases since April, all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The outbreak has been a blow to the Islamic nation’s efforts to eradicate the disease, which can cause severe paralysis in children.
Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence as Islamic militants often target polio teams and police protecting them, falsely claiming that the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. In 2021, Pakistan reported only one case, raising hopes it was close to eradicating polio.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
Updated 28 min 19 sec ago

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
  • ‘The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict’
  • ‘We see this as a carefully planned provocation’

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.
“The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,” he added.
He said the visit was a “brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations.”
“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Russia in late February launched a military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine.
Pummeled by a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions, Putin has sought to bolster ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially with China.
Moscow was in full solidarity with key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s August visit to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.


Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges
Updated 16 August 2022

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

DUBAI: A Swedish citizen detained in Iran on suspicion of espionage might face other charges, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said on Tuesday in a televised news conference.
The suspect, who remains unnamed, had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of “suspicious behavior,” the official IRNA news agency reported in July.


Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
Updated 16 August 2022

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
  • The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi
  • Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws

MULTAN, Pakistan: A passenger bus rammed into a fuel truck on a highway in eastern Pakistan before dawn on Tuesday, igniting a fire that killed at least 20 people, police and rescue officials said.
According to the officials, the accident happened near the town of Jalalpur Peerwala in Punjab province. The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi.
Tahir Wattoo, a local government official in Multan, the nearest district, said early indications were that the bus driver’s negligence had caused the collision. The driver, who was also killed, slammed into the back of the fuel truck, according to photographs from the scene.
The injured were taken to hospital and at least six passengers were reported in critical condition, he added.
Some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and DNA tests will be conducted to identify the remains before the bodies are handed over to the families, Wattoo also said.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif offered his condolences in a statement and asked health authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the injured.
Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws.


Armenian blast death toll rises to 16

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16
Updated 16 August 2022

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16
  • Sunday’s blast at the Surmalu wholesale market also injured 60 people
  • Local authorities have excluded the possibility that it was a terror attack

YEREVAN: The death toll from an explosion at a bustling market in the Armenian capital Yerevan rose to 16, Armenia’s emergency situations ministry said on Tuesday.
Sunday’s blast at the Surmalu wholesale market also injured 60 people after it caused a fire and the collapse of a building.
“Sixteen bodies were found during search and rescue efforts,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that 18 people were still missing.
Officials said more than 350 rescuers are at work on the ground.
The cause has not yet been established, but local news reports, citing witnesses, said the explosion went off at a place that stored fireworks.
Local authorities have excluded the possibility that it was a terror attack and prosecutors have already launched a probe into violations “on stocking inflammable goods,” breaches in fire safety standards and the death of people “due to negligence.”
The disaster comes as the country of three million people is still recovering from a 2020 war with Azerbaijan, which ended in a heavy defeat and sparked a political crisis.
Shortly after Sunday’s blast, officials evacuated people from Yerevan metro stations after a bomb threat, but authorities found no explosive device.