Palestinians unimpressed with Azerbaijan decision to open embassy in Tel Aviv

Palestinians unimpressed with Azerbaijan decision to open embassy in Tel Aviv
Azerbaijan’s decision on Friday to open an embassy in Tel Aviv sparked astonishment and condemnation among Palestinians. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 18 November 2022

Palestinians unimpressed with Azerbaijan decision to open embassy in Tel Aviv

Palestinians unimpressed with Azerbaijan decision to open embassy in Tel Aviv
  • PA minister expresses astonishment at ‘uncalculated political step’
  • Azerbaijan set to become first Shiite majority nation to have mission in Israel

RAMALLAH: Azerbaijan’s decision on Friday to open an embassy in Tel Aviv sparked astonishment and condemnation among Palestinians.
Azerbaijan shares a long border with Iran and is a major buyer of Israeli weapons systems. It is now set to become the first country with a Shiite majority and government to have a mission in Israel.
While some former Palestinian diplomats and political analysts sought to play down the move at a time of intense diplomatic struggles between Palestinians and Israel, others saw it as a victory for Israeli diplomacy.
Senior Arab intelligence officers told Arab News that increased cooperation between the security services of Azerbaijan and Israel in recent years meant that Israeli personnel now had free operability in areas close to the Azerbaijan-Iran border.
The Palestinian Authority’s Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani told Arab News that Azerbaijan would not have taken the decision to open the embassy without consulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, considering “Azerbaijan is a Turkish protectorate.”
He said he was surprised by the decision as Azerbaijan is the current chair of the Islamic summit, which has in the past been against such a move.
“Unfortunately, Azerbaijan’s decision comes at a time when the Israeli right wing is taking power in Israel, which is considered a reward for the Israeli extreme right for its attacks against the Palestinians and Islamic sanctities,” he said.
“We express our astonishment and condemnation of this uncalculated political step that harms the Palestinians.”
Israel’s outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he welcomed Azerbaijan’s decision, adding that the country was an essential partner of Israel and home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Muslim world.
Lapid said the move reflected the depth of Israeli-Azerbaijani relations and was a result of the Israeli government’s efforts to build solid diplomatic bridges with the Muslim world.
“I want to thank President Ilham Aliyev and congratulate the Azeri people who will now be represented for the first time in the state of Israel,” he said.
Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa told Arab News that he saw the opening of the embassy as an act of gratitude to Israel for providing drones, reconnaissance equipment and other military technology that helped it turn the tide in its conflict with Armenia.
But he also played down the move, and said: “I do not think that such a step will have an impact on Palestinian diplomacy, especially since countries such as the UAE and Bahrain — more important than Azerbaijan — have opened embassies in Israel before.”
Israeli political analyst Yoni Ben Menachem told Arab News that Azerbaijan played a vital role in Israel’s conflict with Iran, pointing to the use of Azerbaijani bases for launching Israeli drone strikes inside Iran and for hosting Mossad personnel.
Its security cooperation with Azerbaijan could even provide Israel with a springboard to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, he said.
Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib agreed that Azerbaijan’s decision to open an embassy in Tel Aviv was linked to the security cooperation between the two countries, but said it came “at the expense of international principles, obligations and laws.”
“Opening an embassy … will not change the political reality. Israel is still an occupying state and Jerusalem is still an occupied city,” he said.


Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
Updated 07 December 2022

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests

Iranian ex-president lauds anti-regime protests
  • ‘Freedom trampled under pretext of protecting security,’ says Mohammad Khatami
  • Former leader calls on regime to meet protesters’ demands ‘before it is too late’

LONDON: Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami has praised anti-regime protests and urged authorities to meet protesters’ demands “before it is too late,” the BBC reported.

The two-term reformist president, who served between 1997 and 2005, described “woman, life, freedom” as a “beautiful slogan,” and said that it showed Iranian society was moving toward a better future.

Khatami also criticized the security forces’ crackdown and arrest of students.

“It should not be allowed that freedom and security are placed in opposition to one another, and that as a result freedom is trampled under the pretext of maintaining security, or that security is ignored in the name of freedom,” he said.

“I advise officials to appreciate this presence and instead of dealing with it unjustly, extend a helping hand to them and, with their help, recognize the wrong aspects of governance and move toward good governance before it is too late.”

Khatami’s comments came in a statement to mark Student Day on Wednesday, with students having been at the forefront of the wave of protests that are now into their fourth month.

Protests were sparked by the September murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police.

Her death ignited pent-up frustrations over falling living standards, and discrimination against women and minorities.

Protests have spread to more than 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 of Iran’s provinces, and are now considered the most serious challenge to the regime since it took power in the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s leadership has sought to portray the protests as “riots” instigated by “foreign enemies.”

Despite the brutal crackdown by security forces, which have led to the deaths of 473 protesters and the detention of more than 18,000 people, demonstrations show little sign of abating, with Khatami describing student involvement as “perhaps unprecedented.”

Iran’s judiciary also sentenced five protesters to death on charges of “corruption of the Earth” on Tuesday, with 11 others, including three children” handed long prison sentences.

Director of Iran Human Rights Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told AFP News: “These people are sentenced after unfair processes and without due process. The aim is to spread fear and make people stop protesting.”

A total of 11 protesters have now been sentenced to death, with the country’s judiciary chief saying on Monday that executions will be carried out “soon.”


Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
Updated 07 December 2022

Iran executions up more than 50% this year

Iran executions up more than 50% this year
  • Over 500 people killed, says rights body
  • ‘Crackdown led by President Ebrahim Raisa’

LONDON: Iranian authorities have executed more than 500 people this year, according to data released by Iran Human Rights.

Up more than 50 percent on 2021’s figure of 333, the spike in executions marks a dramatic shift following years of decline, with numbers only likely to climb amidst the government’s brutal response to protests in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

Five further death sentences were handed out to protesters yesterday, for killing a member of the security forces, bringing to 11 the total number arising from the protests.

Meanwhile nine people have been charged over the killing of Iran’s nuclear weapons chief, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November 2020. Israel’s security agency, Mossad, has been blamed for Fakhrizadeh’s death.

Newly elected president and former prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, played a central role in the 1980s killing spree that resulted in the execution of thousands of opposition supporters.

His election last year, combined with the surging number of death sentences, are considered reflective of the increasing dominance of hardliners over Iranian politics.


New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission
Updated 07 December 2022

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission

New launch date floated for UAE’s moon mission
  • Initial launch date was delayed several times to allow for additional pre-flight checks

DUBAI: The UAE’s moon rover is set to blast off “no earlier than Dec. 11” after a series of tests were conducted on the SpaceX rocket.

In a statement, ispace inc., the Japanese firm that built HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander carrying the UAE’s Rashid rover, said the initial launch date was delayed several times to allow for additional pre-flight checks on the rocket.

The Emirati-made Rashid rover will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, at 7:38 a.m. GMT on Dec. 11, embarking on a five-month journey to the moon in the Arab world’s first lunar mission.

 

 

“ispace’s Mission 1 lunar lander was integrated into the SpaceX Falcon 9 fairing and battery charging operations for the lander will continue,” said the firm.

“No issues with the lander itself have been identified. As of today, no major operational changes are planned, with lunar landing scheduled for the end of April 2023.”

If the rover lands successfully, the UAE will be the fourth country to reach the moon.


Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country

Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country
Updated 07 December 2022

Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country

Somalia praises UAE for its relief efforts in the country
  • Abdul Shakour’s comments were made on the sidelines of a conference held on Wednesday at the Arab League headquarters

DUBAI: Abdul Rahman Abdul Shakour, Somalia’s special envoy for the President for Humanitarian Affairs and Drought, praised the UAE on Wednesday for its relief efforts in the drought-stricken country. 
“The UAE is a pioneer in providing the necessary support to Somalia in this crisis, as it was the first country to respond to the appeal launched by the Somali government to provide urgent relief to those affected by drought,” said Abdul Shakour.
He noted that the UAE fulfilled the needs of approximately 2.5 million people after it airlifted supplies and sent a ship carrying more than 1,000 tons of food and relief items to Somalia. 
Abdul Shakour’s comments were made on the sidelines of a conference held on Wednesday at the Arab League headquarters, which was jointly sponsored by the Arab League and United Nations.
The conference included several of senior officials from Arab philanthropic organizations and UN humanitarian bodies that aim to coordinate actions plans that will help address the worsening food situation in the African nation.


UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense

UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense
Updated 07 December 2022

UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense

UAE leaders meet Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum met with Afghanistan’s acting minister of defense during his official visit to the country.

The leaders discussed bilateral ties and areas of potential cooperation with Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob in two separate meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, reported state news agency (WAM).

They also reviewed issues of mutual interest.