Palestinians alarmed as Israeli far-right’s Ben-Gvir to become police minister

Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP)
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Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP)
Palestinians alarmed as Israeli far-right’s Ben-Gvir to become police minister
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Prime minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who was voted out of office in 2021, is working toward cobbling together a governing majority in the 120-seat Knesset. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 25 November 2022

Palestinians alarmed as Israeli far-right’s Ben-Gvir to become police minister

Palestinians alarmed as Israeli far-right’s Ben-Gvir to become police minister
  • The agreement does not account for a full and final new government in Israel

RAMALLAH: Palestinians are deeply concerned that Israeli far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir is to become police minister in a coalition deal with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party that is set to create the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

Given Ben-Gvir’s ultra-extremist views, more violence and instability are expected in the Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem.

He was convicted in 2007 of racist incitement against Arabs and backing a group considered by Israel and the US to be a terrorist organization.

Ben-Gvir will have an expanded security portfolio that will include responsibility for Border Police in the occupied West Bank.

Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the Palestinian government, told Arab News that the Israelis “should worry more than the Palestinians about the appointment of Ben-Gvir,” who espouses an extremist, racist, settler ideology.

He said: “He will not achieve security or stability for them as he promised, and will not defeat the Palestinian people. His appointment means greater sacrifices for the Palestinians and, in return, less security for the Israelis.”

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, told Arab News: “This is a hazardous development, and it means that the entire new Israeli government is moving toward a fascist policy, as Ben-Gvir will be responsible for Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli police, and the Palestinians inside Israel."

He added that the world must see the “result of its silence on Israel’s successive crimes in recent decades. It is required to impose sanctions and a boycott on the Israeli government and declare the Ben-Gvir party a terrorist party.”

Ben-Gvir has long been a fierce opponent of Palestinian statehood, having been a settler in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war.

He was seen brandishing a gun at Palestinian demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem during the election campaign.

Ben-Gvir also supports Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, a flashpoint site holy to both Muslims and Jews. The location has seen repeated clashes between Muslims and Jewish visitors defying rules prohibiting prayer by non-Muslims.

He has also vowed to introduce unprecedented punitive restrictions on Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the deal involving Ben-Gvir would have a “potentially catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and hinder the revival of negotiations between the two sides, which stalled in 2014.

The ministry has again demanded that the international community react to developments and put pressure on the incoming government to ensure that racist policies against Palestinians are not implemented.

Basem Naim, head of the Hamas political department in Gaza, told Arab News: “Appointing Ben-Gvir to this position is like appointing a fugitive criminal as a police governor.

“From our point of view, as Palestinians, the matter will not differ much because the essence of the work of the Zionist security services is racist and is based on oppressing the Palestinians and working to abuse them by all means.”

Retired Col. David Hacham, a former Arab affairs adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, told Arab News that the appointment was an expected step by Netanyahu.

But he added: “We must consider that there may be an expected difference between Ben-Gvir’s prior positions and statements, and his actual behavior after his appointment.”

His arrival in government has prompted the US State Department to say that it expects all officials in the new Israeli administration to share the values of an “open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society.”

Meanwhile, a recent survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute shows that 71 percent of Israelis support the execution of Palestinian prisoners who carried out operations that resulted in deaths and injuries, compared to 63 percent in 2018.

Some 55 percent of Israelis are reported to support the execution of operatives in the field, compared to 37 percent in the previous survey.

The findings also reveal that 45.5 percent support heavy shooting toward the Palestinian population in response to any provocation, compared to 27.5 percent four years ago.

Support for the Israeli army ensuring that it does not violate the international laws of war has decreased.

Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Commission, told Arab News that Palestinian prisoners “are ready to deal with new repressive measures, and if any of their rights are violated, they will have a response.”

Separately, the extremist Israeli group “Price Tag” burned four Palestinian vehicles at dawn on Friday and wrote racist phrases on walls in the towns of Abu Ghosh and Ein Naquba to the west of Jerusalem.

 


Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency

Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency
Updated 49 min 22 sec ago

Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency

Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency
  • Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October

BEIRUT: Lawmakers in crisis-hit Lebanon failed to elect a new president on Thursday for an eighth time, despite the deepening impact of the political deadlock on the country’s economic woes.

Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October with no successor.

Parliament is split between supporters of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its opponents, neither of whom have a clear majority.

Lawmaker Michel Moawad, who is seen as close to the United States, won the support of 37 lawmakers Thursday — well short of the required majority — while 52 spoilt ballots were cast, mainly by pro-Hezbollah lawmakers.

Only 111 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers showed up for the vote.

Some MPs wrote in mock choices on their ballots, with one vote cast for Brazil’s leftist president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Parliament is “not shouldering its responsibilities,” charged lawmaker Antoine Habchi of the Lebanese Forces, a Christian party opposed to Hezbollah.

Electing a president, naming a prime minister and forming a government can take months or even years of political horse-trading.

Lebanon can ill-afford a prolonged power vacuum as it grapples with a financial crisis dubbed by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history, with a currency in free fall, severe electricity shortages and soaring poverty rates.

The country’s caretaker government is unable to enact the sweeping reforms demanded by international lenders as a condition for releasing billions of dollars in bailout loans.

Hezbollah opposes Moawad’s candidacy, and the Iran-backed group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah called last month for a president ready to stand up to the United States.

Moawad has good relations with Washington and has repeatedly called for the disarming of Hezbollah — the only faction to keep its weapons after the end of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Former president Aoun’s own election in 2016 followed a more than two-year vacancy at the presidential palace as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts before reaching a consensus on his candidacy.

By convention, Lebanon’s presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, the premiership is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the post of parliament speaker goes to a Shiite Muslim.

Parliament is expected to convene for a new attempt to elect a president on December 8.


Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry
Updated 01 December 2022

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry
  • Israeli media: The two men killed were commanders in the Islamic Jihad militant group
  • The military has been conducting months of arrest raids in the West Bank

JERUSALEM: Two Palestinians were killed Thursday during an Israeli military raid in a militant stronghold in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Reports by Israeli media said the two men killed were commanders in the Islamic Jihad militant group. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the men as Naeem Jamal Zubaidi, 27, and Mohammad Ayman Saadi, 26, but did not confirm whether they were militants.
According to the reports, the military was conducting an arrest raid in the city of Jenin and was met by gunfire. The military responded, killing the two men.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The military has been conducting months of arrest raids in the West Bank, prompted by a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the spring that killed 19 people. The military says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks, but the Palestinians say they entrench Israel’s open-ended occupation and undermine their own security forces.
The raids have ratcheted up tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, triggering another wave of Palestinian attacks in recent weeks that have killed an additional eight people.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed this year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2006. The Israeli military says many of those killed have been militants but local youths protesting the incursions as well as others not involved in the violence have also been killed.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want those territories for their hoped-for future state. Substantive peace talks were last held more than a decade ago, and with Israel headed toward what’s likely to be its most right-wing government ever, there appears to be no prospect for a negotiated solution in the near future.


UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time
Updated 01 December 2022

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time

UAE’s lunar mission postponed for second time
  • A new launch date will be shared in the coming days

DUBAI: The UAE’s lunar mission has been postponed for the second time on Thursday, SpaceX said.

The Japanese HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander, carrying the UAE’s 10-kilogram Rashid rover aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, was due to take off at 8:37 a.m. (GMT) on Thursday, Dec.1, from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US.

“After further inspections of the launch vehicle and data review, we’re standing down from tomorrow’s launch of ispace inc.’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1,” said SpaceX in a statement.

A new launch date will be shared in the coming days, the company added.

 

 

If Rashid rover successfully lands on the moon, it will be the Arab world’s first lunar mission, placing the UAE as the fourth country to reach the moon.

The mission would also see the first spacecraft funded and built by a private Japanese firm to land on the moon.

Rashid rover is the latest of the UAE’s endeavors in space exploration after successfully launching an unmanned probe to Mars in the first Arab mission to the red planet.


Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria
Updated 01 December 2022

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria

Pentagon chief warns Turkiye against new military operation in Syria

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart of his “strong opposition” to a new Turkish military operation in Syria and voiced concern over the escalating situation in the country, the Pentagon said.

Austin, in the call, expressed condolences over a Nov. 13 attack in Istanbul, the Pentagon said.

“He also expressed concern over escalating action in northern Syria and Turkey, including recent airstrikes, some of which directly threatened the safety of US personnel who are working with local partners in Syria to defeat ISIS,” it said in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

“Secretary Austin called for de-escalation, and shared the Department’s strong opposition to a new Turkish military operation in Syria.” 


Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods
Updated 01 December 2022

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods

Houthi landmines kill more Yemenis, destroy livelihoods
  • Yemenis say militias placed mines as retaliation against those who resisted their ambitions

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Two Yemeni children were killed by a landmine laid by the Houthis in the central province of Marib on Tuesday, increasing the total number of civilians killed or injured by Houthi landmines in one week to nine.

The news comes as a government body confirmed the discovery of wide tracts of ground extensively polluted by Houthi landmines in six provinces.

Yemeni Landmine Monitor reported that two brothers, Abbad and Saleh Abdullah Al-Muradi, were killed and their sister Nemah was severely injured in a landmine explosion in the Rahbah district in Marib, bringing the total number of civilians killed in one week to four and the total number of civilians wounded to five.

The Yemeni group said that two additional individuals were killed and two more were injured in a landmine and ordnance explosion in the western province of Hodeidah, in addition to a child who was injured after touching a landmine in the central province of Al-Bayda.

The Iran-backed Houthis have buried thousands of landmines at previous flashpoints around the country over the last eight years to impede the military advances of their opponents.

The landmines have been planted in farms, schools, health institutions and residential areas and hindered individuals from reaching their places of employment or gaining access to food.

The UN-brokered truce that went into effect on April 2 has restored relative calm to certain hot battlefields, like the city of Marib, enabling some displaced individuals to return home.

Despite the cessation of hostilities, the threat of death and danger posed by Houthi landmines has not abated.

Locals have accused the Houthis of placing landmines in Marib and other Yemeni cities as retaliation against anyone who resisted their military ambitions.

“The Houthi battle in a specific territory does not stop with their loss. Instead, they plant landmines …to make the inhabitants of this area pay dearly for their persistent opposition,” Dhayfullah Al-Dahmashi, a Marib resident, said on Facebook.

Karama Naji, a 7-year-old from the Al-Juthan’an area of Marib, said that while playing outside her home, she tampered with a piece of metal she discovered. The metal was an explosive device left by the Houthis in her village, which detonated, injuring and paralyzing the child’s legs.

“I hope to be able to walk, receive treatment, and find a ride to my distant school,” the child said, according to the Saudi-funded demining program Masam in Yemen.

Yemeni government officials said that this year they uncovered landmine fields planted by the Houthis in the provinces of Abyan, Lahj, Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah and Dhale.

Ameen Saleh Al-Aqeli, director of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center, praised the efforts of Saudi Arabia to help Yemenis clear Houthi mines.

During his speech on Saturday at the 20th meeting of signatory countries to the Ottawa Treaty, which aims to eliminate landmines around the world, he said the Saudi demining program, which operates in 29 Yemeni districts, has retrieved and destroyed roughly 70,000 anti-personnel mines, anti-vehicle mines and explosive devices since early this year.

Al-Aqeli said that this year 487 non-technical survey trips by deminers in Yemen’s mine-contaminated regions in six provinces uncovered 68 potentially hazardous locations with a total area of 16,571,000 square meters and 21 verified problematic areas with a total area of 25,917,000 square meters.