ROME: Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pledged their country’s “full cooperation” with Jordan “in every field,” during a meeting with King Abdullah II.
The monarch and Queen Rania were received by Mattarella at Quirinale Palace during their visit to Rome.
A source in the Italian presidency told Arab News that Mattarella stressed to the king “the importance for his country of the longstanding friendship between Italy and Jordan.”
Italy is one of Jordan’s main commercial partners. In the first five months of 2021, bilateral trade grew by 26.7 percent compared to the same period the previous year. During the same period, Jordanian exports to Italy grew by 82.7 percent.
During an official lunch at Chigi Palace, Meloni told the king: “We always can do more together in so many fields.”
A source in the prime minister’s office said trade, cultural and defense cooperation were the core issues discussed.
“The situation in Syria was also covered. Many common points were found during the talks,” the source told Arab News.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Defense Minister Guido Crosetto also attended the lunch.
How Israel’s new right-wing government impacts Palestinians
Policies do not receive the attention of the international community, experts say
Palestinians make up 20 percent of population within Israel
Updated 12 sec ago
LONDON: The Israeli government is taking measures to suppress the Palestinian collective national identity and to prohibit their lawful political expression, experts claimed this week.
One expert, Israeli Arab politician Sami Abu Shehadeh, a former Knesset member, also said the recently elected right-wing government in Israel will have a particular impact on Palestinian citizens, who make up 20 percent of the population within Israel.
He was speaking during a Galilee Foundation panel on Wednesday, which discussed the ramifications the government in Israel would have for Palestinians and their struggle for equality.
Abu Shehadeh said that one of the most dangerous signs of what is to come is the Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir’s judicial reforms, which include the ordering of Israeli police to remove any Palestinian flags both inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories.
He added: “The state of Israel doesn’t see our national component as a part of our identity.
“They continue reinventing us as a minority, which doesn’t have a national or religious identity, and that is affecting government policies.”
The landslide victory of Israel’s extremist right-wing parties in December sounded alarm bells throughout Israel and for its historic Western allies, he said.
Abu Shehadeh also said Palestinians can expect discrimination in the education sector as a result of the new government’s stance.
He added: “Most of the world is unaware that the Israeli education system, like the rest of its society, is built on racial separation.”
There are three different official education systems in the country: for Palestinians, for Jewish secular groups, and one for Jewish religious groups.
While all school systems include lessons in modern Zionist history, Palestinians are prohibited from studying their own history, with Israeli Minister of Education Yifat Shasha-Biton once describing it as “dangerous incitement” against the Israeli government and army.
The experts speaking on the panel argued that the fundamental policies of the new coalition government were intended to target Palestinians, and they were not receiving the attention of the international community nor attracting public debate in the country.
They argued the focus had instead shifted toward the new government’s plans for judicial reform, which they said threatened Israeli democracy.
“While the legal reforms are important, the extreme Israeli audience is not waiting for these laws to pass,” Abu Shehadeh said.
Dr. Areen Hawari, director of the gender studies program at the Mada Al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research in Haifa, shared her thoughts on the matter.
She said: “Israel is a settler colonial state, the homeland of other people, just like South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.
“Such colonial states, but particularly Israel, which was established in 1948 after World War II, need strongly as part of their existence to belong to the West.
“In order to be part of the West, you need to introduce that at least you are procedurally democratic.
“That is why the left wing in Israel is ready to fight against these new reforms because if you lose the support of the West, you lose your existence.”
However, Hawari said that, for the first time, the new government “simply doesn't care” about what the West thinks of them.
She claimed this was due to the success of its ongoing occupation, the recent normalization agreements with several Arab countries, the country’s gains during the Trump administration, and the continued silence of the EU.
Dr. Hassan Jabareen, a Palestinian human rights lawyer, acknowledged that among the thousands of Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against the new judicial reforms, several have criticized the country’s treatment of Palestinians.
Equally, he said: “We cannot find ourselves protesting in Tel Aviv in saving Israeli democracy when we do not see Israel as a democratic state. We see ourselves as victims of that very legal system.
“So while it's very difficult for Palestinians to participate in the protest, we agree with some protester leaders that we are in fact the main victims of Israel’s new government.”
As the growing threat of Israel’s extremism looms, Abu Shehadeh told Arab News that Palestinians, especially those settled around the world, need to rethink the way they strategize for their liberation.
He said: “One of our challenges is that we, as Palestinians, are talking to ourselves and people who are similar to us.
“For us activists, everything that is going on [in Palestine] is taken for granted, but a lot of the world doesn’t know the basics.”
He claims activists must continue to educate others who do not know about the Palestinian cause, question, and narrative.
“It is important for the world to see that we are struggling against not a democracy according to its false image. To call it apartheid is not enough… I think this is the most racist society, “ he said.
“People should see this truth in order to support our struggle. We are struggling for peace, justice, and equality for all, both Palestinians and Jews.”
EU to host donor conference on Syria, Turkiye quake aid
"Turkiye and Syria can count on the EU," von der Leyen wrote on Twitter
The European Union said the conference would be held early next month in Brussels
Updated 08 February 2023
BRUSSELS: The EU plans to host a donors conference in March to mobilize international aid for Syria and Turkiye following this week’s devastating earthquake, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
“We are now racing against the clock to save lives together. Soon we will provide relief aid, together. Turkiye and Syria can count on the EU,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
The European Union said the conference would be held early next month in Brussels in coordination with Turkish authorities “to mobilize funds from the international community in support for the people” of both countries.
“No one should be left alone when a tragedy like this hits a people,” von der Leyen said in a statement.
The event is aimed at coordinating the international response to the disaster and “will be open to EU Member States, neighboring countries, UN members” and international lenders, the bloc said.
Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, will co-chair the conference, at a moment when it is facing a block from Turkiye on its push to join NATO.
“Sweden wants to ensure that the EU’s assistance is adequate to meet the need of the Turkish and Syrian people in this terrible time,” Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said.
The European Union was swift to dispatch rescue teams to Turkiye after the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country on Monday close to the border with Syria.
But it initially offered only minimal assistance to Syria through existing humanitarian programs because of EU sanctions imposed since 2011 on the government of President Bashar Assad in response to his brutal crackdown on protesters, which spiralled into a civil war.
On Wednesday, Damascus made an official plea to the EU for help, the bloc’s commissioner for crisis management said.
Now that Damascus has made the move, through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism that coordinates aid, Janez Lenarcic said the commission was asking European countries “to respond favorably to this request.”
The participants in the EU mechanism comprise the 27 EU countries plus eight neighboring non-EU nations that include Norway and Turkiye.
Lebanese victim pulled from rubble 2 days after Turkiye quake; several remain trapped
Ambassador Ghassan Al-Muallem said about 10 to 15 Lebanese were known to have been in the area and most are safe, ‘however 4 or 5 people are still under rubble’
Caretaker PM Najib Mikati sent a ministerial delegation to Damascus on Wednesday to discuss rescue and aid efforts with Turkish officials, including President Bashar Assad
Updated 08 February 2023
BEIRUT: Rescuers in Turkiye pulled Lebanese citizen Basel Habqouq alive from the rubble on Wednesday, 48 hours after the massive earthquake that caused devastating damage and loss of life in the southeast of the country and neighboring Syria.
Meanwhile, teams continue their efforts to free Lebanese youths Elias Haddad and Mohammed Al-Mohammed who are trapped in the debris of the hotel in which they were staying. The efforts to track down other victims from Lebanon continue.
Ghassan Al-Muallem, the Lebanese ambassador to Turkiye, said: “The embassy is working with the Turkish authorities … to ascertain the fate of the missing Lebanese citizens.
“We have been informed that there were 10 to 15 Lebanese in the area that was hit by the earthquake. Most of them are in good condition and we succeeded in communicating with them. However, there are four to five people still under rubble.”
It is difficult to accurately calculate the total number of Lebanese nationals who were in the area at the time of the earthquake because some were not registered as residents and others were visiting as tourists or on business trips.
It is known that Lebanese doctor Wissam Mohammed Khair Al-Asaad died, along with his daughter, though his wife survived.
The Roman Catholic patriarchate in Syria said that Father Imad Daher, a Lebanese priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Aleppo, Syria, had died. His body was found under the rubble of the building in which he lived in Al-Azizia district, Hama.
There are also reports that Lebanese novelist Dalal Zain Al-Din is trapped under rubble in Antakya. Meanwhile, Mohammed Shamma and his son, Sarhan, survived but Shamma’s wife Susan is missing.
Relatives and friends of Lebanese who are missing have posted messages on social media seeking help to find loved ones they have been unable to contact. Among those whose fate remains unknown is Abdel Nour Ajaj, who lives with his family and his brothers in Turkiye, and Fatima Ramiz Zakaria from Tabbaneh, Tripoli.
The Lebanese army said two units of its engineering regiment sent to help the rescue efforts in Turkiye and Syria “continue search and rescue work in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense.” Members of the first unit arrived in the Turkish city of Adana and then traveled to the city of Al-Bustan, while the second unit went to the Syrian city of Jableh.
“Immediately upon their arrival, the two units began working to remove the rubble and search for survivors in difficult weather conditions, low temperatures and an unsafe working environment as a result of the continued aftershocks that could cause additional collapses in the damaged buildings,” officials said.
Beirut Municipality said a rescue team it supplied, consisting of members of Beirut Fire Brigade and the city’s ambulance service, “saved a pregnant Turkish woman and her child who were pulled from the rubble of a completely destroyed building. They also saved a family and many children who were stuck inside a building, part of which had collapsed.”
Ambassador Al-Muallem described the situation rescuers are faced with as “very difficult” and added: “The scenes are more devastating than what we see on television. Some roads are cut off and cannot be accessed as a result of the massive destruction.
“Turkish rescue teams are working to respond to the calls and we are waiting to know the fate of the missing Lebanese.”
In Syria, Talal Daher, charge d’affaires at the Lebanese Embassy in Damascus, said that a family of four from Lebanon had survived in Aleppom but that two Lebanese citizens died in the coastal city of Jableh in Latakia Governorate.
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati sent a ministerial delegation to Damascus on Wednesday to discuss rescue and aid efforts, the repercussions of the earthquake, and Lebanese relief capabilities.
The delegates spent 45 minutes with Syrian President Bashar Assad and also met Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. During the meetings, officials said, they passed on “Lebanon’s solidarity with the Syrian people in this ordeal” and pledged to deploy “available capabilities to help in the areas of relief.”
So far, he has managed to retrieve 10 bodies, helped by residents and rescuers in Besnaya
He, his wife and his children managed to get out of their home in Idlib city alive
Updated 08 February 2023
BESNAYA, Syria: Malek Ibrahim made it out of his home after the earthquake hit Syria and thought he could breathe a sigh of relief. But 30 relatives were still unaccounted for elsewhere.
For the past two days, Ibrahim has been doggedly tearing at the rubble with his hands as he searches for family members who were buried when Monday’s deadly earthquake struck both Syria and Turkiye.
So far, he has managed to retrieve 10 bodies, helped by residents and rescuers in Besnaya, a village in the northwest on the Turkish border that was hard-hit by the disaster.
His uncle, his cousin and their families were all trapped under the debris.
“The whole family is gone. It’s complete genocide,” said the 40-year-old covered in dirt.
He, his wife and his children managed to get out of their home in Idlib city alive.
But he said he had little hope that any of his extended family members pinned down by the collapsed building in Besnaya had survived.
“Every time we recover a body, I remember the beautiful times that we spent together,” he said, weeping as he used a pickaxe to remove yet more wreckage.
Piles of rubble are now strewn across a once quiet and idyllic landscape dotted with olive trees.
“We used to have fun and joke around, but never again... I will never see them again.”
The earthquake killed more than 11,700 people, including more than 2,600 in war-torn Syria.
When the 7.8-magnitude quake hit at dawn on Monday, Ibrahim, his wife and eight children fled their home in Idlib, in the rebel-held northwest.
They had moved there from the southern part of the province after violence in Syria’s long-running war which has killed around half a million people and displaced millions more since 2011.
Ibrahim’s family stayed outside in the street for hours in the pouring rain, as dozens of buildings crumpled to the ground.
As soon as he heard that his family’s building in Besnaya had collapsed, he rushed the 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Idlib city.
“We dig without sleep, hoping that someone may be alive,” he said, although he knows in his heart that the chances of this are slim.
“It’s a feeling I can’t describe, a tragedy,” he said, “We are a doomed people in every sense of the word.”
The earthquake flattened entire blocks of buildings in Besnaya.
Dozens of residents, fighters and rescuers gathered on top of the ruins, digging through the rubble and calling out to any survivors underneath — in the hope that someone will respond.
They have cried with joy when they rescue a survivor, and consoled families anxiously awaiting news of trapped relatives.
Some 20 kilometers to the south, in the village of Ramadiya, Ayman Diri wept as he looked for his brother and eight nephews in the rubble.
After digging for hours, rescuers pulled out the body of his 12-year-old nephew.
Diri said he refused to give up hope that someone might be alive, especially after he managed to rescue others trapped under the collapsed building with the help of rescuers.
“All we can do is hope for the best... although we can see the state of the building,” he said, gazing at the pulverised concrete slabs.
“May God have mercy on my brother, whether he is alive or dead.”
The embassy said it had received alerts about more Yemenis missing after the quake, but did not specify their number
At least five Yemenis are believed to be trapped under rubble
Updated 08 February 2023
AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni doctor working in southern Turkiye and his wife were among the thousands killed by the earthquake that devastated the region, authorities said.
The Yemeni Embassy in Ankara said on Tuesday that Hamedi Al-Ghazali and his wife were in the city of Malatya in the Eastern Anatolia region when the magnitude-7.8 quake struck in the early hours of Monday.
The embassy said it had received alerts about more Yemenis missing after the quake, but did not specify their number.
At least five Yemenis are believed to be trapped under rubble.
The Yemeni Students Union in Turkiye described Al-Ghazali as an exceptional student who received his Ph.D. in medicine from Recep Tayyip Erdogan University in the Turkish city of Rize in 2021 and went to Malatya as a resident doctor two months ago.
The union said that five Yemenis, all students or their families, were still missing under debris in earthquake-hit areas.
About 300 Yemeni students and their families are believed to have been affected by the quake, including at least half that number who were injured or lost property.
Following the Houthi takeover of Yemen in 2014, thousands of Yemeni politicians, tribal leaders, military personnel and journalists fled to Turkiye amid fears of militia violence in their home districts.
In a separate development, two military officers were killed and five others injured by a roadside bomb set by Al-Qaeda on Tuesday in the Omaran valley in Yemen’s southern Abyan province.
Local officials said the blast ripped through a car, killing Col. Abdullah Saad Barajelah and Meshal Abdul Majed Al-Aleani, both military commanders of the Fifth Reinforcement and Support Brigade.
More than 70 Yemeni troops, including many officers, have been killed since late August when the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council launched a military offensive in the southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan to drive Al-Qaeda out of its long-held strongholds.
According to some analysts, Al-Qaeda has collaborated with local tribesmen to plant land mines and IEDs along roads and carry out hit-and-run operations that have killed or wounded more than 200 troops.
Local military leaders said they will continue their offensive until both provinces are free of Al-Qaeda, despite the mounting number of casualties.
Yemen’s army said on Wednesday that sporadic fighting between government troops and the Houthis erupted outside the southern city of Taiz, the latest in a series of militia raids on troops defending the beleaguered city.
The army also announced on Tuesday that it had shot down a Houthi drone over its positions east of Hazem, capital of the northern province of Jouf.