Israel takes Palestinian minister’s VIP pass in world court flap

Israel takes Palestinian minister’s VIP pass in world court flap
Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki’s “VIP” travel card was confiscated by Israeli border staff as he crossed from Jordan into the occupied West Bank.( File/AFP)
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Updated 08 January 2023

Israel takes Palestinian minister’s VIP pass in world court flap

Israel takes Palestinian minister’s VIP pass in world court flap
  • Netanyahu said the decision entailed “sanctions against senior Palestinian figures”
  • “The Palestinian Authority has promoted an extremist anti-Israeli resolution at the United Nations,” Israeli PM said

JERUSALEM: Israel suspended on Sunday a pass easing the Palestinian foreign minister’s travel in and around the occupied West Bank, among its responses to a Palestinian bid to involve the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in their decades-old conflict.
Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki’s “VIP” travel card was confiscated by Israeli border staff as he crossed from Jordan into the occupied West Bank, his office said.
A spokesperson for Israel’s Defense Ministry, which administers the West Bank, confirmed the move, calling it part of the implementation of a government decision on Friday.
In televised remarks to the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision entailed, among other measures, “sanctions against senior Palestinian figures.”
“The Palestinian Authority has promoted an extremist anti-Israeli resolution at the United Nations,” Netanyahu said.
The UN General Assembly, responding to an appeal by the Palestinians, on Dec. 30 asked the ICJ for an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
On Saturday, Israel’s Defense Ministry said the VIP cards of three other senior Palestinian officials had been revoked in response to them visiting a member of Israel’s Arab minority who had been imprisoned for killing an Israeli soldier.
Issued under interim accords with Israel from the 1990s, the cards ease travel across the Israeli-controlled West Bank border with Jordan and from Palestinian-ruled territory into Israel.
“The foreign minister will continue his job and his diplomatic activities with or without the card,” Ahmed Al-Deek, an aide to Maliki, told Reuters.
Israel had confiscated Maliki’s VIP card in 2021 after he returned from a meeting of the International Criminal Court. It was not immediately clear when and why the card had been restored.


Kuwait pledges $90m to support earthquake survivors in Turkiye, Syria

Kuwait pledges $90m to support earthquake survivors in Turkiye, Syria
Updated 23 March 2023

Kuwait pledges $90m to support earthquake survivors in Turkiye, Syria

Kuwait pledges $90m to support earthquake survivors in Turkiye, Syria
  • It is the largest pledge from any country since the disaster in February: Kuwait News Agency
  • Financial aid will support UN in providing food, education, shelter, healthcare to around 18m people

NEW YORK: Kuwait has pledged $90 million to support survivors of the earthquakes that struck Turkiye and Syria in February.

The pledge is the largest made by any country since the disaster, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Wednesday. 

It will assist UN organizations in providing food, education, shelter, healthcare and other necessities to approximately 18 million affected people. 

The UN has appealed for $398 million for an urgent response in Syria and $1 billion for Turkiye. 

So far, 79 percent of the target number for Syria has been met, while 19 percent of the target number for Turkiye has been met. 

Martin Griffiths, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, expressed concern that the amount of funding is nowhere near the target, but praised Kuwait’s pledge.

 


10 dead in new attack by Houthis in Yemen

10 dead in new attack by Houthis in Yemen
Updated 23 March 2023

10 dead in new attack by Houthis in Yemen

10 dead in new attack by Houthis in Yemen

JEDDAH: At least 10 Yemeni government soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a renewed Houthi militia offensive in the contested central province of Marib.

The new attack shattered a truce that had largely held since last April, and came amid renewed diplomatic efforts to end the eight-year war.

“The Houthis launched an attack on hills overlooking Harib district, south of Marib, and made progress on that front, causing the displacement of dozens of families,” a Yemeni military source said. “At least 10 soldiers were killed, in addition to an unknown number of attackers.”

The fighting comes a month after at least four soldiers were killed in the same district, and dents new optimism after Saudi Arabia and Iran, who back opposing sides in the war, agreed to restore diplomatic ties.
“The Houthis are interested in sending a clear political message that ... the Riyadh-Tehran deal does not mean they will just surrender,” said Maged Al-Madhaji, an analyst at the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies think tank. “The Houthis lean more toward the option of a military confrontation than current negotiations.”

An exchange of hundreds of prisoners was agreed this week and Hans Grundberg, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for Yemen, has said “intense diplomatic efforts” were underway to reach a peace deal.
An open letter on Wednesday from NGOs in Yemen including included Oxfam and Save the Children urgedthe warring sides to reach a truce and move toward an “inclusive Yemeni peace process.”


 


Five migrants drown, 28 missing off Tunisia

Five migrants drown, 28 missing off Tunisia
Updated 23 March 2023

Five migrants drown, 28 missing off Tunisia

Five migrants drown, 28 missing off Tunisia
  • Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for social and economic rights said it had sunk “because it was overloaded” with 38 people
  • The boat had set off from the coastal region of Sfax in the direction of the Italian island of Lampedusa

TUNIS: Five migrants from sub-Saharan Africa drowned and another 28 were missing Wednesday after their boat capsized off Tunisia, a rights group said.
“Five migrants’ bodies were recovered and five other migrants were rescued, but 28 are still missing,” said Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for social and economic rights (FTDES).
He said it had sunk “because it was overloaded” with 38 people, mostly from the Ivory Coast.
The boat had set off from the coastal region of Sfax in the direction of the Italian island of Lampedusa, a popular launchpad for people from people escaping war and persecution across Africa to try to reach safety in Europe.
The sinking is the latest such tragedy on the central Mediterranean, known as the world’s deadliest migration route.
It comes a month after President Kais Saied made an incendiary speech accusing migrants from sub-Saharan Africa of representing a “plot” against Tunisia and causing a wave of crime.
His comments sparked a wave of violence against black migrants, and landlords fearing fines evicted hundreds of people who are now camping in the streets of Tunis.
Migrants, many of whom fear they will face violence if they go home, have called on the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR to evacuate them.
Around 21,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are believed to be in the country of 12 million people.


Israel’s policies ‘threaten ties with Arab countries’

Israel’s policies ‘threaten ties with Arab countries’
Updated 22 March 2023

Israel’s policies ‘threaten ties with Arab countries’

Israel’s policies ‘threaten ties with Arab countries’

RAMALLAH: The Israeli government’s extremist policies are threatening diplomatic ties with Arab countries amid efforts to normalize relations, political analysts and observers warn.

On Wednesday, the Jordanian Parliament voted in support of a proposal to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman in protest at comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Parliamentary Speaker Ahmed Al-Safadi called on the government to take effective measures over Smotrich’s use of a map that allegedly “includes the borders of the kingdom and the occupied Palestinian territories.”

A veteran Arab diplomat, who declined to be named, told Arab News that the extremist Israeli government will not be accepted, even by countries that have normalized relations with Israel, such as the UAE.

This is especially true “when Israeli ministers state there is nothing called the Palestinian people and that Jordan is part of Israel,” the diplomat added.

“If these Israeli government policies continue, those countries will have stronger reactions that may include the withdrawal of their ambassadors from Tel Aviv.”

On Wednesday, media reports suggested that the UAE is considering reducing its diplomatic representation in Israel over Smotrich’s claim that “there is no such thing as the Palestinian people.”
 
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs is believed to have told its ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Al-Khaja, to avoid meeting any Israeli official.
 
On Tuesday, Bahrain also condemned Smotrich’s statements.

The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Bahrain rejects “incitement rhetoric and practices that contradict moral and human values, and undermine efforts and international peace.”

Israeli government policy also appears to have angered Israel’s closest ally, the US. In a rare move, the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Michael Herzog, was summoned to the State Department on Tuesday following the passing of legislation that will allow resettlement in areas of the northern West Bank.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks with Herzog, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said.

The two diplomats also “discussed the importance of all parties refraining from actions or rhetoric that could further inflame tensions leading into Ramadan, Passover and the Easter holidays,” Patel said.

Israeli political analyst Yoni Ben Menachem said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs Smotrich and Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir as partners in the government coalition and has to respond to their demands.

“They will continue to blackmail him,” Ben Menachem said.

“Arab countries and the US must understand the difficult situation of Netanyahu, who is facing political blackmail,” he added.


UAE Food Bank launches initiative to distribute 3m meals, achieve zero food waste in Ramadan

UAE Food Bank launches initiative to distribute 3m meals, achieve zero food waste in Ramadan
Updated 22 March 2023

UAE Food Bank launches initiative to distribute 3m meals, achieve zero food waste in Ramadan

UAE Food Bank launches initiative to distribute 3m meals, achieve zero food waste in Ramadan
  • Bank highlights its commitment to humanitarian message of serving the needy during holy month
  • Initiatives aim to promote social responsibility and volunteering among community members

DUBAI: The UAE Food Bank has launched initiatives to provide 3 million meals and food parcels to disadvantaged people in the UAE and abroad during Ramadan, the Emirates’ News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Besides distributing the donated meals, the initiatives are aimed at managing food surplus, reducing waste, and providing sustenance to those in need, both within and beyond the UAE.
In affiliation with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives and in collaboration with various partners, the UAE Food Bank announced the initiatives for the holy month under the directives of its chairperson Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum.
The organization also seeks to raise public awareness regarding the crucial goal of achieving zero food waste.
Deputy chairperson Dawoud Al-Hajjri emphasised the organization’s commitment to its humanitarian message of serving the needy.
“Through its diverse initiatives, the UAE Food Bank aims to promote these values globally, in accordance with its vision and mission of managing food surplus, reducing waste, and delivering food to beneficiaries locally and worldwide,” Al-Hajjri said.
The initiatives will foster social responsibility and collaboration between the bank, its partners, and members of society.
“The projects’ ultimate goals are to provide food to as many people in need as possible, while minimizing waste, reflecting the bank’s mission to manage food surplus and ensure its delivery to beneficiaries, locally and globally,” said Al-Hajjri.
Manal bin Yaarouf, chairperson of the steering committee, outlined the bank’s plans for Ramadan, highlighting the critical role of cooperation between all food enterprises.
“The bank will work with these partners to gather 3 million meals, which will be transported to the bank and then sent outside the UAE in collaboration with the Emirates Red Crescent. Hotels and iftar tents will also play a vital role in collecting any surplus food, and authorities will work together to identify the optimal time and location to deliver this food to the bank and charitable organizations,” said bin Yaarouf.
She also emphasised the crucial role of engagement with the private sector, highlighting the bank’s plans to strengthen its collaboration with recycling businesses that convert food unfit for human consumption into oils and agricultural fertilizers to support sustainability and protect the environment.
Bin Yaarouf said the bank also launched the “Your harees on us” initiative in collaboration with Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department to promote social responsibility and volunteering among community members.
“The initiative encourages restaurants to reserve at least one portion of harees, a traditional Emirati dish, and distribute it to iftar tents. This initiative aims to foster the values of giving and generosity,” she said.