‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed

‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed
This picture taken on January 25, 2023 from the Shuafat camp for Palestinian refugees shows a view of the settlement of Pisgat Zeev and the Palestinian village of Hizma in the northern part of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, and the Palestinian area of Al-Ram in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Updated 25 January 2023

‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed

‘Coming storm’ as expanded Israeli settler plan revealed
  • Poll shows continued decline in support for two-state solution among Palestinians and Israelis
  • Under Israel’s One Million Settlers plan, approval will be given to thousands of settlements put on hold during the past two-and-a-half years

RAMALLAH: The Israeli government is planning unprecedented settlement activities in the West Bank, including the building of 18,000 housing units in the coming months, an Israeli newspaper revealed on Wednesday.
The move, which is seen as a serious threat to the Palestinians, was described by the Israeli newspaper Israel Today as a “revolution in Israeli politics in the West Bank” and a “mini-annexation.”
Under Israel’s One Million Settlers plan, approval will be given to thousands of settlements put on hold during the past two-and-a-half years.
The project also envisages the construction of 18,000 units in the coming months, along with the transfer of hundreds of thousands of settlers to the West Bank, and the registration of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in official Israeli government data.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the new Israeli government is engaged in a frantic race against time to impose new realities on the ground, which will leave talk of a two-state solution “unrealistic and irrational.”
It also undermines any opportunity for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and permanently closes the door on any international and regional efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully, the ministry added.
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, met settler leaders and told them of a campaign for the demolition of Palestinian homes and facilities in all areas classified as C under plans announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The newspaper said that the new government will work to legitimize settlement outposts, including Avitar and Homesh, near Nablus, by amending the “separation/withdrawal” law and linking the sites to basic infrastructure.
The Israeli Civil Administration’s powers will be transferred from the Ministry of Defense to another ministry, facilitating settlement construction plans and paving new settlement roads.
The newspaper compared the plan to “a coming storm,” adding that it comes as responsibilities are organized between Gallant and Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich.
Meanwhile, Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal condemned the Israeli Knesset’s extension of emergency regulations that impose Israeli laws on settlements in the occupied West Bank, known as the “apartheid” law, for an additional five years.
Nazzal said the unilateral step directly threatened Palestinian rights. “The Israeli government’s approach of expanding the base of racist anti-democratic legislation threatens the rights of the Palestinian people in the territories occupied by Israel.
“Israel seeks to exploit the apartheid law to imprison Palestinians from the occupied territories inside Israel. This constitutes a violation of international law, which prohibits the occupying state from imprisoning residents.”
Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News that the current Israeli government poses a greater threat to Palestinians than previous leaderships, especially in Area C and East Jerusalem.
“The issue of Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem will negatively affect Israel’s relations with the Arab countries. Expanding settlements in Area C will negatively affect Israel’s ties with both the EU and the US, which wants to keep the possibility of a two-state solution alive, while Israeli settlement activities endanger it,” Al-Khatib said.
In another development, a joint Palestinian-Israeli survey showed a continued decline in support for the two-state solution among both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Palestinian-Israeli Pulse opinion poll was carried out in December 2022 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah and the International Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University.
It shows that support for the two-state solution dropped significantly from 43 percent in September 2020 to 33 percent among Palestinians and 34 percent among Jewish Israelis.
Two-thirds of Palestinians and 53 percent of Israeli Jews oppose this solution. Support remains unchanged among Arab Israelis, standing at 60 percent with 21 percent opposed, although this percentage is much lower than it was before 2020.
Support for the two-state solution now stands among all Israelis, Arabs, and Jews at 39 percent. These approval ratings among Palestinians, Israeli Jews and all Israelis are the lowest since the launch of the survey in June 2016 and the lowest since the start of the Oslo peace process in the early 1990s.
The respondents examined the idea of a confederation between two states, Israel and Palestine. They laid out its main details in five components, including freedom of movement, nationality and residence for refugees and settlers, Jerusalem, and the formation of joint authorities for civil affairs.
The results indicate an almost identical level of support among Palestinians and Israeli Jews for this idea, 21 percent and 22 percent respectively. The percentage for this among Arab Israelis is 59. Gazans were found more supportive of this than Palestinians in the West Bank.
The survey indicated that the one-state solution with equal rights receives the support of 20 percent of Israeli Jews, 44 percent of Arab Israelis, and 23 percent of Palestinians.
The one-state solution in which Israel controls and the Palestinians do not enjoy equal rights has the support of 37 percent of Israeli Jews.
On the other hand, a solution in which Palestine controls but the Jewish side does not enjoy equal rights would have the support of 30 percent of Palestinians and 20 percent of Arab Israelis.
The vast majority of Israeli Jews (84 percent) and 61 percent of Palestinians believe they do not have a partner for peace on the other side. Consequently, the two sides believe there is no chance of a peace agreement. Also, the results indicate that only 17 percent of the Palestinians believe that most Israelis want peace.
The poll shows that only 12 percent of Israeli Jews believe that most Palestinians want peace, compared with 33 percent in mid-2017, 35 percent in mid-2018, and 19 percent in 2020.
The largest percentage of both sides — 52 percent among Israeli Jews and 44 percent among Palestinians — believe the other side wants to wage a decisive war or resort to armed struggle.
Likewise, the largest percentage of Jewish Israelis (82 percent) and Palestinians (75 percent) believe that the other side will never accept its existence as an independent state.
The vast majority of Palestinian and Israeli Jews, 86 percent and 85 percent, respectively, believe that the other side cannot be trusted, while among Israeli Arabs, 50 percent think so.
“It is natural that support for the two-state solution declines and trust decreases between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, with the existence of such an Israeli policy that adopts settlements and denies the rights of the Palestinians,” Al-Khatib said.
Meanwhile, following a meeting between Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman on Jan. 24 in which the Israeli leader pledged to preserve the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israeli national security minister, said: “I will continue my storming of Al-Aqsa in the future, and no one has sovereignty over it except Israel.”
Jordan has asked Israel to allow the construction of a fifth minaret on the eastern wall of the mosque to strengthen its guardianship of Al-Aqsa and its courtyards.
The request poses a challenge to Netanyahu, Israeli experts said.


Powerful earthquake strikes Turkiye, heavy destruction reported in some cities

Powerful earthquake strikes Turkiye, heavy destruction reported in some cities
Updated 4 min 57 sec ago

Powerful earthquake strikes Turkiye, heavy destruction reported in some cities

Powerful earthquake strikes Turkiye, heavy destruction reported in some cities
  • Temblor felt in neighboring countries, particularly in Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria and Jordan

Videos posted on social networks showed destroyed buildings in several cities in the southeast of the country.

 

 

RIYADH/ANKARA: A powerful earthquake struck Turkiye on early Monday, international earthquake monitors said.

A preliminary report of the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) measured the quake at Magnitude 7.7, with a shallow depth of 10 kilometers.

The US Geological Survey measured the temblor at 7.9, centered at 7 kilometers from Nurdadi/Gaziantep, in southern Turkey.

USGS said the quake struck at 04:17 am local time (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 17.9 kilometers (11 miles).

The quake was felt as far as Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, and Lebanon, the USGS said.

Turkiye's disaster management agency, AFAD, measured the quake at magnitude 7.4.

USGS reported another shallow 6.7-magnitude quake occurring near the site of the first about 15 minutes after.

The southern region of Gaziantep — one of Turkiye’s key industrial and manufacturing hubs — borders Syria. 

Turkish authorities have not yet reported any deaths or injuries, but videos posted on social networks showed destroyed buildings in several cities in the southeast of the country.

Turkiye is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

Duzce was one of the regions hit by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkiye in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

A magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people.

And in October that year, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit the Aegean Sea, killing 114 people and wounding more than 1,000.

(With agencies)

 

 


Turkiye’s President Erdogan says Western missions will ‘pay’ for closures

A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. (AP)
A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2023

Turkiye’s President Erdogan says Western missions will ‘pay’ for closures

A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. (AP)
  • Turkiye suspended negotiations for Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession last month following a protest in Stockholm during which a copy of the Qur'an was burned

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Western missions would “pay” for issuing security warnings and temporarily closing consulates in Turkiye last week, while police said there was no serious threat to foreigners after detaining 15 Daesh suspects on Sunday.
Ankara summoned the ambassadors of nine countries on Thursday to criticize their decisions to temporarily shut diplomatic missions and issue security alerts. Turkish officials said the following day that Western nations, including the United States and Germany, had not shared information to back up their claims of a security threat.
“The other day our foreign ministry summoned all of them and gave the necessary ultimatum, told them ‘You will pay for this heavily if you keep this up,’” Erdogan said during a meeting with youth that was pre-recorded and broadcast on Sunday.
Alongside the closures, several Western states warned citizens of a heightened risk of attacks to diplomatic missions and non-Muslim places of worship in Turkiye, following a series of far-right protests in Europe in recent weeks that included several incidents of burning copies of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an.
Turkiye suspended negotiations for Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession last month following a protest in Stockholm during which a copy of the Qur'an was burned.
Erdogan said that the Western states were “playing for (more) time” and that the “necessary decisions” would be taken during Monday’s cabinet meeting, without elaborating.
’NO CONCRETE THREATS’
Earlier on Sunday, police said they had not found evidence of any concrete threat to foreigners in the detentions of 15 Daesh suspects accused of targeting consulates and non-Muslim houses of worship, state media reported.
Anadolu Agency cited an Istanbul police statement saying the suspects had “received instructions for acts targeting consulates of Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Christian and Jewish places of worship.”
While the suspects’ ties to the jihadist group were confirmed, no concrete threats toward foreigners were found, the statement said.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated on Saturday Turkiye’s frustration with what it says is Sweden’s inaction toward entities that Ankara accuses of terrorist activity. All 30 NATO members must ratify newcomers.
Turkiye, Sweden and Finland signed an agreement in June aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to their NATO bids, with the Nordic states pledging to take a harder line primarily against local members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
 

 


Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide

Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide
Updated 05 February 2023

Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide

Yemen’s Taiz mourns 2 children who committed suicide
  • Calls grow for deeper investigation into motivations and protection of youngsters amid shock and despair

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Security services of the southern Yemeni city of Taiz said that two children committed suicide in two separate events on Saturday, leaving the beleaguered population in shock and despair.

Police in Taiz said in a statement that they were notified of two suicide victims in the city on Saturday evening, citing the deaths as “dangerous precedents.”

Police named the first child as 12-year-old Kareem Abdul Kareem from the Al-Jamhuria neighborhood, who hanged himself inside his room on Saturday afternoon by tying a scarf around his neck.

Ammar Khaled, a 16-year-old who committed suicide on Saturday evening by wrapping a rope around his neck and tying it to a door outside his family’s home, is the second victim. 

After forensic investigators gathered photographs and evidence, his family requested his burial on the same day. 

Police in Taiz pledged to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the victims and have asked the community and professionals for assistance in determining the reasons behind the suicides.

In a statement, police urged both authorities and members of the public “to collaborate…in order to provide the appropriate answers.”

Mohammed Alawi, an investigator with police in Taiz, told Arab News that a team, including social and psychiatric professionals, was looking into the cases and would release their findings this week.

Initially, Alawi ruled out the possibility of cyberbullying or even sexual harassment and attributed the deaths of the two children to the mobile game PUBG. 

“These are risky games, and we advise parents to monitor their children’s mobile devices to see what they are seeing or playing,” Alawi said.

He also touched on other instances of suicide, which he blamed on psychological suffering caused by the war.

“Women and children in Yemen, particularly in besieged Taiz, have suffered emotionally because of the war. We had never seen such crimes before the war,” he said.  

On social media, the police statement and photographs of the two deceased children have elicited condolences for the families and calls for an investigation into the motivations behind the suicides and for the protection of children.

“You should investigate with the family about the electronic games they played, such as PUBG, and whether they have Facebook or WhatsApp accounts,” said Adnan Taha on Facebook.

“All communications should be reviewed, since (the children) may be vulnerable to harassment and extortion,” Taha said.

Another social media user, Muneir Al-Qaisi, urged local security agencies not to bury the victims before autopsies are conducted to determine whether they consumed anything poisonous.

“We hope you will not hurry to bury them and (will) examine their bodies,” Al-Qaisi said. 

“It is conceivable that the parents are unaware of beverages or meals being shared among the children,” said Al-Qaisi.

Investigator Alawi responded to accusations of a hasty burial by stating that one of the boys was buried at the request of his family and only after investigators examined both the corpse and the scene.

“He was buried after forensic teams examined the scene, photographed it, and performed investigations. Additionally, his relatives requested burial from the prosecution,” Alawi said.


Lebanon hopes UNESCO danger listing could save crumbling modernist fairground

Lebanon hopes UNESCO danger listing could save crumbling modernist fairground
Updated 05 February 2023

Lebanon hopes UNESCO danger listing could save crumbling modernist fairground

Lebanon hopes UNESCO danger listing could save crumbling modernist fairground
  • Rachid Karami International Fair has decayed due to conflict, poor maintenance and country’s financial crisis

TRIPOLI: Its arch is cracking and its vast pavilions lie empty, but the crumbling Rachid Karami International Fair in Lebanon’s port city Tripoli now has hope of revival, having been added to the United Nations’ list of world heritage sites in danger.
Designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1962, the collection of structures on the 70-hectare plot is considered one of the key works of 20th century modernism in the Middle East.
But the fair park has slowly decayed due to repeated rounds of fighting over the last 60 years, poor maintenance and most recently Lebanon’s crippling, three-year-old financial crisis.
“It was placed on the World Heritage List exceptionally, quickly and urgently – and on the list of heritage in danger because it’s in a critical situation,” said Joseph Kreidi, UNESCO’s national program officer for culture in Beirut.
Its elegant arch is missing concrete in some parts, exposing the rebar underneath. Rainwater has pooled at the locked entrances. One section is sealed off by a sign that reads, “Unsafe building entry.”
“Placing it on the World Heritage Danger List is an appeal to all countries of the world, as if to say: this site needs some care,” said Kreidi.
He said it was up to the Lebanese authorities to draw together a plan for the site’s protection and rehabilitation but that UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, could help search for funding and provide technical expertise.
Lebanon has five other sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, most of them citadels and ancient temples.
Niemeyer is recognized as one of the fathers of modern architecture and the site in Tripoli was an early foray into the Middle East.
Construction of the fairground began in the 1960s but was delayed when civil war erupted in Lebanon in 1975. Fighters used the site to stage operations and stored weapons underneath its concrete dome.
Mira Minkara, a freelance tour guide from Tripoli and a member of the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation’s Tripoli chapter, has fond – but rare – memories of the fairground as a child.
For the most part, it was off-limits to Tripoli’s residents given safety concerns. But Minkara remembered her first visit during a festival of pan-African culture and crafts.
She hopes that UNESCO’s recognition could bring new festivals, exhibitions and economic benefits to Tripoli – already one of the poorest cities on the Mediterranean before Lebanon’s financial meltdown began.
Lebanon’s cultural heritage has been hit hard in recent years. The 2020 Beirut port blast tore through 19th-century homes in historic neighborhoods and power outages caused by the financial crisis have cut supplies to the national museum.
“We hope things change a little,” Minkara said. “It’s high time for this fairground to emerge from this long sleep, this almost-death.”


Egypt cancels World Youth Forum in light of global challenges

Egypt cancels World Youth Forum in light of global challenges
Updated 05 February 2023

Egypt cancels World Youth Forum in light of global challenges

Egypt cancels World Youth Forum in light of global challenges
  • Budget for event will instead be used to fund development initiatives
  • Event was set to start later this month

CAIRO: In response to a host of global economic challenges, this year’s World Youth Forum, which was set to start later this month, has been canceled, its organizers said on Saturday.

Instead, the budget for the event, which was to be held in the Egyptian town of Sharm El-Sheikh, will be used to fund the implementation of five development initiatives aimed at young people in Egypt and beyond.

This year would have marked the fifth edition of the forum, with the fourth being held in January last year. The event is organized by the Presidential Program for Qualifying Youth for Leadership.

It said the decision to cancel this year's conference was an acknowledgment of the multiple crises facing the world that have put huge humanitarian and economic pressures on nations and governments.

Among the beneficiaries of the redirected funding is a series of international exchange programs for young people. These will be arranged in cooperation with the Decent Life Foundation, National Alliance for Civil Development Action, Arab Union for Volunteering and UN Volunteers Program.

Parliamentary Counselor Issam Hilal Afifi told Arab News that the proceeds from the sponsorship rights to this year’s forum would be redirected toward a large package of initiatives.

Dr. Muhammad Mahmoud Mahran, secretary-general of the International Committee for the Defense of Water Resources, said the move would also enable recommendations made at the previous forum to be implemented.

The planned initiatives would have a positive impact at the local, African and global level, he said.