Reversal of Israel approval of new West Bank settlement units urged

Update Palestinians walk past a burnt car, which was set on fire by Israeli settlers, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP file photo)
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Palestinians walk past a burnt car, which was set on fire by Israeli settlers, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP file photo)
Update Palestinian demonstrators gesture next to Israeli forces during a protest against Israeli settlements in Masafer Yatta, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Palestinian demonstrators gesture next to Israeli forces during a protest against Israeli settlements in Masafer Yatta, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 01 July 2023
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Reversal of Israel approval of new West Bank settlement units urged

Palestinians walk past a burnt car, which was set on fire by Israeli settlers, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
  • This week, Israel approved over 5,700 new settlement units
  • Violence has been surging in the West Bank, including deadly clashes in Jenin

LONDON: Britain, Australia and Canada have called on Israel’s government to reverse a decision to approve new settlement units in the West Bank, saying they are “deeply concerned” by an ongoing cycle of violence.
This week, Israel approved over 5,700 new settlement units in the West Bank and earlier this month instituted changes to the settlement approval process which facilitate swifter approval of construction.
“The continued expansion of settlements is an obstacle to peace and negatively impacts efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution. We call on the Government of Israel to reverse these decisions,” the foreign ministers of Britain, Australia and Canada said in a joint statement.
Violence has been surging in the West Bank, including deadly clashes in Jenin, attacks on Palestinian villages by rampaging settlers, and rare use of Israeli air power against militants.

HIGHLIGHT

Violence has been surging in the West Bank, including deadly clashes in Jenin.

The sectarian violence in the West Bank has opened up cracks between Israel’s religious-nationalist government and its security chiefs, who recently issued a joint statement calling the settler rampages “nationalist terrorism.”
That raised hackles among Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right allies, who have long played down the scale and impact of the settler rampages. One of them likened the security chiefs’ statement to the recent mutiny by Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group, but soon apologized amid public outcry.
“An apology after the fact does not eliminate the great damage caused,” military chief Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi said in a speech.
“The IDF operates solely for the security of civilians, hence, its authority.”
“Terrorism and its difficult consequences bring some people to commit acts that are legally and ethically forbidden,” he said.
“An IDF officer who stands by when seeing an Israeli citizen planning to throw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian house cannot be an officer.”
Such assurances have had little sway among the Palestinians, almost a decade since the stalling of US-sponsored efforts to achieve their statehood goals through negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has described the settler rampages as “state-sponsored terrorism.”
Israel’s defense minister condemned rampages by groups of Jewish settlers in Palestinian towns and villages in recent days as his top general warned that officers could not stand by and allow attacks which have drawn strong US censure.
Palestinian officials have accused Israel’s military, which is widely deployed in the West Bank, of ignoring or even abetting the rampages.
Of around a dozen suspected rioters detained, at least two are off-duty soldiers, the military said.
With US dual-nationals among the Palestinian victims, Washington — already at loggerheads with Israel over settlement construction — has stepped up condemnation of what it had called “extremist settler violence” and said it expects accountability.
Briefing Israel’s parliament, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant deplored the rampages as “a dangerous social phenomenon that we must fight.”
He described the perpetrators as a “tiny group” made up of fringe settlers and their supporters from inside Israel.
While he noted that suspects were in custody and said West Bank troops had been reinforced as a precaution, Gallant also said Israeli forces would be challenged to “divide their attention” between the riots and Palestinian militant threats.
“There are 500 Palestinian villages, some of them as large as towns. There are tens of thousands of people (Palestinian residents). You can’t protect all of them at once,” he said.
Interdiction of fellow Israelis was hard “because you’re not using surveillance or the implementation of violent (military) operations against them,” he added.

 


Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships

Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships
Updated 56 min 11 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships

Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships
  • The US military confirmed on Saturday that the UK-owned vessel Rubymar had sunk after being struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile

CAIRO: Yemen’s Houthis vowed on Sunday to continue targeting British ships in the Gulf of Aden following the sinking of UK-owned vessel Rubymar.
The US military confirmed on Saturday that the UK-owned vessel Rubymar had sunk after being struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile fired by Yemeni Houthi militants on Feb. 18.
“Yemen will continue to sink more British ships, and any repercussions or other damages will be added to Britain’s bill,” Hussein Al-Ezzi, deputy foreign minister in the Houthi-led government, said in a post on X.
“It is a rogue state that attacks Yemen and partners with America in sponsoring ongoing crimes against civilians in Gaza.”

Already, many ships have turned away from the route. The sinking could see further detours and higher insurance rates put on vessels plying the waterway — potentially driving up global inflation and affecting aid shipments to the region.

The Belize-flagged Rubymar had been drifting northward after being struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile on Feb. 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The US military’s Central Command previously warned the vessel’s cargo of fertilizer, as well as fuel leaking from the ship, could cause ecological damage to the Red Sea.


Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah

Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah
Updated 03 March 2024
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Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah

Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah
  • The twins — a boy and a girl — were among five children killed in the strike on a house in Rafah
  • The members of the Abu Anza family killed in the strike were lined up in black body bags

RAFAH: Born a few weeks into the Gaza war, infant twins Wesam and Naeem Abu Anza were buried on Sunday, the youngest of 14 members of the same family whom Gaza health authorities say were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah overnight.
Their mother, Rania Abu Anza, held one of the twins, its tiny body wrapped in a white shroud, to her cheek and stroked its head during the funeral on Sunday. A mourner held the second baby close by, pale blue pyjamas visible beneath a shroud.
“My heart is gone,” wept Abu Anza, whose husband was also killed, as mourners comforted her. She resisted when asked to release the body of one of the babies ahead of burial. “Leave her with me,” she said, in a low voice.
The twins — a boy and a girl — were among five children killed in the strike on a house in Rafah, according to the health ministry in Gaza. Abu Anza said she had given birth to them — her first children — after 11 years of marriage.
“We were asleep, we were not shooting and we were not fighting. What is their fault? What is their fault, what is her fault?” Abu Anza said.
“How will I continue to live now?“
Relatives said the twins had been born some four months ago, about a month into the war which began on Oct. 7, when Hamas stormed Israel, in an attack that killed 1,200 people and resulted in another 253 being abducted, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel’s offensive has killed more than 30,000 people in the Gaza Strip since then, according to Gaza health authorities, laying waste to the territory and uprooting most of its population.
The members of the Abu Anza family killed in the strike were lined up in black body bags. A man wept over the body of one of the dead, a child wearing pyjamas. “God have mercy on her, God have mercy on her,” said another man, consoling him.
Abu Anza said she had been wishing for a ceasefire before Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month which begins around March 10.
US President Joe Biden has expressed hope one will be agreed by then. “We were preparing for Ramadan, how am I supposed to live my life? How?” she said.


Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war
Updated 03 March 2024
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Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war
  • Meeting held on the sidelines of GCC ministerial session
  • Foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco discuss Gaza

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council carried its 159th ministerial session in Riyadh on Sunday, while separate meetings were held involving the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

Joint ministerial meeting held on the sidelines between the GCC and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that what is happening in Gaza is a systematic plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Adding that "Security solutions to the conflict have brought nothing but destruction to the region, and the escalation in Gaza extended to the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab"

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Jasem Mohammed Al-Budaiwi firmly reiterated the collective stance of the GCC nations, denouncing the severe Israeli infringements of international humanitarian law in Gaza, particularly its consistent and direct targeting of civilians. Al-Budaiwi also underscored the immediate need for a ceasefire.

Al-Budaiwi also pointed out GCC rejection of any measure that would affect Egypt’s right to the Nile waters and stressed the necessity to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam.


Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war
Updated 03 March 2024
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Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council carried its 159th ministerial session in Riyadh on Sunday, while separate meetings were held involving the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

Joint ministerial meeting held on the sidelines between the GCC and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that what is happening in Gaza is a systematic plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Adding that "Security solutions to the conflict have brought nothing but destruction to the region, and the escalation in Gaza extended to the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab"

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Jasem Mohammed Al-Budaiwi firmly reiterated the collective stance of the GCC nations, denouncing the severe Israeli infringements of international humanitarian law in Gaza, particularly its consistent and direct targeting of civilians. Al-Budaiwi also underscored the immediate need for a ceasefire.

Al-Budaiwi also pointed out GCC rejection of any measure that would affect Egypt’s right to the Nile waters and stressed the necessity to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam.

 


Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media

Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media
Updated 03 March 2024
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Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media

Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media
  • A Hamas official says a ceasefire in Gaza may be secured if Israel accepts group's demands
  • Meanwhile, the Israeli military intensified operations in Khan Younis

CAIRO: Delegations from Hamas, Qatar and the United States have arrived in Egypt for “a new round of negotiations” toward a truce in the Gaza war, state-linked Al-Qahera News reported Sunday.
Cairo, Doha and Washington have mediated in weeks of talks aiming to pause the fighting in the almost five-months-old war between Israel and Hamas sparked by the October 7 attack.
Their goal has been to secure a truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10 or 11, but hopes have been dampened by a series of failed talks since a one-week pause in November.
A Hamas source on Sunday told AFP its delegation to Cairo is being led by senior leader Khalil Al-Haya.
“The delegation will meet Egyptian mediators and deliver the group’s response to the new Paris proposal,” the source said, in reference to negotiations held last month in the French capital with Israel’s presence.
The United States regards Hamas as a “terrorist” organization, and in previous talks Egyptian officials have functioned as the key conduit between US envoys and Hamas, as well as between Israel and Hamas.
The negotiations have centered on a proposal to pause the fighting for six weeks and for Hamas to free hostages in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, and greater aid deliveries.
The war began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.
Gaza militants also abducted 250 hostages, of whom 130 remain in captivity according to Israel, a figure that includes 31 presumed dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory has killed 30,410 people, mostly women and children, the Gaza health ministry reported Sunday.