Saudi Arabia joins global calls for de-escalation of conflict between Palestinians, Israelis

Update Saudi Arabia joins global calls for de-escalation of conflict between Palestinians, Israelis
Smoke is seen in the Rehovot area in Israel as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 October 2023
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Saudi Arabia joins global calls for de-escalation of conflict between Palestinians, Israelis

Saudi Arabia joins global calls for de-escalation of conflict between Palestinians, Israelis
  • Countries urge utmost restraint to avoid exposing civilians to further danger
  • ‘Unequivocal’ condemnation of ‘terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has called for an “immediate halt to the escalation of conflict between Palestinians and Israel” after Hamas militants carried out an unprecedented attack on daybreak Saturday.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that it “is closely following developments in the unprecedented situation between a number of Palestinian factions and the Israeli occupation forces, which has resulted in a high level of violence taking place on a number of fronts there.”

“We recall our repeated warnings of the dangers of the situation exploding as a result of the continued occupation,” the statement said. It also called on the international community to activate a credible peace process that would lead to a two-state solution.

Foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the escalation of the violence in Gaza, the foreign ministry said.

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jassem Albudaiwi called for an immediate cease-fire between the two sides to protect innocent civilians.

He “held the Israeli occupation forces responsible for the current situation resulting from the continuous and flagrant Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people and holy sites,” the GCC said in a statement.

Albudaiwi added that the ongoing Israeli attacks represent a blatant violation of international conventions and laws, hindering the peace process for resolving the Palestinian issue. 

The UAE foreign affairs ministry, in a statement on social media, also called for an ‘end to the escalation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’

The UAE has called for exercising the utmost restraint and an immediate ceasefire in order to avoid serious repercussions, and “urged the international community to immediately reactivate the international Quartet to revive the path process of Arab-Israeli peace, and increase all efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, and prevent the region from experiencing further violence, tension, and instability.”

Kuwait expressed its “grave concern” over the developments, blaming Israel for what it called its “blatant attacks.”

The foreign ministry in a statement called on the international community to “stop the provocative practices by the occupation” and the “policy of expanding settlements.”

Oman also called on both parties to “exercise utmost levels of restraint, stressing the importance of protecting civilians.”

“Oman is following with concern the ongoing escalation between the Palestinian and Israeli sides as a result of continued illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, constant Israeli aggressions, which portend serious repercussions,” Oman’s state media said.

Egypt urged the Palestinians and Israel to “exercise restraint” and warned of the “dire danger of ongoing escalation.”

Egypt also called on the international community to “urge Israel to stop the attacks and provocative actions against the Palestinian people and to adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law with regard to the responsibilities of an occupying state.”

Military operations undertaken by the Palestinian people on Saturday are a natural result of decades of “systemic oppression” by the “Zionist Occupation authority,” a statement by the Iraqi government’s official spokesperson said.

The statement also warned of a continued escalation in the Palestinian territories, which it said could affect the stability of the region.

The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves against the “terror of settlers and occupation troops,” the official news agency WAFA quoted President Mahmoud Abbas as saying.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned of the “volatility” of the situation, “particularly in light of what cities and areas of the West Bank are witnessing of Israeli attacks and violations against the Palestinian people.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile has called “on Israelis, Palestinians to act with restraint, refrain from aggressive acts that will exacerbate situation.”

“We invite all parties to act reasonably and to stay away from impulsive steps that raise tensions,” Erdogan said.

Qatar’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Israel alone was responsible for the ongoing escalation of violence with the Palestinian people.

It said Qatar calls on both sides to exercise utmost restraint and calls on the international community to prevent Israel from using these events as an excuse to launch a disproportionate war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Bahrain called for self-restraint in the Gaza Strip, saying that continued fighting had negative consequences on the region’s peace and stability.

It stressed “the need for de-escalation among all parties to preserve the lives of people” in a statement from the foreign ministry.

“The continuation of violence will impede efforts aiming at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” it said, adding that it called upon the international community to help end the armed conflict and to protect civilians.

Morocco expressed “its deep concern at the deterioration of the situation and the outbreak of military action in the Gaza Strip, and condemns attacks against civilians wherever they may be,” a foreign ministry statement said.

“The kingdom calls for an immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, protection of civilians, and self-control,” it added.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged “an immediate halt to military operations in Gaza” and “the cycle of armed confrontation between the two sides.”

He said: “Israel’s continued implementation of violent and extremist policies is a time bomb depriving the region of any serious opportunity for stability in the foreseeable future.”

The Jeddah-based Organization for Islamic Cooperation — that the attack was “a result of the continued occupation and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights.”

The Muslim World League and the Arab Parliament echoed similar statements.

A White House National Security Council spokesperson said the US “unequivocally condemns” attacks by the Palestinian group Hamas against Israeli civilians and firmly stands with the government and people of Israel, CNN reported on Saturday.

Citing a statement from the spokesperson, CNN reported that White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had spoken with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, and would remain in close contact.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday warned “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation” after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack.

 

 

Biden said in his statement that he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and underlined that the United States stood “ready to offer all appropriate means of support.”

“I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” Biden said in a statement issued after their call.

“Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation,” Biden added.

Russia has also urged for ‘restraint’ after the attacks on Israel.

“We are now in contact with everyone. With the Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian private news agency Interfax, adding: “Of course, we always call for restraint.”

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said that she ‘unequivocally’ condemned the ‘terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel’, adding that it was ‘terrorism in its most contemptible form’.

“This horrific violence must stop immediately. Terrorism and violence solve nothing. The EU expresses its solidarity with Israel in these difficult moments,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell meanwhile said.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte meanwhile said: “Appalling images from Israel. Terror organization Hamas is waging an unprecedented attack on Israel... This violence must stop; Israel has every right to defend itself.”

“The UK unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. The UK will always support Israel’s right to defend itself,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a post on social media.

Italy meanwhile said it backed “Israel’s right to defend itself” against the “brutal attack” underway after hundreds of rockets were fired on its territory from Gaza.

The Italian government said it “condemns in the strongest terms the terror and the violence underway against innocent civilians”, adding: “We back the right of Israel to defend itself”.

Spain’s acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares on social media platform X on Saturday condemned attacks from Gaza against Israel.

“We strongly condemn the very serious terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel.

“Overwhelmed by this indiscriminate violence. All our solidarity (is) with the victims.”

German top envoy Annalena Baerbock said that Germany “firmly condemns the terrorist attacks from Gaza against Israel” and it “has our full solidarity” and “the right, guaranteed by international law, to defend itself against terrorism.”

The French foreign ministry also condemned “in the strongest possible terms the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israel and its population” after the firing of hundreds of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

France “expresses its full solidarity with Israel and the victims of these attacks. It reaffirms its absolute rejection of terrorism and its commitment to Israel’s security”, the ministry added.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also strongly condemned attacks in a post on social media.

Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament meanwhile said: We condemn the attacks launched by Hamas on Israel.”

Stephanie Hallett, the US Chargé d’Affaires to Israel said on social media: “I condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. I am in contact with Israeli officials, and fully support Israel’s right to defend itself from such terrorist acts.

“Sickened by the images coming out of southern Israel of dead and wounded civilians at the hands of terrorists from Gaza. The United States stands with Israel.”

Ukraine’s foreign ministry also condemned what it described as “ongoing terrorist attacks” on Israel.

“Ukraine strongly condemns the ongoing terrorist attacks against Israel, including rocket attacks against the civilian population in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” the ministry said on the social media platform X.

(With Agencies)


Afghan Taliban government says to attend third round of UN-hosted Doha talks

Afghan Taliban government says to attend third round of UN-hosted Doha talks
Updated 16 June 2024
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Afghan Taliban government says to attend third round of UN-hosted Doha talks

Afghan Taliban government says to attend third round of UN-hosted Doha talks
  • Mujahid told local media on Sunday the decision had been made to send a delegation, the members of which would be announced later, because it was deemed “beneficial to Afghanistan”

KABUL: Taliban authorities will attend the third round of United Nations-hosted talks on Afghanistan in the Qatari capital, a government spokesman told AFP on Sunday, after snubbing an invitation to the previous round.
“A delegation of the Islamic Emirate will participate in the coming Doha conference. They will represent Afghanistan there and express Afghanistan’s position,” Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said of the talks, which are scheduled to start June 30.
The participation of the Taliban authorities in the two-day conference of special envoys on Afghanistan had been in doubt after they were not included in the first round and then refused an invitation to the second round in February.
Mujahid told local media on Sunday the decision had been made to send a delegation, the members of which would be announced later, because it was deemed “beneficial to Afghanistan”.


Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal ‘consistent’ with principles of US plan, leader says

Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal ‘consistent’ with principles of US plan, leader says
Updated 16 June 2024
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Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal ‘consistent’ with principles of US plan, leader says

Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal ‘consistent’ with principles of US plan, leader says
  • Egypt and Qatar said on June 11 that they had received a response from the Palestinian groups to the US plan

CAIRO: Hamas’ response to the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal is consistent with the principles put forward in US President Joe Biden’s plan, the group’s Qatar-based leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech on the occasion of the Islamic Eid Al-Adha on Sunday.
“Hamas and the (Palestinian) groups are ready for a comprehensive deal which entails a ceasefire, withdrawal from the strip, the reconstruction of what was destroyed and a comprehensive swap deal,” Haniyeh said, referring to the exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
On May 31, Biden laid out what he called a “three-phase” Israeli proposal that would include negotiations for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza as well as phased exchanges of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
Egypt and Qatar — which along with the United States have been mediating between Hamas and Israel — said on June 11 that they had received a response from the Palestinian groups to the US plan, without giving further details.
While Israel said Hamas rejected key elements of the US plan, a senior Hamas leader said that the changes the group requested were “not significant”.


Red Sea crisis intensifies economic strain on Yemenis ahead of Eid

Red Sea crisis intensifies economic strain on Yemenis ahead of Eid
Updated 16 June 2024
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Red Sea crisis intensifies economic strain on Yemenis ahead of Eid

Red Sea crisis intensifies economic strain on Yemenis ahead of Eid
  • Sales have decreased by 80 percent
  • Over 1.2 million civil servants have not received salaries in eight years, and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs

DUBAI: Yemen, suffering from nearly a decade of civil war, now faces an additional challenge: a crippled economy further strained by the escalating crisis in the Red Sea.

Market vendors in Sanaa’s Old City, the Al-Melh, claim that sales have decreased by 80 percent, according to a report by Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Shopkeepers attribute this decline to recent increases in sea shipping costs, which have driven up wholesale prices.

This situation reflects the broader economic crisis in Yemen, where rising sea shipping costs have increased prices across the board, making basic Eid essentials unaffordable for many. 

To help ease financial strain, an exhibition was organized in Al-Sabeen Park, where families were able to sell homemade goods. 

Despite these efforts, Yemen’s economic problems persist. According to the UN, the decade-long war has pushed millions into poverty. Over 1.2 million civil servants have not received salaries in eight years, and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. The Norwegian Refugee Council reports that four out of five Yemenis face poverty, and over 18 million people urgently need humanitarian aid.


Water crisis batters war-torn Sudan as temperatures soar

Water crisis batters war-torn Sudan as temperatures soar
Updated 16 June 2024
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Water crisis batters war-torn Sudan as temperatures soar

Water crisis batters war-torn Sudan as temperatures soar
  • The country at large, despite its many water sources including the mighty Nile River, is no stranger to water scarcity
  • This summer, the mercury is expected to continue rising until the rainy season hits in August

PORT SUDAN, Sudan: War, climate change and man-made shortages have brought Sudan — a nation already facing a litany of horrors — to the shores of a water crisis.
“Since the war began, two of my children have walked 14 kilometers (nine miles) every day to get water for the family,” Issa, a father of seven, said from North Darfur state.
In the blistering sun, as temperatures climb past 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), Issa’s family — along with 65,000 other residents of the Sortoni displacement camp — suffer the weight of the war between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
When the first shots rang out more than a year ago, most foreign aid groups — including the one operating Sortoni’s local water station — could no longer operate. Residents were left to fend for themselves.
The country at large, despite its many water sources including the mighty Nile River, is no stranger to water scarcity.
Even before the war, a quarter of the population had to walk more than 50 minutes to fetch water, according to the United Nations.
Now, from the western deserts of Darfur, through the fertile Nile Valley and all the way to the Red Sea coast, a water crisis has hit 48 million war-weary Sudanese who the US ambassador to the United Nations on Friday said are already facing “the largest humanitarian crisis on the face of the planet.”
Around 110 kilometers east of Sortoni, deadly clashes in North Darfur’s capital of El-Fasher, besieged by RSF, threaten water access for more than 800,000 civilians.
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Friday said fighting in El-Fasher had killed at least 226.
Just outside the city, fighting over the Golo water reservoir “risks cutting off safe and adequate water for about 270,000 people,” the UN children’s agency UNICEF has warned.
Access to water and other scarce resources has long been a source of conflict in Sudan.
The UN Security Council on Thursday demanded that the siege of El-Fasher end.
If it goes on, hundreds of thousands more people who rely on the area’s groundwater will go without.
“The water is there, but it’s more than 60 meters (66 yards) deep, deeper than a hand-pump can go,” according to a European diplomat with years of experience in Sudan’s water sector.
“If the RSF doesn’t allow fuel to go in, the water stations will stop working,” he said, requesting anonymity because the diplomat was not authorized to speak to media.
“For a large part of the population, there will simply be no water.”
Already in the nearby village of Shaqra, where 40,000 people have sought shelter, “people stand in lines 300 meters long to get drinking water,” said Adam Rijal, spokesperson for the civilian-led General Coordination for Displaced Persons and Refugees in Darfur.
In photos he sent to AFP, some women and children can be seen huddled under the shade of lonely acacia trees, while most swelter in the blazing sun, waiting their turn.
Sudan is hard-hit by climate change, and “you see it most clearly in the increase in temperature and rainfall intensity,” the diplomat said.
This summer, the mercury is expected to continue rising until the rainy season hits in August, bringing with it torrential floods that kill dozens every year.
The capital Khartoum sits at the legendary meeting point of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers — yet its people are parched.
The Soba water station, which supplies water to much of the capital, “has been out of service since the war began,” said a volunteer from the local resistance committee, one of hundreds of grassroots groups coordinating wartime aid.
People have since been buying untreated “water off of animal-drawn carts, which they can hardly afford and exposes them to diseases,” he said, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Entire neighborhoods of Khartoum North “have gone without drinking water for a year,” another local volunteer said, requesting to be identified only by his first name, Salah.
“People wanted to stay in their homes, even through the fighting, but they couldn’t last without water,” Salah said.
Hundreds of thousands have fled the fighting eastward, many to the de facto capital of Port Sudan on the Red Sea — itself facing a “huge water issue” that will only get “worse in the summer months,” resident Al-Sadek Hussein worries.
The city depends on only one inadequate reservoir for its water supply.
Here, too, citizens rely on horse- and donkey-drawn carts to deliver water, using “tools that need to be monitored and controlled to prevent contamination,” public health expert Taha Taher said.
“But with all the displacement, of course this doesn’t happen,” he said.
Between April 2023 and March 2024, the health ministry recorded nearly 11,000 cases of cholera — a disease endemic to Sudan, “but not like this” when it has become “year-round,” the European diplomat said.
The outbreak comes with the majority of Sudan’s hospitals shut down and the United States warning on Friday that a famine of historic global proportions could unfold without urgent action.
“Health care has collapsed, people are drinking dirty water, they are hungry and will get hungrier, which will kill many, many more,” the diplomat said.


UAE, Iran discuss bilateral relations

UAE, Iran discuss bilateral relations
Updated 16 June 2024
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UAE, Iran discuss bilateral relations

UAE, Iran discuss bilateral relations

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirats Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, had a phone conversation on Saturday with Iran's acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani, to discuss the bilateral relations between the two countries.

During the call, they exchanged Eid Al-Adha greetings and explored ways to enhance cooperation that would serve the mutual interests of their countries and peoples, contributing to regional security and stability.

They also reviewed several issues of common interest, as well as recent developments in both regional and international arenas.