EU should recognize Palestinian state: Spanish PM

EU should recognize Palestinian state: Spanish PM
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier said he stood by his comments in support for Gaza, even when it angered Israel. (X: @sanchezcastejon)
Short Url
Updated 30 November 2023
Follow

EU should recognize Palestinian state: Spanish PM

EU should recognize Palestinian state: Spanish PM
  • When he was sworn in for a new term, Sanchez said his foreign policy priority would be to “work in Europe and in Spain to recognize the Palestinian state”

MADRID: The European Union should recognize a Palestinian state since this would help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and “stabilize” the region, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.
“It is obvious that we must find a political solution to put an end to this crisis and this solution requires, in my opinion, the recognition of the Palestinian state,” the Socialist premier said during an interview with Spanish public television TVE.
“It is in Europe’s interest to address this issue out of moral conviction because what we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable,” and also for “a geopolitical objective — to stabilize a region,” he added.
When he was sworn in for a new term this month, Sanchez said his foreign policy priority would be to “work in Europe and in Spain to recognize the Palestinian state.”
If there is no consensus among the EU’s 27 member states, Sanchez has said Madrid does not rule out unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state.
A handful of smaller European countries have taken the step, mainly east European nations like Hungary, Poland and Romania that did so before they joined the EU.
But until now no large member of the bloc has made the move, which would make Spain a pioneer.
Spain’s parliament voted in 2014 in favor of a resolution calling for recognition of Palestine as a state.
The vote was non-binding, however, and there has been no follow up.
“The situation has changed,” Sanchez told TVE, adding that Arab nations did not understand the EU’s position.
“During all these years, we have seen how Israel systematically occupied Palestinian territory,” he added in a reference to Israeli settlement- building.
According to Amnesty International: “Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory and displacing the local population contravenes fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”
Palestinians say the settlements jeopardize their goal of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Israel last week summoned Spain’s ambassador over criticisms Sanchez made of the Israeli offensive on Gaza during a visit to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Friday.
Israel accused Madrid of supporting “terrorism.”
“Friendly nations must tell the truth,” Sanchez said before recalling he had unequivocally condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians and soldiers.
“But we must tell Israel with the same conviction” that it must respect international law, he added.


Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser
Updated 2 min 15 sec ago
Follow

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser
  • He had earlier said there is no doubt that the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Nalvany "was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did”
  • Biden tends to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has dug into China, the Republican Party, and Israel for its war on Gaza

SAN FRANCISCO: President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” during a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, warning there is always the threat of nuclear conflict but that the existential threat to humanity remains climate.

“This is the last existential threat. It is climate. We have a crazy SOB like that guy Putin and others and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate,” Biden told a small group of donors.
Biden has previously cursed “son of a bitch” at others. In January 2022, he was caught on the hot mic using the same term of abuse against a Fox News White House reporter.
Biden tends to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has dug into the Chinese government, the Republican Party, and US ally Israel for its bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Biden’s verbal attacks against Putin have also sharply intensified at the White House and on the campaign trail. Last week, the US President blamed Putin and “his thugs” for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Nalvany was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” Biden said at the White House after Russian prison officials announced that Navalny had died.
The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said Western claims that Putin was responsible are unacceptable.
Biden and Putin remain deeply at odds over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, over which Russia has been sanctioned by the United States and other Western nations. Biden’s reactions have put a further chill into already bitter US-Russian relations.
On Tuesday, Biden said the US will announce a major package of sanctions against Russia over Navalny’s death and the Ukraine war.
Biden’s expected Republican opponent in November, former President Donald Trump, has expressed admiration for Putin both during his 2017-2021 White House tenure and afterward. However, he also recently compared himself to Navalny, implying that they both had faced politically motivated prosecutions.
“I don’t know where the hell this comes from,” Biden said on Wednesday reacting to Trump comparing himself to Navalny.


US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies
Updated 48 min 3 sec ago
Follow

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that she believed frozen embryos created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) were babies, endorsing a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.
That state’s high court said that frozen embryos in test tubes should be considered children, rattling doctors and patients in reproductive medicine as well as raising legal questions, US media reported after Friday’s decision.
Haley, in an interview with NBC News, sided with the Alabama court.
“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley said. “When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”
The former South Carolina governor said she had her son after using artificial insemination, a different procedure which does not involve embryos in a lab.
Haley is the last major 2024 Republican presidential challenger to frontrunner Donald Trump. The two will face off a third time on Saturday in her home state of South Carolina, with Haley again trailing in opinion polls but refusing to drop out.
Trump has not publicly mentioned the Alabama ruling. A representative for his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling was greeted by widespread shock in Alabama, which has one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, according to news reports, with patients confused about whether to proceed with IVF and others wondering whether to move their embryos.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham paused in-vitro fertilization after the state supreme court ruling, due to fear of prosecution and lawsuits, a hospital representative said.
“This is exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.
The Alabama ruling was the latest involving reproductive services after the US Supreme Court in 2022 overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion.
Republican candidates this election cycle largely steered clear of the abortion issue. The party’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections was seen as voter backlash against the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Haley, the only Republican woman in the 2024 race, has urged Republicans to focus on finding consensus, rather than faulting those who favor abortion rights.
Trump has taken credit for appointing three right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, securing the majority needed to overturn Roe in the first place. But he has also avoided saying whether he would sign a national ban into law.


Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town
  • The capture of Avdiivka, after months of little change in the front lines, indicated a change of momentum as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion nears

NEAR AVDIIVKA, Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers dug in around new positions outside of Avdiivka say Russian forces who captured the eastern Ukrainian town last week are pressing on toward nearby towns and villages.
“It doesn’t end with them taking Avdiivka. They continue assaulting (our positions),” said Andriy, a Ukrainian drone pilot of the 47th Mechanized Brigade, sitting quietly in a darkened area.
“After Avdiivka, the villages nearby are next. And then, Myrnohrad and Pokrovsk, the nearest larger towns.”
Russian forces secured Avdiivka after months of bombardment reduced the town to rubble. It was Russia’s biggest battlefield victory since its forces captured Bakhmut in May 2023.
The capture of Avdiivka, after months of little change in the front lines, indicated a change of momentum as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion nears. President Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will push further into Ukraine.
Russian forces, Andriy said, have “a lot of manpower. There is lots of shelling. And KABs (guided aerial bombs) still bomb us as they used to. Well, perhaps there is a little less, but still a lot.”
A member of the unit launches an FPV (First Point View) drone from a wooded area and, wearing goggles, controls its trajectory on a monitor.
The whine of the drone eventually turns into a slight thud, indicating that an explosion has occurred. The drone flies headlong into a dugout.
Andriy and his fellow unit member, identifying himself as Huk, follow the progress of drones.
Footage shows the vast coke and chemical plant on the edge of Avdiivka, once one of Europe’s largest, and the area around it. Two blurred figures, Russian soldiers, are seen walking through an open area.
Maksym Zhorin, Deputy Commander of Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday: “The situation on the Avdiivka front is quite clear. The Russians will advance as far as their strength allows, depending on who among them survives.”
Andriy and Huk harbor no illusions of what lies ahead.
“It seems like things are calmer, but they are continuing their attempts to capture Lastochkyne. They are moving toward it,” Huk says, referring to a village to the northwest.
“I think they are now taking a small break to gather their forces so as to continue attacking us.”
Neither is demoralized by the decision to move out of the town, once home to 32,000 people. But some relief would be welcome.
“What will happen further? I don’t know. I just live day by day, or at least I try to,” Andriy said.
“We will keep working. That it our duty. And first of all, we are waiting to be replaced. We would like at least part of our ranks to rotate out. We don’t just want our ranks to be replenished.”


Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting
  • “Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira says

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil criticized the “paralysis” of the UN Security Council on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as it opened a G20 meeting Wednesday where the international community’s deep divisions were on display.
The outlook is bleak for progress on the thorny agenda of conflicts and crises gripping the planet as foreign ministers from the world’s biggest economies gather in Rio de Janeiro for the Group of 20’s first high-level meeting of the year.
Opening the two-day meeting, which featured US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Brazil’s top diplomat, Mauro Vieira, said the explosion of global conflicts shows international institutions like the United Nations are not working.
“Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira said, adding the situation was costing “innocent lives.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for his part warned multilateralism “is in crisis.”
The Security Council has failed to act on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, held in check by Russian veto power, and has struggled to find a response to the war in Gaza, with Israel’s ally the United States using its veto to block calls for a ceasefire, most recently Tuesday.
Brazil, which took over the rotating G20 presidency from India in December, has voiced hopes the group could be a forum to make progress on such questions.
But that likely took a hit when Lula ignited a diplomatic firestorm Sunday by accusing Israel of “genocide,” comparing its military campaign in the Gaza Strip to the Holocaust.
The comments drew outrage in Israel, which declared him persona non grata, and could overshadow any bid to de-escalate the conflict via the G20.
Blinken, who met Lula Wednesday in Brasilia before heading to the G20, “made clear we disagree with (his) comments,” a senior State Department official told journalists.
The secretary of state and Brazilian leader had a “frank exchange” in their more than 90-minute meeting at the presidential palace, the official said.
More than four months after the Gaza war started with Hamas fighters’ unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which has vowed to wipe out the Islamist group in retaliation, there is little sign of progress toward peace.
The outlook is similarly grim on Russia’s war in Ukraine, which also has G20 members divided as the second anniversary of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion approaches.
Despite a push by Western countries to condemn the invasion, the G20’s last summit ended with a watered-down statement denouncing the use of force but not explicitly naming Russia, which maintains friendly ties with India and Brazil, among other members.
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he planned to use the Rio meeting to “call out Russia’s aggression” directly to Lavrov, as Britain announced sanctions on six Russian officials over opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in prison last week.
Lavrov — who will meet Lula in Brasilia Thursday, according to a Brazilian official — meanwhile lashed out at the West for “pumping Ukraine full of arms.”
“Neither Kiev nor the West have shown the political will to resolve the conflict,” he told Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
Blinken voiced pessimism on the current chances for diplomacy on Ukraine in his meeting with Lula. “We don’t see the conditions for it right now,” a US official said.
Brazil also wants to use its G20 presidency to push the fights against poverty and climate change.
There will also be space for bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the gathering — though a Blinken-Lavrov encounter looks unlikely, given soaring tensions.
The pair last met in person at a G20 gathering in India in March 2023.
Founded in 1999, the G20 brings together most of the world’s biggest economies.
Originally an economic forum, it has grown increasingly involved in international politics.
A Brazilian government source said that after recent G20 struggles for consensus, the hosts axed the requirement that every meeting produce a joint statement — with the exception of the annual leaders’ summit, scheduled for November in Rio.


In life or death, Navalny will influence history: exiled lawyer

In life or death, Navalny will influence history: exiled lawyer
Updated 22 February 2024
Follow

In life or death, Navalny will influence history: exiled lawyer

In life or death, Navalny will influence history: exiled lawyer
  • Olga Mikhailova says Navalny had been tortured in prison for the past three years but was not broken
  • One of Navalny's most high-profile lawyers for 16 years, Mikhailova is now a target of a criminal probe herself
  • She left Russia last October and is applying for asylum in France. Three of her lawyer partners are in jail

PARIS: Alexei Navalny’s top lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said on Wednesday that in life or in death he would “influence history” as she paid an emotional tribute to the late Russian opposition leader.

Mikhailova, who is arguably the most high-profile member of Navalny’s defense team, had defended the opposition politician for 16 years.
She was often pictured by his side as President Vladimir Putin’s top critic sought to clear his name in a years-long legal tug-of-war with the Kremlin.
Now a target of a criminal probe herself, Mikhailova left Russia in October last year and is applying for asylum in France.

Olga Mikhailova, one of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s main lawyers, speaks during a conference by the Russian opposition in Paris on Feb. 21, 2024. (AFP)

“Alexei Navalny is an amazing, courageous, charismatic politician,” Mikhailova, who looked visibly upset, said at a Russian opposition event in Paris.
“The authorities claim that he is dead. Even if that is so and he was killed, I am sure that he will not only go down in history but will also influence the future course of history,” Mikhailova told several dozen people, her voice sometimes breaking.
She did not take questions and declined to speak to journalists.
Russian authorities said on Friday that Navalny, 47, suddenly died in his Arctic prison. The announcement plunged his supporters around the world into a state of shock.
Speaking at the event organized by the Russie-Libertés association, Mikhailova sometimes spoke of Navalny using the present tense.
“He’s not like regular people. He is an iron man,” she said.
Navalny barely survived a poisoning with the Soviet-designed nerve agent, Novichok, in 2020. Following treatment in Germany, he returned to Russia in 2021 and was immediately arrested and subsequently jailed.
Mikhailova, 50, said she warned the opposition politician against coming back to Russia.
“In Berlin, I told him, ‘You’ll be jailed for 10 years,” Mikhailova said.
“And he replied with a smile: ‘You always say I’ll be jailed. Well, you’ll be defending me then.”

Tortured and starved
Upon return, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Last year a Russian court sentenced him to 19 years behind bars on extremism charges.
Mikhailova said he had been tortured in prison for the past three years but was not broken.

Raindrops cover Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's portrait placed between flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 21, 2024. (AP)

“They abused and starved him,” she said.
“He spent about 300 days in a cold punishment cell where he could either stand or sit on a metal stool during the day,” Mikhailova said.
“Three times a day a mug of hot water was brought to him and it was the only hot meal he had.”
Last fall, the Russian authorities cracked down on Navalny’s defense team.
In October, three lawyers defending Navalny were detained and charged with taking part in an “extremist organization.”
Russian authorities have accused Navalny’s defense team of spreading his anti-Kremlin message from prison by posting his letters on social media.
The announcement of Navalny’s death came as Putin is gearing up to extend his two-decade hold on power in a presidential election in March.
Mikhailova, who says she was on holiday abroad when the three members of the defense team were arrested, decided against returning to Russia where she knew she too would be jailed.
Writing on Facebook in January, she said life abroad was difficult for her daughter and her. “We have no home and a lot of problems,” she added.
In mid-February, a Moscow court ordered Mikhailova’s arrest in absentia.