G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend a video conference with G7 leaders, on the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2024. (REUTERS)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend a video conference with G7 leaders, on the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 25 February 2024
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G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine

G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine
  • Finally, the G7 leaders demanded that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

ROME: The G7 countries pledged support for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia after a virtual meeting Saturday on the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.
In a statement after the meeting, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended, the leaders vowed to “raise the cost” of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The G7 leaders didn’t make any public statement about further military aid to Ukraine, but urged “the approval of additional support to close Ukraine’s remaining budget gap for 2024.”
“We will continue to raise the cost of Russia’s war, degrade Russia’s sources of revenue and impede its efforts to build its war machine,” said the group, which includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.
They called on Iran to stop helping Russia’s military and expressed concern about the transfer by Chinese businesses of weapon components, military equipment and dual-use materials to Moscow.
Finally, the G7 leaders demanded that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in an Arctic prison last week.
After a week-long stand-off, his body was finally handed over to his mother on Saturday, according to his team.
Zelensky used the meeting to plead for more support for his embattled military forces.
“You know very well all we need to keep our sky protected, to strengthen our military on the land, and you know all we need to sustain and continue our success in the sea,” he said.
“And you know perfectly well that we need all this in time, and we count on you.”
The meeting was hosted from Kyiv by Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, which holds the rotating G7 presidency.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen were also in Kyiv Saturday for the anniversary and attended the session in person.
It was the first meeting of the G7 under the Italian presidency.
Meloni flew to Poland, which borders Ukraine, and then took the train to Kyiv.
She explained her reasons for going to Kyiv in an interview with Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper published Saturday.
“Italy, Europe and the West must continue to back Kyiv because defending Ukraine means... keeping war at bay, protecting our national interests and preventing the international order based on rules from breaking down,” she said.
“We believe in Ukraine’s European future,” she said, referring to Kyiv’s frantic efforts to join the European Union.
 


University of California academic workers strike to stand up for pro-Palestinian protesters

University of California academic workers strike to stand up for pro-Palestinian protesters
Updated 6 sec ago
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University of California academic workers strike to stand up for pro-Palestinian protesters

University of California academic workers strike to stand up for pro-Palestinian protesters
  • Israel has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry

SAN FRANCISCO: Graduate students at the University of California, Santa Cruz walked off their jobs and went on strike Monday, the first campus to do so as part of a systemwide protest against a public university they say has violated the speech rights of pro-Palestinian advocates.
United Auto Workers Local 4811 represents 48,000 graduate students who work as teaching assistants, tutors, researchers and other academic employees on the 10-campus UC system. Organizers said the campuses will not strike all at once, opting instead for rolling strikes, to protest the arrests and forcible ejection by police of union members who participated in demonstrations calling for an end to the war in Gaza.
Rebecca Gross, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student in literature and union leader, said at least 1,500 people were on strike Monday and had no plans to return to work until the union reaches a deal with the university. Students and researchers are not teaching, grading or working in their labs, and they are withholding data, she said.
“Police were unleashed and given the go-ahead to arrest protesters,” at the Los Angeles, San Diego and Irvine campuses, she said.
University officials say the strike is unlawful and in violation of the union’s contract, which prohibits work stoppages. Both sides have filed unfair labor practice complaints with the California Public Employment Relations Board.
The union is demanding amnesty for all academic employees, students and faculty who face disciplinary action or arrest due to the protests. It’s also seeking divestment from UC’s investments in weapons makers, contractors and companies aiding Israel in its war against Hamas, among other issues.
Tobias Higbie, a labor historian and director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA, said it is not unusual for unions to flex their muscle over broad workplace issues that are not narrowly tied to wages and benefits.
“They’re not everyday events, and maybe not even every year events,” he said. “But they’re not unheard of.”
The union’s action may be surprising to some, but so was what happened at UCLA earlier this month, Higbie said. On May 1, police in riot gear ordered the dispersal of more than a thousand people gathered on campus to support Palestine, and warned that those who refused to leave would face arrest.
The night before, police had waited to intervene as counter-protesters attacked the pro-Palestinian encampment, causing injuries. California Gov. Gavin Newsom denounced the delay.
Scott Hernandez-Jason, an assistant vice chancellor with UC Santa Cruz, said afternoon classes are being conducted remotely Monday.
“Our primary goal is to minimize the disruptive impact, especially given the many educational and research challenges that have affected students and researchers in recent years,” he said in an email. “Academic and operational continuity is essential to the University of California’s education and research mission and a core responsibility to our students.”

 


Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement

Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement
Updated 13 min 25 sec ago
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Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement

Yale graduates stage pro-Palestinian walkout of commencement
  • Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, denied that his nation was trying to mislead the world. Backed by China and others, he called the vote “a unique moment of truth for our Western colleagues”

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut: Scores of graduating students staged a walkout from Yale University’s commencement exercises on Monday, protesting the Israeli war in Gaza, Yale’s financial ties to weapons makers and its response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the Ivy League campus.
The walkout began as Yale President Peter Salovey started to announce the traditional college-by-college presentation of candidates for degrees on the grounds of Yale’s Old Campus, filled with thousands of graduates in their caps and gowns.
At least 150 students seated near the front of the audience stood up together, turned their backs to the stage and paraded out of the ceremony through Phelps Gate, retracing their steps during the processional into the yard.
Many of the protesters carried small banners with such slogans as “Books not bombs” and “Divest from war.” Some wore red-colored latex gloves symbolizing bloodied hands.
Other signs read: “Drop the charges” and “Protect free speech” in reference to 45 people arrested in a police crackdown last month on demonstrations in and around the New Haven, Connecticut, campus.
The walkout drew a chorus of cheers from fellow students in the crowd, but the protest was otherwise peaceful, without disruption. No mention of it was made from the stage.
Yale is one of dozens of US campuses roiled by protests over the mounting Palestinian humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip following the bloody Oct. 7 cross-border attack on Jewish settlements by Hamas militants.
The University of Southern California canceled its main graduation ceremony altogether, and dozens of students walked out of Duke University’s commencement last week to protest its guest speaker, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who has supported Israel throughout the war in Gaza.

ACADEMIC WORKERS STRIKE UC SANTA CRUZ
Fallout from a violent attack weeks ago on pro-Palestinian activists encamped at the University of California, Los Angeles, reverberated on the UC Santa Cruz campus on Monday as academic workers there staged a protest strike organized by their union.
Much of the student activism has been aimed at academic institutions’ financial ties with Israel and US military programs benefiting the Jewish state.
Protests in sympathy with Palestinians have in turn been branded by pro-Israel supporters as antisemitic, testing the boundaries between freedom of expression and hate speech. Many schools have called in police to quell the demonstrations.
At UC Santa Cruz on Monday, hundreds of unionized academic researchers, graduate teaching assistants and post-doctoral scholars went on strike to protest what they said were the university’s unfair labor practices in its handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
The strikers are members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811, which represents some 2,000 grad students and other academic workers at UC Santa Cruz, and about 48,000 total across all 10 University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Last week, the UAW 4811 rank-and-file voted to authorize union leaders to organize a series of “standup” strikes through the end of June on individual or groups of UC campuses rather than across the entire university.
The Santa Cruz strike marked the first union-backed protest in solidarity with the recent wave of pro-Palestinian student activists, whose numbers, according to the UAW, include graduate students arrested at several University of California campuses.
Union leaders said a major impetus for the strike was the arrest of 210 people at the scene of a pro-Palestinian protest camp torn down by police at UCLA on May 2.
The night before, a group of pro-Israel supporters physically attacked the encampment and its occupiers in a melee that went on for at least three hours before police moved in to quell the disturbance. The university has since opened an investigation of the incident.
The strikers also are demanding amnesty for grad students who were arrested or face discipline for their involvement in the protests.
UC Santa Cruz issued a statement saying campus entrances were briefly blocked in the morning by demonstrators, prompting the school to switch to remote instruction for the day.
The University of California has filed its own unfair labor practice complaint with the state Public Employee Relations Board asking the state to order a halt to the strike.

 


Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel ignore call to disband as arrests nationwide surpass 3,000

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel ignore call to disband as arrests nationwide surpass 3,000
Updated 21 May 2024
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Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel ignore call to disband as arrests nationwide surpass 3,000

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel ignore call to disband as arrests nationwide surpass 3,000
  • Israel has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry
  • Students and others have set up tent encampments on campuses around the country to press colleges to cut financial ties with Israel

PHILADELPHIA: Pro-Palestinian protesters ignored a request by Drexel University’s president to disband their encampment on Monday as arrests linked to campus demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war surpassed the 3,000 mark nationwide.
Drexel’s campus remained on lockdown, with classes being held virtually as police kept watch over the demonstration on the school’s Korman Quad. Many Drexel employees were told to work from home.
In a statement issued a day earlier, Drexel President John Fry said as many as 60 protesters were at the encampment, lambasting it as “intolerably disruptive to normal university operations.” He said there were “serious concerns about the conduct of some participants, including distressing reports and images of protesters subjecting passersby to antisemitic speech, signs and chants.” Fry threatened disciplinary action against Drexel students participating in the protest.
The Drexel Palestine Coalition responded on Instagram late Sunday that “it is slander to accuse the encampment of ‘hateful’ or ‘intimidating’ actions when we have done neither.” The group accused Drexel and city police of harassment and intimidation. A pro-Palestinian group of faculty and staff blasted Fry on Monday for shuttering campus facilities and said the encampment was “not disruptive to learning.”
The Drexel protesters’ demands ranged from the university administration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and divesting from companies that do business with Israel, to abolition of the Drexel police department and termination of the school’s chapter of Hillel, the Jewish campus organization.
No arrests were reported.
Students and others have set up tent encampments on campuses around the country to press colleges to cut financial ties with Israel. Tensions over the war have been high on campuses since the fall but demonstrations spread quickly following an April 18 police crackdown on an encampment at Columbia University.
More than 3,000 people have been arrested on US campuses over the past month. Campuses have been calmer recently, with fewer arrests, as students leave for summer break. Still, colleges have been vigilant for disruptions to commencement ceremonies.
At the University of California, Santa Cruz, graduate students went on strike Monday as part of a rolling, systemwide protest over how administrators have responded to pro-Palestinian encampments, including arrests of protesters at the Los Angeles, San Diego and Irvine campuses.
The encampment at Drexel, which has about 22,000 students, was set up after several hundred demonstrators marched from Philadelphia’s City Hall to west Philadelphia on Saturday. Nearby, on the University of Pennsylvania campus, university and city police arrested 19 demonstrators Friday night, including six Penn students.
On Monday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner declined to charge four of the Penn protesters, citing a lack of evidence submitted by campus police. Krasner’s office approved misdemeanor charges against three others. The remaining 12 arrested Friday night were given citations for failing to disperse.
Penn’s main commencement ceremony, meanwhile, was held under tightened security and a ban on flags and signs. There were no disruptions.
But dozens of students walked out of Yale University’s commencement ceremony Monday, some waving Palestinian flags. Yale said in a prepared statement that “a number of graduating students chose to peacefully walk out during the ceremony. University staff helped guide these individuals to an area outside the event space, and the ceremony continued as scheduled.”
Wesleyan University in Connecticut said it has reached agreement with student protesters to review possible divestment, with meetings scheduled for later this month and in the fall. Wesleyan President Michael Roth announced the deal over the weekend and disclosed that 1.7 percent of Wesleyan’s endowment was invested in aerospace and defense businesses, but that none were directly involved in the manufacture of weapons.
As part of the agreement, Wesleyan protesters cleared their encampment on Monday, according to a school spokesperson.
The Associated Press has recorded at least 82 incidents since April 18 where arrests were made at campus protests across the US At least 3,025 people have been arrested on the campuses of 61 colleges and universities. The figures are based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.
The latest Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking an additional 250 hostage. Palestinian militants still hold about 100 captives, while Israel’s military has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants.

 


What is the ICC and why it is considering arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders

What is the ICC and why it is considering arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders
Updated 21 May 2024
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What is the ICC and why it is considering arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders

What is the ICC and why it is considering arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders
  • Israel has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The International Criminal Court could soon issue arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, more than seven months into the war between the two sides, based on a request by the court’s chief prosecutor.
Karim Khan said that he believes Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders — Yehia Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh — are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel.
The ICC was established in 2002 as the permanent court of last resort to prosecute individuals responsible for the world’s most heinous atrocities — war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression.
The Rome Statute creating the ICC was adopted in 1998 and took effect when it got 60 ratifications on July 1, 2002. The UN General Assembly endorsed the ICC, but the court is independent.
Without a police force, the ICC relies on member states to arrest suspects, which has proven to be a major obstacle to prosecutions.
Netanyahu said last month that Israel “will never accept any attempt by the ICC to undermine its inherent right of self-defense.” He said that while the ICC won’t affect Israel’s actions, it would “set a dangerous precedent.”
WHAT IS THE ICC?
The ICC’s 124 member states have signed on to the Rome Statute. Dozens of countries didn’t sign and don’t accept the court’s jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide and other crimes. They include Israel, the United States, Russia and China.
The ICC becomes involved when nations are unable or unwilling to prosecute crimes on their territory. Israel argues that it has a functioning court system, and disputes over a nation’s ability or willingness to prosecute have fueled past disputes between the court and individual countries.
In 2020, then US President Donald Trump authorized economic and travel sanctions on the ICC prosecutor and another senior prosecution office staffer. The ICC staff were looking into US and allies’ troops and intelligence officials for possible war crimes in Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden, whose administration has provided crucial military and political support for the Gaza offensive, lifted the sanctions in 2021.
The ICC has 17 ongoing investigations, issued a total of 42 arrest warrants and taken 21 suspects into custody. Its judges have convicted 10 suspects and acquitted four.
In its early years, the court was criticized for focusing on crimes in Africa, but now it has investigations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
WHAT IS THE ICC’S RELATIONSHIP TO ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES?
The UN General Assembly raised the Palestinians’ status in 2012 from a UN observer to a nonmember observer state. That opened the door for the Palestinian territories to join international organizations, including the ICC.
The ICC accepted “The State of Palestine” as a member in 2015, a year after the Palestinians accepted the court’s jurisdiction.
The court’s chief prosecutor at the time announced in 2021 that she was opening an investigation into possible crimes on Palestinian territory. Israel often levies accusations of bias at UN and international bodies, and Netanyahu condemned the decision as hypocritical and antisemitic.
Khan, the current ICC prosecutor, visited Ramallah and Israel in December, meeting Palestinian officials and families of Israelis killed or taken hostage by Hamas militants in the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the Israel-Hamas war.
Khan called Hamas’ actions “some of the most serious international crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, crimes which the ICC was established to address,” and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
Khan said “international humanitarian law must still apply” in the Israel-Hamas war and “the Israeli military knows the law that must be applied.” After the visit, Khan said that an ICC investigation into possible crimes by Hamas militants and Israeli forces “is a priority for my office.”
WHO ELSE HAS THE ICC CHARGED?
Last year, the court issued a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine. Russia responded by issuing its own arrest warrants for Khan and ICC judges.
Other high-profile leaders charged by the court include ousted Sudanese strongman Omar Al-Bashir on allegations including genocide in his country’s Darfur region. Former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebels shortly after the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest on charges linked to the brutal suppression of anti-government protests in 2011.
 

 


Biden: What’s happening in Gaza is not genocide

Biden: What’s happening in Gaza is not genocide
Updated 21 May 2024
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Biden: What’s happening in Gaza is not genocide

Biden: What’s happening in Gaza is not genocide

Washington: US President Joe Biden denied Monday that Israel’s war in Gaza was genocide, as he slammed an “outrageous” request by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor for an arrest warrant for Israeli leaders.
“What’s happening is not genocide,” Biden told a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House as he discussed the conflict sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.
His remarks referred specifically to a case at a different tribunal, the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is dealing with allegations by South Africa that Israel’s war in Gaza is genocidal.
But he also amped up his criticism of the ICC, a separate war crimes court, saying that “we reject” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan’s bid to arrest Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and its defense minister.
Khan also sought the arrest of top Hamas figures including the Palestinian militant group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and political chief Ismail Haniyeh.
“Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” Biden told the audience in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Biden pledged “ironclad” support for Israel, adding that “we stand with Israel to take out Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas.”
The US president further vowed to free hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack “come hell or high water.”
Hours earlier, he had issued a written statement saying that the ICC warrants were “outrageous.”

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Biden’s expression of support comes despite recent tensions over Israel’s war in Gaza. Washington recently withheld a shipment of bombs to Israel in a bid to warn it off an offensive in the southern city of Rafah.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned separately that the ICC prosecutor’s move “could jeopardize” ceasefire talks to end the Gaza conflict.
“We reject the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas. It is shameful,” Blinken said in a statement.
US lawmakers were reportedly considering a legislative response punishing the ICC amid bipartisan fury among Republicans and Democrats.
Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson slammed the court’s “baseless and illegitimate” decision.
He accused Biden of a “pressure campaign” against Israel, saying the country was “fighting a just war for survival.”
Biden faces political pressure on both sides ahead of a November election clash with Donald Trump, with pro-Gaza student protests roiling US campuses while Republicans accuse him of failing to fully back Israel.
The White House refused to comment on whether the United States could take retaliatory action, including sanctions, against the ICC if it targeted Israel.
In 2020, the administration of then-president Donald Trump targeted the ICC with sanctions over its investigation in Afghanistan, but the Biden administration later lifted them.
However Washington’s ambiguous position over the court is reflected in the fact that it has backed the ICC’s attempt to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that the United States “will continue” to assist the ICC in its investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine, despite denouncing the Israel move.