Arab League chief highlights need for Palestinian reconciliation in talks with Fatah delegation

Special Arab League chief highlights need for Palestinian reconciliation in talks with Fatah delegation
Ahmed Aboul Gheit receives the Mahmoud Al-Aloul-led Fatah delegation.. (X/@arableague_gs)
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Updated 28 March 2024
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Arab League chief highlights need for Palestinian reconciliation in talks with Fatah delegation

Arab League chief highlights need for Palestinian reconciliation in talks with Fatah delegation
  • Spotlight on importance of prioritizing ceasefire, facilitating aid to Gaza
  • Aboul Gheit emphasized the urgency of swiftly moving toward a political settlement that would pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state

CAIRO: Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has emphasized the importance of pursuing all possible avenues to achieve Palestinian reconciliation.

He spoke as he welcomed a high-level delegation from the Palestinian Fatah movement in Cairo.

The talks followed the delegation’s separate meeting with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Aboul Gheit also stressed the importance of prioritizing a ceasefire and facilitating the delivery of aid to Gaza.

He emphasized the urgency of swiftly moving toward a political settlement that would pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Aboul Gheit said that the Palestinian National Movement served as an overarching platform for all factions, adding that Fatah had played an undeniable role in the Palestinian struggle over the decades.

He reiterated that unity among Palestinian ranks was indispensable for realizing the vision of a Palestinian state.

The Fatah delegation included Mahmoud Al-Aloul, the movement’s vice president; Rawhi Fattouh, the president of the Palestinian National Council; and Azzam Al-Ahmad and Samir Al-Rifai, members of Fatah’s Central Committee.

Jamal Rushdi, a spokesperson for Aboul Gheit, said that the secretary-general had listened to a presentation by Fatah leaders on the latest developments in the region.

Discussions centered on the war against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and the violence faced by Palestinians by occupation forces and armed extremist settlers in the West Bank.

The Arab League’s chief stressed the role of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah in the struggle and spoke of the need to end the geographical and political division that had plagued Palestinians since 2007.

Aboul Gheit listened to the leaders and their strategies to bolster Palestinian resilience on their land, whether in the West Bank or Gaza.

He conveyed the Arab League’s unwavering support for the Palestinian Authority’s endeavors to harness global momentum in advocating for Palestinian rights.

He added that the Gaza catastrophe had revealed unimaginable brutality and a stark absence of humanity, which had elicited shock from conscientious people worldwide.

Aboul Gheit insisted that the world was now convinced of the inevitability of Palestinians achieving their right to self-determination and establishing an independent state.

This conviction contrasted sharply with previous notions that the Palestinian issue could be managed through “economic peace.”

Aboul Gheit spoke of the Arab League’s vision with the delegation, based on recent engagements with influential international actors close to recognizing the Palestinian state.

He stressed that the correct approach to negotiating a final settlement was to recognize statehood and attain permanent membership in the UN.


Houthi leader says 129 ships attacked during Red Sea campaign

Houthi leader says 129 ships attacked during Red Sea campaign
Updated 20 sec ago
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Houthi leader says 129 ships attacked during Red Sea campaign

Houthi leader says 129 ships attacked during Red Sea campaign
  • US Central Command says its forces destroyed new wave of drones and missiles fired by the militia

AL-MUKALLA: The leader of Yemen’s Houthi militia, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, said on Thursday that his forces had attacked 129 ships in international waters since the start of their campaign in November, claiming that his group has resisted political and economic pressure to cease targeting ships.

“There are no political, economic, or other factors that might influence our activities,” he said in a televised speech. 

The militia has launched 27 ballistic missiles and drones in 12 operations against 10 ships in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean during the last seven days, Al-Houthi said, who disputed previous media reports that the militia had reduced its maritime strikes.

“Our actions have not decreased, but there has been a decrease in navigation and ship movement on the American and British sides, as well as a near-complete absence of Israeli activity.”

The Houthi leader’s threat to continue attacking ships came as the US Central Command announced on Thursday morning (Yemen time) that its forces had destroyed a new wave of drones and missiles fired by the Houthis over the international seas off Yemen, as well as foiled Houthi missile launches by destroying launchers.

The US military said it destroyed two missile launchers in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen on Tuesday night.

On the same day, the Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles over the Red Sea from areas under their control, and neither the US-led coalition nor foreign commercial ships were targeted.

Two drones fired by the Houthis in Yemen over the Red Sea were intercepted by US forces before reaching their targets on Wednesday morning.

“It was determined these missiles and systems presented an imminent threat to US, coalition forces, and merchant vessels in the region. These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure,” the US military said in a statement. 

Hours before the US military statement, the Houthis claimed on Wednesday night to have shot down another US military MQ-9 Reaper drone over the central province of Marib, shortly after locals shared images and videos on social media of what appeared to be a downed Reaper drone in the province’s desert. 

The drone was engaged in a “hostile mission” above Marib when a “locally made” surface-to-air missile struck it on Wednesday morning, the Houthis said.

This is the sixth time the Yemeni militia has claimed to have shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone since the start of their Red Sea operation and the third in May.

The Houthis’ Red Sea activities resulted in the loss of one commercial ship, the capture of another, and the targeting of scores more ships in international maritime channels and pushed shipping companies to forgo the Suez Canal via the Red Sea in favor of longer and more costly routes across Africa.

Meanwhile, the Aden-based central bank sanctioned six Yemeni banks on Thursday for failing to follow an earlier directive to relocate their activities from Houthi-controlled Sanaa to government-controlled Aden.

The central bank ordered Yemeni banks and other financial institutions to stop doing business with Tadhamon Bank, Yemen Kuwait Bank, Shamil Bank of Yemen and Bahrain, Al-Amal Microfinance Bank, Al-Kuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank, and International Bank of Yemen for dealing with the Houthis, which the Yemeni government and other countries consider terrorists, and not relocating their headquarters to Aden.

The central bank also instructed Yemen’s public and financial institutions to deposit all banknote denominations issued before 2016 at the central bank and other commercial banks in government-controlled areas of Yemen within 60 days.

The economic war between the Yemeni government and the Houthis has escalated since 2016 when the government shifted the central bank’s offices from Sanaa to Aden.

The Houthis replied by ceasing to pay public workers in regions under their control, banning the circulation of banknotes printed by the Yemeni government in Aden, and targeting oil terminals in government-controlled Shabwa and Hadramout. 


Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say

Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say
Updated 20 min 36 sec ago
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Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say

Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say
  • Israel says more fighting in central, northern and southern Gaza
  • Head of UNRWA calls for end to Israeli attacks on staff and buildings

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians in a dawn airstrike on Rafah in southern Gaza on Thursday and fighting raged in several other areas of the coastal enclave, Gaza medics said.
Israel pressed on with its offensive on Rafah a day after saying its forces had taken control of a buffer zone along the nearby border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, giving it effective authority over Gaza’s entire land frontier.
It said the buffer zone’s capture had cut off a route used by the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas to smuggle arms into Gaza during more than seven months of war, which has laid waste to much of the territory and raised fears of famine.
Gaza medical sources said the 12 Palestinians, whom it said were civilians, had been killed and an unspecified number of others wounded in an Israeli airstrike as they tried to recover the body of a civilian in the center of Rafah.
Another Palestinian civilian was killed in an airstrike on Al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City in the north of the densely populated enclave, the medics said.
Israel reported clashes in southern, central and northern Gaza but did not immediately comment on the reported deaths in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians took refuge earlier in the war.
Israel has kept up raids on Rafah despite an order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the top UN court, to halt its attacks. Israeli forces say they are trying to root out Hamas fighters and rescue hostages being held there, and the ICJ also called for the release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas.
More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s air and land war in Gaza, with 53 of those killed in the past 24 hours, the Hamas-run enclave’s health ministry said.
Israel launched its offensive after Hamas fighters crossed from Gaza into southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year, killed 1,200 people and abducted more than 250, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli military said a soldier had been killed in fighting in northern Gaza, bringing to 292 Israel’s combat losses since its first Gaza ground incursion on Oct. 20.

TUNNELS, ARMS AND EXPLOSIVES
In an overnight call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant underlined the continuing importance of Israeli operations in the Rafah area “due to concrete information regarding hostages held there.”
“Minister Gallant detailed IDF activities in the Rafah area where 20 terror tunnels have been identified,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement on the overnight call.
The Israeli military also said in a statement that tunnels used by Hamas for smuggling and moving fighters underground had been discovered during the latest raids, as well as large amounts of arms and explosives.
The Israeli statements did not say where the smuggling tunnels ran from. An Israeli official said on May 15 there were 50 tunnels connecting Rafah to the Sinai in Egypt, and voiced concern that Hamas could use them to smuggle senior operatives or hostages into Egyptian territory. Egypt on Wednesday denied the existence of any such tunnels.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, reiterated its opposition to a major ground offensive in Rafah on Tuesday but said it did not believe such an operation was under way.
The US has, with Egypt and Qatar, been involved in efforts to mediate indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on arranging a ceasefire and the release of the remaining hostages. Those talks have stalled, with both sides blaming the other for the lack of progress.
As the war drags on, malnutrition has become widespread in Gaza as aid deliveries have slowed to a trickle, and the United Nations has warned of incipient famine.
Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), also called for an end to what he said were Israeli attacks on UNRWA staff and buildings in Gaza.
In article for the New York Times, he said Israeli officials were “delegitimizing UNRWA by effectively characterizing it as a terrorist organization,” and he described a “dangerous precedent of routine targeting of UN staff and premises.”
His comments followed allegations by Israel in January that 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff in Gaza took part in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Israel did not immediately respond to his remarks.
The Gaza war has also stoked violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, another territory where Palestinians seek statehood.
Israel said two soldiers were killed in an overnight hit-and-run by a Palestinian motorist in the West Bank city of Nablus. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Palestinian factions.


Aggression against Gaza represents a turning point in history of region: Arab League chief

Arab League chief speaks at a press conference during the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum
Arab League chief speaks at a press conference during the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum
Updated 30 May 2024
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Aggression against Gaza represents a turning point in history of region: Arab League chief

Arab League chief speaks at a press conference during the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum
  • Aboul Gheit said that the Arab League was committed to making all efforts to build a promising future for both Arab and Chinese societies

CAIRO: Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the aggression against Gaza for more than eight months “marks a turning point in our region’s history.”

He said that there was “a deep sense of frustration over the international community’s inability to halt this massacre.”

Aboul Gheit was speaking at the opening session of the 10th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing.

The forum —  founded in 2004 in Cairo — includes members of the Arab League. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

Leaders from Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and the UAE were also present.

Aboul Gheit said: We value China’s role and steadfast support for the just cause of the Palestinian people, their right to self-determination and the establishment of their independent state.”

He urged China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to play a more significant role in reinforcing the global consensus on the two-state solution, leading to a reliable and irreversible path to establishing an independent Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967, borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Aboul Gheit said that the Arab League and its member states aimed to enhance regional stability by working to contain existing crises, settle them peacefully, and reduce escalation through balanced relations with neighboring countries based on non-interference in internal affairs and mutual respect.

He reaffirmed the league’s support for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, maintaining a firm commitment to the one-China principle.

Aboul Gheit said that the Arab League was committed to making all efforts to build a promising future for both Arab and Chinese societies.

“We aim to advance the strategic partnership between the Arab countries and China for a better future, strengthening cooperation mechanisms and finding political solutions to issues of mutual concern on regional and international fronts.”

Aboul Gheit said that China had “an illustrious presence in world history that we deeply respect and appreciate. Its profound influence on the world’s present and future is evident and highly valued. Moreover, China’s experience achieving renaissance and progress is greatly admired in our Arab world.”

The Arab League chief said: “Today, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of establishing the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. 

“This forum marked a significant milestone in the history of relations between the two sides, placing these relations within a comprehensive institutional framework, thus ensuring their development and future potential.

“Since its inception, the forum has become a success story in international multilateral cooperation, evidenced by the various mechanisms, memorandums and frameworks it has produced to facilitate collaboration across political, economic, social and development fields.” 

Aboul Gheit said that the first Arab-Chinese summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2022 marked a qualitative shift in Arab-Chinese relations.

This summit signaled the beginning of a pivotal phase in the history of relations between the Arab world and China.

“The outcomes and agreements from this summit laid a strong foundation for mutual benefit, and we are committed to continuing efforts to implement them,” Aboul Gheit said.

He called for institutionalizing the Arab-China summit and holding regular sessions to enhance progress and allow for continuous monitoring and development of cooperation programs.


Child malnutrition at ‘emergency levels’ in Sudan: UN

Child malnutrition at ‘emergency levels’ in Sudan: UN
Updated 30 May 2024
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Child malnutrition at ‘emergency levels’ in Sudan: UN

Child malnutrition at ‘emergency levels’ in Sudan: UN
  • “The lives of Sudan’s children are at stake and urgent action is needed to protect an entire generation from malnutrition, disease and death,” the UNICEF, WHO and WFP said
  • “The ongoing hostilities are worsening the drivers of child malnutrition“

ROME: Three UN agencies warned Thursday of a “significant deterioration” in the nutrition situation of children and mothers in war-torn Sudan, calling for “urgent action.”
“The lives of Sudan’s children are at stake and urgent action is needed to protect an entire generation from malnutrition, disease and death,” the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement.
Sudan has been in the throes of conflict for over a year between the regular army led by de facto ruler Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, including up to 15,000 in a single West Darfur town, according to UN experts.
Nearly nine million people have been forced from their homes.
“The ongoing hostilities are worsening the drivers of child malnutrition,” the agencies said.
“These include a lack of access to nutritious food, safe drinking water and sanitation, and increased risk of disease,” they added.
“Sudan is facing an ever-increasing risk of conflict-induced famine that will have catastrophic consequences including the loss of life, especially among young children.”
The agencies said the conflict “is also severely impacting the delivery of humanitarian supplies, leaving countless women and children without access to vital food and nutritional support... (while) growing violence and bureaucratic procedures impede access to conflict affected areas.”
Child malnutrition in Sudan is “at emergency levels,” the statement said.
In Central Darfur, acute malnutrition is estimated to be at 15.6 percent among children under five, while at the Zamzam camp for displaced people in North Darfur state it is close to 30 percent.
“We need immediate and safe access to deliver the humanitarian assistance that they so desperately need,” said WFP head Cindy McCain.
“Millions of lives are at stake and the international community must act now or we risk losing an entire generation of children,” she said.
The agencies warned: “The window to avert the worst is rapidly closing.”


Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say

Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say
Updated 30 May 2024
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Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say

Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza medics say
  • Officials say Israeli strike occurred as they tried to recover body of civilian in southern Gaza city
  • Israel says more fighting in central, northern and southern Gaza
  • Head of UNRWA calls for end to Israeli attacks on staff and buildings

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians in a dawn airstrike on Rafah in southern Gaza on Thursday and fighting raged in several other areas of the coastal enclave, Gaza medics said.
Israel pressed on with its offensive on Rafah a day after saying its forces had taken control of a buffer zone along the nearby border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, giving it effective authority over Gaza’s entire land frontier.
It said the buffer zone’s capture had cut off a route used by the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas to smuggle arms into Gaza during more than seven months of war, which has laid waste to much of the territory and raised fears of famine.
Gaza medical sources said the 12 Palestinians, whom it said were civilians, had been killed and an unspecified number of others wounded in an Israeli airstrike as they tried to recover the body of a civilian in the center of Rafah.
Another Palestinian civilian was killed in an airstrike on Al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City in the north of the densely populated enclave, the medics said.
Israel reported clashes in southern, central and northern Gaza but did not immediately comment on the reported deaths in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians took refuge earlier in the war.
Israel has kept up raids on Rafah despite an order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the top UN court, to halt its attacks. Israeli forces say they are trying to root out Hamas fighters and rescue hostages being held there, and the ICJ also called for the release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas.
More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s air and land war in Gaza, with 53 of those killed in the past 24 hours, the Hamas-run enclave’s health ministry said.
Israel launched its offensive after Hamas fighters crossed from Gaza into southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year, killed 1,200 people and abducted more than 250, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli military said a soldier had been killed in fighting in northern Gaza, bringing to 292 Israel’s combat losses since its first Gaza ground incursion on Oct. 20.

TUNNELS, ARMS AND EXPLOSIVES
In an overnight call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant underlined the continuing importance of Israeli operations in the Rafah area “due to concrete information regarding hostages held there.”
“Minister Gallant detailed IDF activities in the Rafah area where 20 terror tunnels have been identified,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement on the overnight call.
The Israeli military also said in a statement that tunnels used by Hamas for smuggling and moving fighters underground had been discovered during the latest raids, as well as large amounts of arms and explosives.
The Israeli statements did not say where the smuggling tunnels ran from. An Israeli official said on May 15 there were 50 tunnels connecting Rafah to the Sinai in Egypt, and voiced concern that Hamas could use them to smuggle senior operatives or hostages into Egyptian territory. Egypt on Wednesday denied the existence of any such tunnels.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, reiterated its opposition to a major ground offensive in Rafah on Tuesday but said it did not believe such an operation was under way.
The US has, with Egypt and Qatar, been involved in efforts to mediate indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on arranging a ceasefire and the release of the remaining hostages. Those talks have stalled, with both sides blaming the other for the lack of progress.
As the war drags on, malnutrition has become widespread in Gaza as aid deliveries have slowed to a trickle, and the United Nations has warned of incipient famine.
Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), also called for an end to what he said were Israeli attacks on UNRWA staff and buildings in Gaza.
In article for the New York Times, he said Israeli officials were “delegitimizing UNRWA by effectively characterizing it as a terrorist organization,” and he described a “dangerous precedent of routine targeting of UN staff and premises.”
His comments followed allegations by Israel in January that 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 staff in Gaza took part in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Israel did not immediately respond to his remarks.
The Gaza war has also stoked violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, another territory where Palestinians seek statehood.
Israel said two soldiers were killed in an overnight hit-and-run by a Palestinian motorist in the West Bank city of Nablus. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Palestinian factions.