Britain sanctions Israeli groups, individuals for violence in West Bank

Britain sanctions Israeli groups, individuals for violence in West Bank
Mourners react during the funeral of Palestinian militant, Ahmed Abu al-Foul, who was killed by Palestinian Authority forces in Tulkarm camp, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (File/Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 03 May 2024
Follow

Britain sanctions Israeli groups, individuals for violence in West Bank

Britain sanctions Israeli groups, individuals for violence in West Bank
  • The four individuals sanctioned were responsible for human rights abuses against Palestinian communities in the West Bank

LONDON: Britain on Friday imposed sanctions on two “extremist” groups and four individuals in Israel who it blamed for violence in the West Bank, its latest package of measures against Israeli settlers.
Britain’s Foreign Office named Hilltop Youth and Lehava as two groups which it said were known to have supported, incited and promoted violence against Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
The four individuals sanctioned were responsible for human rights abuses against these communities, the statement added.
Among them are Noam Federman, who has trained settler groups in committing violence and Elisha Yered, who has justified killing Palestinians on religious grounds.
Violence in the West Bank was already on the rise before Israel’s assault on Gaza, which was triggered by an Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel.
It has escalated since, with stepped-up Israeli military raids, settler violence and Palestinian street attacks.
British foreign minister David Cameron said extremist settlers were undermining security and stability and threatening the prospects for peace.
“The Israeli authorities must clamp down on those responsible. The UK will not hesitate to take further action if needed, including through further sanctions,” he said.
Those sanctioned will be subject to financial and travel restrictions. Britain previously imposed sanctions on four Israeli nationals in February.


Biden faces more pressure from Democrats to abandon re-election bid

Biden faces more pressure from Democrats to abandon re-election bid
Updated 10 sec ago
Follow

Biden faces more pressure from Democrats to abandon re-election bid

Biden faces more pressure from Democrats to abandon re-election bid
It was unclear whether Biden’s performance would convince doubters in his party that he is their best bet to defeat Republican Donald Trump
At least 17 congressional Democrats so far have called for him to drop out

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden faced more calls from fellow Democrats to abandon his re-election bid on Friday, following a news conference in which he delivered nuanced responses but occasionally stumbled over his words.
It was unclear whether Biden’s performance would convince doubters in his party that he is their best bet to defeat Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 5 election and serve another four-year term in the White House.
At least 17 congressional Democrats so far have called for him to drop out and allow the party to pick another standard-bearer, including some who announced their positions after the news conference on Thursday night.
Democrats are worried that Biden’s low public approval ratings and growing concerns that he is too old for the job could cause them to lose seats in the House and Senate, leaving them with no grip on power in Washington should Trump win the White House.
But Biden made clear that he did not plan to step aside.
“If I show up at the convention and everybody says they want someone else, that’s the democratic process,” Biden said, before shifting to the stage whisper he often uses for emphasis to add, “It’s not gonna happen.”
Biden perhaps did not reassure those who were spooked by his poor presidential debate performance against Trump on June 27.
At one point, he referred to his vice president, Kamala Harris, as “Vice President Trump.” That came just hours after he introduced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “President Putin” at the NATO summit, drawing gasps from those in the room.
Biden occasionally garbled his responses at the news conference, yet he also delivered detailed assessments of global issues, including Ukraine’s war with Russia and the Israel-Gaza conflict, that served as a reminder of his decades of experience on the world stage.
Some Democrats were not reassured.
“We must put forward the strongest candidate possible to confront the threat posed by Trump’s promised MAGA authoritarianism. I no longer believe that is Joe Biden,” said Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, who called on the president to end his campaign after the news conference.
But one influential party figure, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, reiterated his support on Friday morning.
“I am all in. I’m riding with Biden no matter which direction he goes,” he said on NBC’s “Today” program.
A senior campaign official who spoke on condition of anonymity called the performance the “worst of all worlds. Not good. But not bad enough to make him change his mind ... It’ll give some enough cover to back him publicly, only to say he’s not up for it privately.”
Fundraiser Dmitri Melhorn said other donors told him they saw a strong performance from the president. “This is the person who can beat Trump. The mistakes are baked in and the upside is strong,” he told Reuters.
Biden will hold a rally on Friday in Detroit, where his campaign says he will focus on the “dangers” of Trump’s agenda.
The Michigan city is also headquarters of the United Auto Workers labor union, whose leaders endorsed Biden but now are assessing their options, three sources told Reuters.
With most US voters firmly divided into ideological camps, opinion polls show the race remains close.
An NBC/PBS poll released on Friday found Biden leading Trump 50 percent to 48 percent, a slight increase from his position before the debate. Biden fared slightly worse than Trump when third-party candidates were included in the questioning.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week found Biden and Trump tied at 40 percent each. But some nonpartisan analysts have warned that Biden is losing ground in the handful of competitive states that will determine the outcome of the election.

Kyiv says it wants permission for strikes in Russia to destroy air bases

Kyiv says it wants permission for strikes in Russia to destroy air bases
Updated 5 min 4 sec ago
Follow

Kyiv says it wants permission for strikes in Russia to destroy air bases

Kyiv says it wants permission for strikes in Russia to destroy air bases
  • Kyiv sought the destruction of air bases from which Russian aircraft fly

KYIV: Kyiv wants its allies to lift restrictions on long-range attacks inside Russia so that it can systematically destroy Russian air bases where aircraft used in attacks on Ukraine are stationed, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Friday.
Mykhailo Podolyak said on X that Kyiv sought the destruction of air bases from which Russian aircraft fly to carry out “deliberate massive strikes against the civilian population and civilian objects.”


Major victory for ex-PM Khan as Pakistan top court rules party eligible for reserved seats

Major victory for ex-PM Khan as Pakistan top court rules party eligible for reserved seats
Updated 12 July 2024
Follow

Major victory for ex-PM Khan as Pakistan top court rules party eligible for reserved seats

Major victory for ex-PM Khan as Pakistan top court rules party eligible for reserved seats
  • Khan’s PTI was denied its share of 70 reserved seats that were allotted to parties part of PM Sharif-led ruling coalition
  • Supreme Court says the PTI was and is a political party and eligible for reserved seats for women and minorities

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court on Friday delivered a landmark verdict saying the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan was eligible for reserved seats in parliament, mounting pressure on the fragile ruling coalition of premier Shehbaz Sharif.

PTI candidates contested the Feb. 8 general elections as independents after the party was barred from the polls and though these independents won the most seats, 93, the election commission ruled they would not get their share of 70 seats reserved for women and minorities since they are meant for political parties only. The seats were then allotted to other parties, mostly from those in Sharif’s ruling coalition.

In Pakistan, parties are allocated 70 reserved seats — 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims — in proportion to the number of seats won in general elections. This completes the National Assembly’s total 336 seats. A simple majority in Pakistan’s parliament is 169 out of 336 seats.

In March, both the ECP and Peshawar High Court in separate rulings said that the independents were not eligible for the reserved seats, dealing a blow to the embattled PTI’s governing prospects and proving to be a major setback for Khan, who has been in jail since last August. The verdicts were subsequently overruled by the Supreme Court, which has since last month been hearing a set of petitions on the issue.

On Friday, the Supreme Court set aside the Peshawar High Court verdict and said the ECP order declaring the PTI ineligible for reserved seats was “ultra vires of the constitution, without lawful authority and of no legal effect.”

“PTI shall be eligible for women and ministries reserved seats in parliament,” Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa said as he read the verdict in one of the petitions filed by the PTI-backed bloc, calling on the ECP to recalculate the number of reserved seats Khan’s party was entitled to.

PTI’s Syed Shibli Faraz, currently serving as the leader of the opposition in the Senate, said that this was a “historic” day in Pakistani politics.

“Heartiest congratulations firstly to the Pakistani public and their leader Imran Khan,” Faraz told reporters after the court ruling was announced.

Without the 70 reserved seats, the government stands to lose its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, without which it cannot push through constitutional amendments.

The verdict also bolsters the political position of Khan’s supporters, whose rallying cry has been that the election commission and a pro-military caretaker government that oversaw the polls indulged in electoral fraud to deprive it of a victory. The ECP denies this.

“PTI WAS AND IS A PARTY”

All candidates from Khan’s PTI party were forced to contest the February polls as independents after the party was stripped of its election symbol of the cricket bat by the ECP on the technical grounds that it did not hold intra-party elections, a prerequisite for any party to take part in polls.

After the election, the PTI-backed candidates were forced to join Sunni Ittehad Council, or SIC, party to claim a share of 70 reserved seats as independents are not eligible for the extra seats.

“It is declared that lack of denial of an election symbol does not in any way affect the right of a political party to participate in an election,” said the court order in one of the PTI petitions, which was supported by eight judges and opposed by five of the 13-member full court bench. “The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, PTI, was and is a party.”

The order said that elected members of the PTI could not be declared independents or candidates of the SIC and gave the PTI 15 days to submit its list of candidates entitled for reserved seats to the election commission.

Addressing a press conference, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said the government would wait for the detailed judgment to decide on its course of action, but pointed out that the petitions had been filed by the SIC but “relief” had been given by the court to the PTI, which did not file the pleas.

“A lot of confusion and questions has been born from this judgment,” he told reporters. “A situation has been created in which there is little clarity.”

In a statement sent to media, the PTI said that 86 PTI-backed returned candidates in the National Assembly and 107 in the Punjab Assembly, 91 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and 9 in the Sindh Assembly “are entitled to be counted for the purpose of election to the reserved seats on the basis of proportional representation.” It is expected that the PTI could get up to 23 reserved seats after Friday’s judgment.

PM Sharif formed a weak coalition with other parties after the Feb. 8 general elections produced a hung parliament.

Sharif’s PML-N party’s 79 and the PPP’s 54 seats together made a simple majority in parliament to form a government at the center and also roped in smaller parties in the coalition.


WHO says coronavirus still kills 1,700 per week worldwide 

WHO says coronavirus still kills 1,700 per week worldwide 
Updated 12 July 2024
Follow

WHO says coronavirus still kills 1,700 per week worldwide 

WHO says coronavirus still kills 1,700 per week worldwide 
  • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sounds warning on declining vaccine coverage
  • Advices that people in highest-risk groups receive a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of their last dose

Geneva: Covid-19 is still killing around 1,700 people a week around the world, the World Health Organization said Thursday, as it urged at-risk populations to keep up with their vaccinations against the disease.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sounded a warning on declining vaccine coverage.

Despite the continued death toll, “data show that vaccine coverage has declined among health workers and people over 60, which are two of the most at-risk groups,” the UN health agency’s chief told a press conference.

“WHO recommends that people in the highest-risk groups receive a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of their last dose.”

More than seven million Covid deaths have been reported to the WHO, though the true toll of the pandemic is thought to be far higher.

Covid-19 also shredded economies and crippled health systems.

Tedros declared an end to Covid-19 as an international public health emergency in May 2023, more than three years on from when the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

The WHO has urged governments to maintain virus surveillance and sequencing, and to ensure access to affordable and reliable tests, treatments and vaccines.


China says conducting joint military drills with Russia

China says conducting joint military drills with Russia
Updated 12 July 2024
Follow

China says conducting joint military drills with Russia

China says conducting joint military drills with Russia
  • China and Russia have drawn closer in recent years and tout their friendship as having ‘no limits’

BEIJING: China said Friday it was conducting joint military drills with Russia along its southern coast, after a US-led Western defense alliance met in Washington and Japan warned of a growing threat from Beijing’s strong ties with Moscow.
China’s defense ministry said the two militaries had begun the exercises, called Joint Sea-2024, in “early July” and they would last until the middle of this month.
The drills in the waters and airspace around Zhanjiang, a city in southern Guangdong province, are “to demonstrate the resolve and capabilities of the two sides in jointly addressing maritime security threats and preserving global and regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.
It added that the exercises “will further deepen China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era.”
They were taking place in accordance with Beijing and Moscow’s annual plan for military engagement, according to the ministry.
The announcement came in the same week that NATO leaders convened in Washington to reaffirm support for Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.
China and Russia have drawn closer in recent years and tout their friendship as having “no limits,” and both share hostile relations with NATO.
NATO leaders said in a declaration on Wednesday that China had “become a decisive enabler” of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting Beijing to warn NATO against “provoking confrontation.”
China maintains that it is not a party to the Ukraine conflict but has been criticized by Western leaders for giving political and economic support to Russia, including in the trade of goods with both civilian and military uses.
Chinese forces are also staging drills this week with Belarus, another Russian ally, on NATO’s eastern border.
And Japan said Friday that joint China-Russia activities near its territory pose a “grave concern from the perspective of national security.”