Israel yet to respond to French Lebanon proposals, French ministry says

Israel yet to respond to French Lebanon proposals, French ministry says
Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne went to both Lebanon and Israel in April to push France’s efforts. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2024
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Israel yet to respond to French Lebanon proposals, French ministry says

Israel yet to respond to French Lebanon proposals, French ministry says
  • The written proposal also looks at long-term border issues

PARIS: Israel has not given a response to France on Paris’ proposals to reduce tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, France’s foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.
Israel and Hezbollah have been engaged in escalating daily cross-border strikes over the past months — in parallel with the war in Gaza — and their increasing range and sophistication has raised fears of a wider regional conflict.
France has historical ties with Lebanon and has proposed written proposals to both sides that would see Hezbollah’s elite unit pull back 10 km (6 miles) from the Israeli border, while Israel would halt strikes in southern Lebanon.
Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne went to both Lebanon and Israel in April to push France’s efforts, and Israel’s foreign minister was in Paris earlier this month. Lebanon’s foreign minister was in Paris for talks on Wednesday.
“We have had a relatively positive response from the Lebanese, but I think we have not had any return from Israel at this point,” Christophe Lemoine told reporters in a daily briefing.
The written proposal also looks at long-term border issues and had been discussed with partners including the United States, which has its own efforts to ease tensions and exerts the most influence on Israel.
The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah has amassed a formidable arsenal since a 2006 war with Israel and since October thousands of people on both sides of the border have been displaced by the clashes.


UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit
Updated 15 June 2024
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UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit
  • Sheikh Mohamed, Sunak discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with UK Prime Minister Sunak on Friday on the sidelines of the G7 Summit session on artificial intelligence and energy in Apulia, Emirates News Agency reported.

During the meeting, the two leaders talked about how to strengthen and expand bilateral relations in a variety of areas, including economics and development.

The two leaders also discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, emphasizing the importance of laying the groundwork for peace, stability, and security in the Middle East.


Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death

Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death
Updated 15 June 2024
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Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death

Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death
  • Hezbollah said Saturday that it targeted the Meron base in northern Israel with “guided missiles,” and sent “attack drones” toward another Israeli base
  • The Israeli army said “two projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward the IDF (army) Aerial Control Unit in the area of Meron in northern Israel“

BEIRUT: Hezbollah on Saturday kept up retaliatory attacks on military positions in northern Israel, and one person was killed in Lebanon, days after an Israeli strike hit a senior commander from the Iran-backed group.
Senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah was killed in an Israeli strike in the village of Jouaiyya on Tuesday, alongside three comrades, a source close to the group had told AFP.
Hezbollah said Saturday that it targeted the Meron base in northern Israel with “guided missiles,” and sent “attack drones” toward another Israeli base “as part of the response to the attack and assassination carried out by the enemy in Jouaiyya.”
Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, have traded near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel which triggered war in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army had confirmed it carried out the strike targeting Abdallah, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
On Saturday, the Israeli army said “two projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward the IDF (army) Aerial Control Unit in the area of Meron in northern Israel,” reporting “no injuries or damage to the unit’s capabilities.”
It also said “several aerial targets were identified crossing from Lebanon into Israeli territory” and falling in the Goren area, adding there were no reported injuries but that “a fire broke out.”
“Aircraft struck a Hezbollah terrorist” in south Lebanon’s Aitarun area, the military said, adding that “artillery fired to remove a threat,” also in the Aitarun area.
A source close to Hezbollah and rescuers affiliated with the group said a non-Lebanese man was killed in Aitarun, without providing further details.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency had reported unspecified casualties in an “Israeli drone” strike on a motorbike on the road between Aitarun and Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
A Lebanese military source said Abdallah was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 471 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 91 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.


Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal

Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal
Updated 15 June 2024
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Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal

Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal
  • The spokesman of Al-Quds Brigades made the remarks in a video posted on Telegram
  • Islamic Jihad is a smaller ally of Hamas

CAIRO: The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Saturday the only way to return Israeli hostages is through Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, ending its offensive and reaching a deal for exchanging Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
The spokesman of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian group, made the remarks in a video posted on Telegram.
Islamic Jihad is a smaller ally of the militant Islamist group Hamas, which led a rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. More than 100 hostages are believed to remain captive in Gaza, although at least 40 have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli authorities.
At least 37,296 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military campaign to eliminate Hamas, according to the Gaza health ministry.


Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war

Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war
Updated 15 June 2024
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Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war

Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war
  • Biden expected to demonstrate that the Gaza ceasefire plan is not a calculated electoral tactic but a sincere effort to end the war

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that US President Joe Biden is undergoing “a test of sincerity” in his handling of the Gaza war.
In an interview with reporters on his way back from the G7 Summit in Italy, Erdogan said Biden is expected to demonstrate that the Gaza ceasefire plan is not a calculated electoral tactic but a sincere effort to end the war.
He also said that Germany has softened its stance on sales of Eurofighter jets to Turkiye. In November, Turkiye said the country was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy Eurofighter Typhoons, though Germany objected the idea.
“Eurofighters are important to us,” he added.
Erdogan also said that inflation will be put on a more favorable position in the final quarter with the steps to be taken on interest rates.
“Policies aimed at rebalancing the economy are bearing fruit,” Erdogan said.


France, Germany, Britain condemn Iran’s steps to expand nuclear program

France, Germany, Britain condemn Iran’s steps to expand nuclear program
Updated 15 June 2024
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France, Germany, Britain condemn Iran’s steps to expand nuclear program

France, Germany, Britain condemn Iran’s steps to expand nuclear program
  • The three allies said Iran’s moves were undermining a landmark 2015 deal on its nuclear program

PARIS: France, Germany and Britain on Saturday condemned Iran’s “latest measures,” after the United Nations atomic watchdog said the country was expanding its nuclear capacities.

The three allies said Iran’s moves were undermining a landmark 2015 deal on its nuclear program, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday said the country was strengthening enrichment facilities at two sites.

“These measures will again increase Iran’s stock of enriched uranium and enrichment capacity, whose levels have already surpassed the limits set” by the 2015 deal, the French, German and British foreign ministries said in a joint statement.

The condemnation came more than a week after the countries tabled a resolution at an IAEA board of governors meeting criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation with the nuclear watchdog, the first such move since November 2022.

Iran condemned the resolution as “hasty and unwise.”

It denies seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, saying its atomic program is for peaceful and civilian purposes.

Germany, France and Britain said it was unacceptable that Iran presented its measures as a reaction to the resolution.

They reiterated their commitment to a diplomatic solution preventing Tehran developing a nuclear weapon.

According to the IAEA, Iran is the only non-nuclear weapon state to enrich uranium to the high level of 60 percent — just short of weapons-grade — while it continues accumulating large uranium stockpiles.

The IAEA has said Tehran has significantly ramped up its nuclear program and now has enough material to build several atomic bombs.

The Islamic republic has gradually broken away from its commitments under the 2015 deal it struck with world powers.

The accord provided relief from Western sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s atomic program.

It fell apart after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States under then-president Donald Trump in 2018.

Efforts to revive the deal have so far failed.