Palestinian government ends coronavirus lockdown

A Palestinian groom, Rafeh Qassim, wears a mask as he sits in a car with his bride on their wedding day amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 18, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 May 2020

Palestinian government ends coronavirus lockdown

  • Shops and businesses will operate as normal from Tuesday

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian government is ending its two-month coronavirus lockdown in the occupied West Bank, prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced Monday after a steady decline in new cases.
Shops and businesses will operate as normal from Tuesday, while government employees will return to work after the Eid holiday on Wednesday, Shtayyeh told a press conference.
Mosques, churches and public parks will also reopen, though with social distancing measures. Public transport will resume.
Cafes and restaurants would be reopened but subject to restrictions to be announced in the coming days, he added.
“The easing in the measures and gradual return to normal life is being taken with caution,” Shtayyeh said, warning that an increase in cases could lead to restrictions being reinstated.
The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency in March to try to quell the spread of COVID-19.
There have been more than 400 cases in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with three deaths.
In Gaza, which is controlled by a rival Hamas-led government, the easing of measures began several weeks ago.
The lockdown in the West Bank had been due to remain in place until June 5 but was ended early with few new cases in recent weeks.


UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

Updated 30 October 2020

UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

  • Husband Richard Ratcliffe: Iran has ordered Nazanin to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen”

LONDON: Britain on Friday warned Iran against throwing detained woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back in jail, after hauling in Tehran’s envoy for a dressing-down over her emotive case.
The Foreign Office summoned Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad on Thursday to hear renewed demands from a senior official for an end to the British-Iranian captive’s “arbitrary detention.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in a “horrific position,” after her husband said Iran has ordered her to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail.
Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen,” Raab said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who will turn 42 on Boxing Day, has been on temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016 while visiting relatives with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016. (AFP)

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said this week that the Foreign Office’s handling of the case “seems disastrous,” and that “the UK is dancing to Iran’s tune.”
Raab told the BBC: “We’ve made it very clear we want to try to put the relationship between the UK and Iran on a better footing.
“If Nazanin is returned to prison, that will of course put our discussions and the basis of those discussions in a totally different place. It is entirely unacceptable.”
Richard Ratcliffe linked the latest development to the postponement of a hearing that was due to take place on Tuesday in London to address Iran’s longstanding demand for the repayment by Britain of hundreds of millions from an old military equipment order.
“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years,” he said, accusing Iran of “hostage diplomacy.”