Netanyahu says Israel firm on Jerusalem as global concern mounts

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel firmly rejects pressure not to build in Jerusalem. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 May 2021

Netanyahu says Israel firm on Jerusalem as global concern mounts

  • Pope Francis has also called for an end to the violence in Jerusalem
  • Tunisia calls for UN Security Council meeting, as Arab League and Arab Parliament to hold emergency sessions to discuss Israeli crimes and attacks

LONDON: Israel “firmly rejects” pressure not to build in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday following spreading international condemnation of planned evictions of Palestinians from homes in the city claimed by Jewish settlers.
“We firmly reject the pressure not to build in Jerusalem. To my regret, this pressure has been increasing of late,” Netanyahu said during a televised address ahead of national commemorations of the Israeli capture of east Jerusalem in a 1967 war.
“I say also to the best of our friends: Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and just as every nation builds in its capital and builds up its capital, we also have the right to build in Jerusalem and to build up Jerusalem. That is what we have done and that is what we will continue to do,” Netanyahu said.
His comments come as Israel’s justice ministry said it would delay the key Monday hearing in the case that could see Palestinian families evicted from their Jerusalem homes to make way for Jewish settlers.
“In all the circumstances and in light of the attorney general’s request, the regular hearing for tomorrow, May 10, 2021 (is) canceled,” it said in a statement, adding it would schedule a new hearing within 30 days.
The delay follows days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces, fueled in part by the dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Meanwhile, UNICEF urged the Israeli authorities to refrain from using violence against children and release all those detained, after 37 Palestinian children have been injured and arrested in east Jerusalem in the last two days.
“Over the past two days, 29 Palestinian children were injured in east Jerusalem, including in the Old City and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood (and) eight Palestinian children were arrested.
“A one-year old toddler was among those injured. Some children were taken for treatment at hospitals with injuries in the head and the spine,” the UN children’s body said.
UNICEF said it received reports that ambulances were restricted from arriving on location to assist and evacuate the injured and that an on-site clinic was reportedly hit and searched.
“All children should be protected from violence and kept out of harm’s way at all times. Families’ rights to access all places of worship should be preserved and those injured be assisted without restrictions,” it said in a statement.
Pope Francis expressed his concern at the unrest in Jerusalem, saying: “Violence only generates violence. Let’s stop these clashes.”
“I pray so that this might be a place of encounter and not violent clashes, a place of prayer and of peace. I invite everyone to seek shared resolutions so that the multireligious identity and multiculture of the holy city might be respected and so that fraternity might prevail,” he said after reciting the Regina Caeli prayer.
Jordan also urged Israel on Sunday to stop what it described as “barbaric” attacks on worshippers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque and said it would step up international pressure.
Jordan, which has custodianship of Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, said Israel should respect worshippers and international law safeguarding Arab rights.
King Abdullah II condemned the violations and said he rejected attempts by Israeli authorities to change the demographic situation in east Jerusalem, and all measures aimed at changing the city’s historical and legal status. The king also called on Israel to adhere to international law and international humanitarian law.
During a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah said Jordan would continue to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites and to preserve its Arab and Islamic identity, and called for coordination between Arab states to put an end to the Israeli violations in east Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque.
“What the Israeli police and special forces are doing, from violations against the mosque to attacks on worshippers, is barbaric (behavior) that is rejected and condemned,” the government said in a statement.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the kingdom would do its utmost to protect rights of Palestinians against ownership claims by Jewish settlers.
“Israel as the occupying force carries responsibility for protecting rights of Palestinians in their homes,” Safadi said in comments on state media.
Tunisia, the only Arab member of the UN Security Council, in coordination with Palestine, submitted a request to hold a session on Monday to discuss the dangerous escalation and aggressive practices of the Israeli authorities in Palestinian territories.
The request was supported by China — current president of the council — along with Norway, Ireland, Vietnam, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines and Niger.
The session will also discuss Israeli attacks against the Palestinians and their insistence on their expansionist policies, including settlement plans, demolition and dispossession of homes, displacement of Palestinian families, land grabbing, and obliterating the historical and civilizational identity of Jerusalem, the Tunisian foreign ministry said.
“These practices constitute a flagrant violation of international law, a threat to international peace and security and undermine efforts aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the region,” the ministry added.
Arab League foreign ministers announced they would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday at Palestine’s request, which has been supported by a number of countries. 
Hossam Zaki, assistant secretary-general of the Arab League, said in a statement “the meeting will discuss Israeli crimes and attacks in the occupied city of Jerusalem, Islamic and Christian holy sites, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque, and attacks on worshipers, in addition to the brutal Israeli attacks and plans to seize the homes of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to empty the city of its residents and displace its people.”
Zaki said the decision was taken to raise the level of the meeting to the ministerial level, instead of ambassadorial, in proportion to the “seriousness of the Israeli attacks that are part of the Zionist regime’s systematic policy to Judaize Jerusalem and change the existing legal and historical status of the city and its sanctities.”
The Arab Parliament also said it will hold an emergency session on May 19 in Cairo to discuss the same issues.
Adel bin Abdulrahman Al-Asoumi, president of the Arab Parliament, stressed the need for Israel to stop the ongoing crimes committed against the Palestinian people, and support all their rights, foremost of which is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is also set to hold an emergency session on Tuesday. 
Dozens of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers have been wounded in clashes in recent days in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the scene of a long-running land dispute and located a short walk from flashpoint holy sites.
The case dates back to before the creation of the state of Israel, when a small Jewish community lived in Sheikh Jarrah.
After Israel’s independence and the 1948 war with its Arab neighbors, east Jerusalem came under the control of Jordan.
Many refugees settled in the district after fleeing Zionist forces in other parts of what was now Israel.
Israel then seized east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it.
Early this year, the Jerusalem district court ruled in favor of Jewish settlers who laid claim to land in the Sheikh Jarrah district, now home to around 30 Palestinians from four families.
Palestinians argue that discriminatory laws mean they are unable to claim back their properties inside what is now Israel.
The Palestinian families’ lawyer, Hosni Abu Hussein, also accused the settlers of fraud.
“The registration of the lands in the name of the settlement association took place through fraud and deception, in collusion with the commissioner of public properties and the registrar of Israeli lands,” he told AFP.
The dispute, in a strategic location close to Jerusalem’s Old City, has added fuel to tensions around the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest mosque, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 
Hamas in Gaza have threatened attacks against Israel if the high-profile case goes against the Palestinian families.
(With Reuters and AFP)


Biden to host Israeli President Rivlin on June 28 — White House

Updated 16 min 33 sec ago

Biden to host Israeli President Rivlin on June 28 — White House

  • Rivlin will visit shortly before he is due to end his seven-year term in July

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden plans to host Israel’s new president, Reuven Rivlin, at the White House on June 28, the White House said on Saturday.
“President Rivlin’s visit will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Israel and the deep ties between our governments and our people,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Rivlin will visit shortly before he is due to end his seven-year term in July.
Isaac Herzog was elected the country’s new president this month in elections that marked the end of the era of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu era in Israel.
The role of president is largely ceremonial but also meant to promote unity among ethnic and religious groups.
The government changed after last month’s fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza also touched off rare mob violence among the Jewish majority and Arab minority within Israeli cities.
“President Rivlin approaches the end of his term, this visit will honor the dedication he has shown to strengthening the friendship between the two countries over the course of many years,” Psaki said.


Israel says Iran’s Raisi extreme, committed to nuclear program

Updated 19 June 2021

Israel says Iran’s Raisi extreme, committed to nuclear program

  • Foreign minister Yair Lapid calls Iran's new president the 'butcher of Tehran'
  • Says Ebrahim Raisi is committed to the regime’s nuclear ambitions and to its campaign of global terror

JERUSALEM: Israel on Saturday condemned Iran’s newly-elected president Ebrahim Raisi, saying he was its most extreme president yet and committed to quickly advancing Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Iran’s new president, known as the Butcher of Tehran, is an extremist responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians. He is committed to the regime’s nuclear ambitions and to its campaign of global terror,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Twitter.
A separate statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Raisi’s election should “prompt grave concern among the international community.”
Israel’s new government, sworn in on Sunday, has said it would object to the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and its arch-foe, Iran.
Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat. Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
Toeing the policy line set by the administration of Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the foreign ministry said: “More than ever, Iran’s nuclear program must be halted immediately, rolled back entirely and stopped indefinitely.”
“Iran’s ballistic missile program must be dismantled and its global terror campaign vigorously countered by a broad international coalition.”
Raisi, a hard-line judge who is under US sanctions for human rights abuses, secured victory as expected on Saturday in Iran’s presidential election after a contest marked by voter apathy over economic hardships and political restrictions.


Parties to Iran nuclear deal to hold formal meeting on Sunday: EU

Updated 19 June 2021

Parties to Iran nuclear deal to hold formal meeting on Sunday: EU

  • The meeting comes amid the sixth round of indirect talks between Washington and Tehran
  • These formal meetings are usually an indication that the latest round will be adjourned

PARIS: Parties negotiating a revival of the Iran nuclear deal will hold a formal meeting in Vienna on Sunday, the European Union said on Saturday.
Iran and six world powers have been negotiating in Vienna since April to work out steps for Washington and Tehran to take. The United States withdrew in 2018 from the pact, under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of many foreign sanctions against it.
Sunday's formal meeting comes more than a week after this round of talks resumed and is an indication that the talks are likely to be adjourned.
Officials over the week have indicated that differences remain on key issues.
"The Joint Commission of #JCPOA will meet on Sunday, June 20," Mikhail Ulyanov Russia's envoy to the talks said on Twitter.
"It will decide on the way ahead at the #ViennaTalks. An agreement on restoration of the nuclear deal is within reach but is not finalised yet."
The remaining parties to the deal - Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union - meet in the basement of a luxury hotel.
The US delegation to the talks is based in a hotel across the street as Iran refuses face-to-face meetings, leaving the other delegations and EU to work as go-betweens.
Since former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran has embarked on counter measures, including rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear bombs.


UAE to suspend entry of travelers on flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia

Updated 19 June 2021

UAE to suspend entry of travelers on flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Namibia

CAIRO: The United Arab Emirates will suspend travelers from entering the country from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Namibia on national and foreign flights from Monday, June 21, Emirates News Agency (WAM) said on Saturday.
WAM said the restrictions would also include transit passengers, with the exception of transit flights traveling to the UAE and bound for those countries.


Amnesty accuses Iran’s newly-elected president of ‘crimes against humanity’

Updated 19 June 2021

Amnesty accuses Iran’s newly-elected president of ‘crimes against humanity’

DUBAI: Amnesty International released a report Saturday saying that Iran’s newly elected leader Ebrahim Raisi is involved in crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and forced disappearances.

The report, which came out a few hours after Raisi was named the winner of the Islamic republic’s presidential election, denounces his rise to presidency instead of undergoing investigation.

Citing Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard, the report said: “Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”

“In 2018, our organization documented how Ebrahim Raisi had been a member of the ‘death commission’ which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988. The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity.”

The report also said: “‘As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiralling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained.

Dressed in a black turban and cleric’s coat, Raisi casts himself as an austere and pious figure and an corruption-fighting champion of the poor.

Critics charge the election was skewed in his favor as strong rivals were disqualified, but to his loyal supporters he is Iran’s best hope for standing up to the West and bringing relief from a deep economic crisis.

Raisi is not renowned for great charisma but, as head of the judiciary, has driven a popular campaign to prosecute corrupt officials.

Raisi is set to take over from moderate Hassan Rouhani in August.

(With AFP)

 

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