Jordan says Israel disavows behavior of top minister over flag of expanded borders

Israel's Finance Minister and leader of the Religious Zionist Party Bezalel Smotrich attends a meeting at the parliament, Knesset, in Jerusalem on March 20, 2023. (File/AFP)
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Updated 21 March 2023

Jordan says Israel disavows behavior of top minister over flag of expanded borders

  • Inciteful rhetoric: The UAE also condemned finance minister Bezalel Smotrich’s statements

Jordan said it has received assurance from Israel that the behavior of a top cabinet minister, who spoke at a podium adorned with an Israeli flag that appeared to include Jordan, did not represent their position, an official source said on Tuesday.

The source told Reuters that top Israeli officials rejected Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s move during a speech on Monday, and said that they respected Jordan’s borders and Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan. Smotrich heads a religious-nationalist party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition.

The UAE on Tuesday condemned the finance minister’s statements as well as his use of a map of Israel that includes lands from Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation affirmed the UAE’s rejection of inciteful rhetoric and all practices that contradict moral and human values and principles, state news agency WAM reported.

The ministry stressed the need to confront hate speech and violence and noted the importance of promoting the values of tolerance and coexistence to reduce escalation and instability in the region, the report added.

The Arab League also condemned the Israeli minister's statements. The Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine to the Arab League, Saeed Abu Ali, said in a statement these statements by Smotrich represent a racist and colonial stance, and considered the statements a blatant threat to peace and security in the region.
The Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League stressed the need to be alert to the seriousness of these Israeli policies and the importance of confronting them with firm international stances and measures in support of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Amman late on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador in Jordan and said Smotrich’s move was a provocative act by an “extremist” and “racist” minister that violated international norms and Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel.

“These statements are provocative, racist and come from an extremist figure and we call on the international community to condemn it,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at a news conference.

Safadi received a call from Israel’s national security adviser, assuring him that Israel — which shares the longest border with its neighbor to the West of the Jordan River — respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, the source said.

Smotrich made the speech as Israeli and Palestinian officials met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for de-escalation talks ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover holiday.

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Tunisia’s financial crisis leaves the sick struggling to find medicine

Updated 01 June 2023

Tunisia’s financial crisis leaves the sick struggling to find medicine

  • Hundreds of medicines have been missing for months, pharmacies say, including important treatments for heart disease, cancer and diabetes
  • "The issue of missing medicine has become very hard for patients," said Douha Maaoui Faourati, a Tunis doctor

TUNIS: Sick Tunisians face a frantic struggle to find some medicines because the cash-strapped state has reduced imports, leaving doctors unable to control debilitating health problems and patients turning to informal markets for their medication.
Hundreds of medicines have been missing for months, pharmacies say, including important treatments for heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as more basic products such as medicated eye drops whose absence worsens chronic conditions.
“The issue of missing medicine has become very hard for patients. We have a real problem with some medicines for which there are no generics available,” said Douha Maaoui Faourati, a Tunis doctor specializing in kidney and blood pressure disease.
Faourati has had to ask patients to try to get drugs from Europe, including ones used to control dangerously irregular heartbeat, swelling and clotting, and for which she says no good alternative is available in Tunisia.
Her difficulties show how Tunisia’s worsening fiscal problems are hitting ordinary people and adding to public anger at a state barely able to maintain even basic services.
Since last year Tunisia has struggled to pay for other goods that are sold at subsidised rates, causing periodic shortages of bread, dairy products and cooking oil as foreign currency reserves dropped from 130 days of imports to 93 days.
Tunisia wants a $1.9 billion International Monetary Fund bailout, without which ratings agencies have warned it may default on sovereign debt, but President Kais Saied has rejected key terms of the deal and donors say talks have stalled.
Tunisia imports all medicine through the state-owned Central Pharmacy, which provides drugs to hospitals and pharmacies around the country which offer them to patients at a subsidised rate.
The head of Tunisia’s Syndicate of Pharmacies, Naoufel Amira, said hundreds of medicines are no longer available, including for diabetes, anaesthesia and cancer treatment.
Amira and two officials at the Central Pharmacy who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to media, said the body owed large sums to foreign suppliers, which had restricted their sales to Tunisia in response.
“The problem is primarily financial,” Amira said.
Amira said the Central Pharmacy owed about 1 billion dinars ($325 million) to suppliers. The officials there said it owed about 800 million dinars, adding that public insurance companies and hospitals were delaying paying their bills by up to a year.
Tunisia’s Health Ministry and Central Pharmacy did not respond to requests for comment.

MEDICINE EXCHANGE
From the roof of his Tunis house, retired soldier Nabil Boukhili has opened an unofficial medicine exchange for his neighborhood in coordination with local doctors. “We have dozens of people coming here daily to get medication,” he said.
He sources medicine from people traveling overseas as well as leftover pills from people who have finished their own treatment, dispensing it free of charge to people who can show a prescription.
While Reuters was interviewing Boukhili, a woman arrived needing medicine for a thyroid problem. “I’ve been without this medicine for over a week,” said Najia Guadri, adding that she felt unable to function without it.
Sitting at his parents’ home in Tunis, Abdessalem Maraouni described how a lack of medicated eye drops has left him at risk of blindness and unable to go outside, forcing him to abandon his law studies at the university.
“This country can no longer provide even a box of medicine,” he lamented, sitting in the modest family home decorated with posters of his favorite football club but unable to see objects more than a few meters away.
The 25 year-old has not been able to find the medicine, or an alternative, for six months and has had to seek supplies from people traveling abroad, paying far more than he would from Tunisian pharmacies and rationing his use.
Maraouni’s father Kamal wept as he described how the state’s inability to import medicines had hit his son’s prospects.
“We don’t ask the state for money or grand places to live. We only ask for medicine. Is that too much?” he said.


UAE’s In-Country Value Projects Driving Billions to Local Firms

Updated 01 June 2023

UAE’s In-Country Value Projects Driving Billions to Local Firms

ABU DHABI: More than $27.23 billion has been redirected to the local economy since the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) and ADNOC launched major in-country value programs to support domestic industries.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230601005886/en/
Sideline of Make It In The Emirates Forum (Photo: AETOSWire)
Speaking at the Make in the Emirates Forum today, His Excellency Abdulla Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of MoIAT, said more than $14.43 billion of investment was redirected to the local economy last year alone, an increase of 25 percent year-on-year.
“The National In-Country Value Program is a nationwide program that speaks one language across many different sectors,” HE said. “It’s one methodology and this is something we’re very proud of because it benefits the private sector and when the private sector sees this it helps them prepare, invest, and spend.”
The forum heard how the National ICV Program is “functionating well and accelerating.”
The forum also heard how industrial zones are playing a critical role in the in the country’s sustainable industrial development and broader economic prospects. Local industrial leaders described how they are utilizing alternative energy resources such as solar and hydrogen to reduce their carbon footprint.
The second edition of the Make it in the Emirates Forum concluded on Thursday with the UAE showcasing its unique value proposition to international investors.
Investors were invited to explore opportunities and competitive advantages, with panel discussions focusing on the National In-Country Value (ICV) Program, the role of industrial zones, competitive financing as a key enabler and local talent in the private sector.
The UAE’s industrial exports reached $47.6 billion in 2022, growing 49 on 2021. The industrial sector’s contribution to GDP rose to $49.5 billion in 2022, a 38 percent increase on 2020.
The Make it in the Emirates Forum is organized by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology in partnership the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and ADNOC.
On the first day of the forum, the UAE government announced $2.7 billion in industrial offtake agreements, building on the $29.9 billion of offtake agreements announced at the 2022 edition of the forum.

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After 22 years in a coma, Israeli woman critically wounded in 2001 Jerusalem suicide bombing dies

Updated 01 June 2023

After 22 years in a coma, Israeli woman critically wounded in 2001 Jerusalem suicide bombing dies

  • Woman was 31 at the time and was dining with her 3-year-old daughter when the blast occurred

JERUSALEM: An Israeli woman critically wounded in a 2001 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem restaurant has died, an Israeli hospital said Thursday. Her death marks the sixteenth fatality from that attack.
Hana Nachenberg was 31 at the time and was dining with her 3-year-old daughter when the blast occurred, Israeli media reported. She was in a coma for nearly 22 years until she died on Wednesday, reports said. Her daughter was not hurt in the attack.
On Aug. 9, 2001, a Palestinian bomber walked into a Jerusalem pizzeria and blew himself up. The attack remains one of the most infamous in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it came at a time of surging violence between the sides during the second Palestinian intifada or uprising.
Aftershocks of the attack, which wounded dozens, still make news today. The family of an Israeli-American girl killed in the attack is waging a campaign to press Jordan, a close American ally, to send a woman convicted of aiding the attacker to the United States for trial.
Ahlam Tamimi was convicted of choosing the target and guiding the bomber there and was sentenced by Israel to 16 life sentences. Israel released her in a 2011 prisoner swap with the Hamas militant group and she was sent to Jordan, where she lives freely and has been a familiar face in the media.
The US has charged Tamimi with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against Americans. Her name was added to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists.


Blinken says US considering actions against Sudan leaders

Updated 01 June 2023

Blinken says US considering actions against Sudan leaders

  • Blinken did not spell out what actions Washington could take or whether it would personally target the heads of the army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces
  • He said the US would remain engaged and stopped short of blaming one side for violating the truce, after the army announced its withdrawal on Wednesday

OSLO: Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Thursday that the United States could take action against rival Sudanese leaders after the collapse of a US-brokered truce.
The United States is “looking at steps that we can take to make clear our views on any leaders who are moving Sudan in the wrong direction, including by perpetuating the violence and by violating cease-fires that they’ve actually committed to,” Blinken told reporters.
Blinken did not spell out what actions Washington could take or whether it would personally target the heads of the army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces or take a broader approach.
Blinken, who was in Oslo for NATO talks, said the United States would remain engaged and stopped short of blaming one side for violating the truce, after the army announced its withdrawal on Wednesday.
Blinken acknowledged wide violations of a series of cease-fires brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia between the army and the Rapid Support Forces.
“We did see the provision of humanitarian assistance going forward. But it has been incredibly imperfect and incredibly fragile,” Blinken said.
“Now we’re seeing actions — again, by both sides — in clear violation of the commitments they made,” he said.
A number of US lawmakers and activists have criticized President Joe Biden’s administration for not taking earlier action, including sanctions, against army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
US diplomats have argued that it was more useful to preserve relationships to negotiate between them.


18 dead in attack on Khartoum market after army abandons talks

Updated 01 June 2023

18 dead in attack on Khartoum market after army abandons talks

  • Khartoum and other parts of the country gripped by warfare between the army and the paramilitary forces
  • The army on Wednesday blasted RSF bases in Khartoum after pulling out of the talks

KHARTOUM: Shelling and aerial bombardments killed 18 civilians at a market in the capital of Sudan where fighting showed no signs of abating Thursday after the army abandoned truce talks.
For more than six weeks, Khartoum and other parts of the country have been gripped by bloody warfare between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
The army on Wednesday blasted RSF bases in Khartoum after pulling out of the talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, accusing its rival of violating a cease-fire that was meant to allow aid deliveries.
“Eighteen civilians were killed and 106 wounded” by army artillery fire and aerial bombardments Wednesday on a market in southern Khartoum, a committee of human rights lawyers said.
The toll was confirmed by a neighborhood group that organizes aid, which said the situation was “catastrophic” and appealed for help from doctors and for blood donations.
The United States said Thursday there had been “serious violations of the cease-fire by both sides” and warned it would only be ready to mediate between the warring parties when they get “serious.”
“Once the forces make clear by their actions that they are serious about complying with the cease-fire, the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are prepared to resume facilitation of the suspended discussions to find a negotiated solution to this conflict,” a State Department spokesperson said.
In both north and south Khartoum on Wednesday, troops loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan attacked key bases of the RSF led by commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, residents said.
One witness said there was “heavy artillery fire from army camps” in the capital’s north.
Another reported “artillery blasts on the RSF camp in Al-Salha” in southern Khartoum — the largest paramilitary base and arsenal in the city.
The attacks came two days after US and Saudi mediators said the two sides had agreed to extend by five days the initial week-long humanitarian truce.
Mediators admitted the truce had been “imperfectly observed,” but said the extension would “permit further humanitarian efforts.”
The army walked out “because the rebels have never implemented a single one of the provisions of a short-term cease-fire which required their withdrawal from hospitals and residential buildings,” a Sudanese government official said.
Despite repeated pledges from both sides, fighting has flared this week both in greater Khartoum and in the western region of Darfur.
“The army is ready to fight until victory,” Burhan declared during a visit to troops in the capital.
The RSF said they would “exercise their right to defend themselves” and accused the army of violating the truce.
Since fighting erupted on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
The UN says 1.2 million people have been internally displaced and more than 425,000 have fled abroad.
Yaqout Abderrahim escaped Khartoum for Port Sudan, where she has been waiting 15 days for a rare seat on a flight out.
“We want to leave at any price because our houses are destroyed and we no longer have any means to raise our children,” she said.
More than half the population — 25 million people — are now in need of aid and protection, the UN says.
Entire districts of Khartoum no longer have running water, electricity is only available for a few hours a week, and three quarters of hospitals in combat zones are not functioning.
Hundreds have been killed in Darfur, on Sudan’s western border with Chad, the United Nations said.
Darfur has never recovered from the years-long war that began in 2003 when a rebel uprising led strongman Omar Al-Bashir to unleash the Janjaweed militia, from which the RSF are descended.
Experts say Burhan is facing increasing pressure from his own Islamist supporters and remnants of the Bashir regime, with whom he had built a symbiotic relationship in order to gain power.