UK foreign secretary Cameron hosts Arab, Islamic ministers to discuss Israel-Hamas conflict

1 / 4
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron greets the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, Ayman Safadi, as he welcomes Arab and Islamic counterparts to Lancaster House in London on Nov. 22, 2023. (Reuters)
2 / 4
Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Palestine’s Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki pose for a photograph ahead of a meeting of Arab and Islamic Leaders, at Lancaster House in London on Nov. 22, 2023. (AFP)
3 / 4
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron greets the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, as he welcomes Arab and Islamic counterparts to Lancaster House in London on Nov. 22, 2023. (Reuters)
4 / 4
Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron and his counterparts from Arab and Islamic countries in London ahead of a meeting at Lancaster House in London on Nov. 22, 2023. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 22 November 2023
Follow

UK foreign secretary Cameron hosts Arab, Islamic ministers to discuss Israel-Hamas conflict

  • UK foreign secretary Cameron hosts Arab, Islamic ministers to discuss Israel-Hamas conflict
  • Pledges support to prevent regional escalation, including in Lebanon and Yemen

LONDON: UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Wednesday met with foreign ministers from Arab and Islamic countries in London to discuss cooperation on the crisis in Israel and Gaza, how to secure the release of all hostages, increase the amount of aid into Gaza, and reach a long-term political solution to the crisis.

The ministerial committee mandated by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit was headed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and included his counterparts from Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Turkiye, Indonesia and Nigeria, as well as Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

UK Minister of State for Foreign Commonwealth and Development Affairs for Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the United Nations at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Lord Ahmad also attended the talks.

The visit followed an agreement reached overnight between Israel and Hamas on coordinated hostage releases and a pause in the fighting, the UK’s FCDO said in a statement.

Cameron emphasised the importance of allowing humanitarian organizations to bring in more fuel so they can carry out lifesaving work unimpeded, including powering hospitals or desalination plants, which supply 80 percent of Gaza’s water.

“The foreign secretary discussed with leaders at the meeting how to reinvigorate diplomatic efforts toward a viable two-state solution, which provides security for both Israelis and Palestinians, and restated the UK’s condemnation of the rise in settler violence in the West Bank,” the FCDO said.

“He committed to continued UK support to prevent wider regional escalation, including in Lebanon and Yemen,” it added.

Cameron said: “Today I have chaired a meeting of leaders from Arab countries and other Islamic states on the situation in Israel and Gaza.

“The agreement reached last night is an important opportunity to get the hostages out and more aid into Gaza to help the Palestinian people.

“We discussed how to use this step forward to think about the future and how we can build a peaceful future which provides security for Israel but also peace and stability for the Palestinian people.”

The meeting welcomed the joint mediation efforts of Egypt, Qatar, and the US, which resulted in the truce, the timing of which will be announced within 24 hours and is extendable, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ministerial committee stressed the importance of the members of the Security Council and the international community taking effective and urgent measures for a complete cease-fire in the Palestinian enclave, saying that this is a priority for all Arab and Islamic countries.

Members of the committee called on Britain to play a balanced role consistent with international law and international humanitarian law to reach an immediate cease-fire and implement all relevant international resolutions, SPA said.

The meeting discussed the need to revive the peace process, and the Arab and Islamic officials stressed the importance of ensuring a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, through the implementation of international resolutions related to the two-state solution, and enabling the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“The members of the ministerial committee called on the international community to assume its responsibility by rejecting all forms of selectivity in the application of international legal and moral standards, and condoning the heinous crimes committed by the occupation forces and settler militias against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” SPA reported.

The delegation, which was formed as a “Peace Committee” at the Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit, held in Riyadh on Nov. 11, is visiting the capitals of UN Security Council permanent members, arriving in London after meetings in Beijing and Moscow, and with further trips planned to Paris and Washington.

The UK has helped lead the international response to the humanitarian crisis by recently announcing £30 million ($37.4 million) in additional aid to the Palestinian territories, more than doubling the aid commitment for this year, the FCDO said.


US says a UN agency has agreed to help in distribution of aid to Gaza via sea route

Updated 9 sec ago
Follow

US says a UN agency has agreed to help in distribution of aid to Gaza via sea route

  • US officials say they were working with WFP on how to deliver the aid to Palestinian civilians “in an independent, neutral, and impartial manner”
  • The NGO group World Central Kitchen stopped its aid distribution work after an Israeli attack killed seven aid workers on April 1

WASHINGTON: The UN World Food Program has agreed to help deliver aid for the starving civilians of Gaza once the US military completes a pier for transporting the humanitarian assistance by sea, US officials said Friday.

The involvement of the UN agency could help resolve one of the major obstacles facing the US-planned project — the reluctance of aid groups to handle on-the-ground distribution of food and other badly needed goods in Gaza absent significant changes by Israel.
An Israeli military attack April 1 that killed seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen intensified international criticism of Israel for failing to provide security for humanitarian workers or allow adequate amounts of aid across its land borders.
President Joe Biden, himself facing criticism over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza while supporting Israel’s military campaign against Hamas, announced March 8 that the US military would build the temporary pier and causeway, as an alternative to the land routes.
The US Agency for International Development confirmed to The Associated Press that it would partner with the WFP on delivering humanitarian assistance to Gaza via the maritime corridor.
“This is a complex operation that requires coordination between many partners, and our conversations are ongoing. Throughout Gaza, the safety and security of humanitarian actors is critical to the delivery of assistance, and we continue to advocate for measures that will give humanitarians greater assurances,” USAID said in its statement to the AP.
US and WFP officials were working on how to deliver the aid to Palestinian civilians “in an independent, neutral, and impartial manner,” the agency said.
There was no immediate comment from the WFP, and an WFP spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
Israel promised to open more border crossings into Gaza and increase the flow of aid after its drone strikes killed the seven aid workers, who were delivering food into the Palestinian territory.

The war was sparked when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 250 others hostage. The Israeli offensive in Gaza, aimed at destroying Hamas, has caused widespread devastation and killed over 33,800 people, according to local health officials. Hundreds of UN and other humanitarian workers are among those killed by Israeli strikes.
International officials say famine is imminent in northern Gaza, where 70 percent of people are experiencing catastrophic hunger.
The US military will be constructing what’s known as a modular causeway as part of the maritime route, in hopes that handling the inspection and processing of the aid offshore will speed the distribution to Gaza’s people.
Offshore, the Army will build a large floating platform where ships can unload pallets of aid. Then the aid will be transferred by Army boats to a motorized string of steel pier or causeway sections that will be anchored to the shore.
Several Army vessels and Miliary Sealift Command ships are already in the Mediterranean Sea, and are working to prepare and build the platform and pier.
That pier is expected to be as much as 1,800 feet (550 meters) long, with two lanes, and the Pentagon has said it could accommodate the delivery of more than 2 million meals a day for Gaza residents.
Army Col. Sam Miller, commander of the 7th Transportation Brigade, which is in charge of building the pier, said about 500 of his soldiers will participate in the mission. All together, Pentagon officials have said about 1,000 US troops will be involved.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters this week that the US in on track to have the system in place by the end of the month or early May. The actual construction of the pier had been on hold as US and international officials hammered out agreements for the collection and distribution of the aid.
He said the US has been making progress, and that Israel has agreed to provide security on the shore. The White House has made clear that there will be no US troops on the ground in Gaza, so while they will be constructing elements of the pier they will not transport aid onto the shore.
US Navy ships and the Army vessels will provide security for US forces building the pier.


Hamas chief Haniyeh arrives in Turkiye for talks

Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Hamas chief Haniyeh arrives in Turkiye for talks

  • Fidan said he spoke with Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar, about how Hamas — designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union — “must clearly express its expectations, especially about a two-state solution”

ISTANBUL: A leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Istanbul Friday evening for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the death toll in Gaza passed 34,000.
A statement from Hamas Friday said Erdogan and Haniyeh would discuss the conflict in Gaza, adding that the head of the group’s political bureau was accompanied by a delegation.
Middle East tensions are at a high after Israel’s reported attack on Iran and Gaza bracing for a new Israeli offensive.
Erdogan insisted on Wednesday that he would continue “to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people.”
But talking to journalists on Friday, he refused to be drawn on the details on the meeting.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was in Qatar Wednesday and said he spent three hours with Haniyeh and his aides for “a wide exchange of views in particular about negotiations for a ceasefire.”
Qatar, a mediator between Israel and Hamas, acknowledged Wednesday that negotiations to end hostilities in Gaza and liberate hostages were “stalling.”
Fidan said he spoke with Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar, about how Hamas — designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union — “must clearly express its expectations, especially about a two-state solution.”
Erdogan’s last meeting with Haniyeh was in July 2023 when Erdogan hosted him and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at the presidential palace in Ankara. Haniyeh had last met Fidan in Turkiye on January 2.
The war in Gaza started after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.
Militants also took about 250 hostages. Israel says around 129 are believed to be held in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.
Israel’s retaliatory military campaign has killed at least 34,012 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
 

 


Huge blast at military base used by Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, sources say

Shiite fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces advance towards the city of Tal Afar, Iraq. (AFP file photo)
Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Huge blast at military base used by Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, sources say

  • PMF sources said the strikes targeted a headquarters of the PMF at the Kalso military base near the town of Iskandariya around 50 km south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD: A huge blast rocked a military base used by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to the south of Baghdad late on Friday, two PMF and two security sources told Reuters.
The two security sources said the blast was a result of an unknown airstrike, which happened around midnight Friday.
The two PMF sources pointed out the strikes did not lead to casualties but caused material damage.
PMF sources said the strikes targeted a headquarters of the PMF at the Kalso military base near the town of Iskandariya around 50 km south of Baghdad.
Government officials did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The PMF started out as a grouping of armed factions, many close to Iran, that was later recognized as a formal security force by Iraqi authorities.
Factions within the PMF took part in months of rocket and drone attacks on US forces in Iraq amid Israel’s Gaza campaign but ceased to do so in February.

 


Leaders of Jordan and Pakistan call UAE president to express concern about effects of severe storm

Updated 19 April 2024
Follow

Leaders of Jordan and Pakistan call UAE president to express concern about effects of severe storm

  • Leaders passed on their best wishes to the country as it recovers from the storms

DUBAI: The president of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received telephone calls from King Abdullah of Jordan and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday, during which they expressed concern about the effects of the severe weather, including unusually heavy rainfall, that battered parts of the country this week.

They also passed on their best wishes to the country as it recovers from the storms and “conveyed their heartfelt hopes for the safety and prosperity of the UAE and its people, praying for their protection from any harm,” the Emirates News Agency reported.

Sheikh Mohammed thanked both leaders for their warm sentiments, and emphasized the strong bonds between the UAE and their nations.

The UAE and neighboring Oman were hit by unprecedented rainfall and flooding on Tuesday, with more than 250 millimeters of rain falling in parts of the Emirates, considerably more than is normally seen in a year. Dubai International Airport was forced to close temporarily when runways were flooded.
 


Peshmerga fighter dies in Turkish strike in north Iraq

Updated 19 April 2024
Follow

Peshmerga fighter dies in Turkish strike in north Iraq

JEDDAH: A member of the Kurdish Peshmerga security forces was killed on Friday in a Turkish drone strike in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

Ankara regularly carries out ground and air operations in the region against positions of the outlawed PKK, the Kurdish separatist group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.
The victim of Friday’s attack died in a drone strike on his vehicle, said Ihsan Chalabi, mayor of the mountainous Sidakan district near Iraq’s borders with Turkiye and Iran.
For decades, Turkiye has operated several dozen military bases in northern Iraq in its war against the PKK, which Ankara and its Western allies consider a terrorist group.
Both Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government have been accused of tolerating Turkiye’s military activities to preserve their close economic ties.
At the beginning of April, a man described as “high-ranking military official” from the PKK was killed in a Turkish drone strike on a car in the mountainous Sinjar region, according to the Kurdistan counterterrorism services.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Baghdad on Monday on his first official visit to Iraq since 2011.
Iraq’s Defense Minister Thabet Al-Abassi in March ruled out joint military operations against the PKK, but said that Turkiye and Iraq would “work to set up a joint intelligence coordination center.”