BEIJING: Sino-N.Korean Friendship Bridge will be closed during repairs on North Korean side.
This was stated here today by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson during a regular briefing: “The bridge will be closed temporarily because the DPRK (North Korean) side needs to carry out some repair and maintenance work,”
According to details workers would carry out repairs on North Korean side during closure that will take place within days.
Cynics go haywire wondering why the closure was announced following Air China’s suspension of flights between Beijing and N. Korea.
UN chief urges Israel, Palestinians to avoid ‘devastating conflict’
MANHATTAN: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Saturday on Israelis and Palestinians to avoid “another devastating conflict” after resurgent violence claimed five lives on Friday.
“I am gravely concerned over the dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that all sides urgently step back from the brink of another devastating conflict.” The recent violence in Gaza marks the most serious escalation between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war.
Four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier died in clashes Friday. More than 130 Palestinians have died so far during violent protests, and the Red Cross says more than 13,000 have been wounded.”I call on Hamas and other Palestinian militants to cease the launching of rockets and incendiary kites and provocations” along the fence separating Israel from Gaza, Guterres said. “And Israel must exercise restraint to avoid further inflaming the situation.”
He encouraged all parties to work with the UN to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, saying that it endangered lives on both sides while aggravating the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza. Diplomats at the UN said there had not yet been a call for an urgent Security Council meeting to find ways to lower tensions. A regular monthly meeting on the Middle East is on the council’s agenda for Tuesday.
A cease-fire with Israel, announced by Hamas, was generally being respected on Saturday. Egypt had brokered a cease-fire a week earlier.
UN voices concern over Israel’s ‘discriminatory’ nationality law
MANHATTAN: The United Nations has voiced concern over the passing by the Israeli Knesset of the so-called ‘nationality law’, which critics say discriminates against Arabs and other minorities in the Jewish state.
“We reaffirm the United Nations’ respect for the sovereignty of states to define their constitutional character while emphasizing the need for all states to adhere to universal human rights principles, including the protection of minority rights,” UN Spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.
“We reiterate that a negotiated two-State outcome of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in line with United Nations resolutions and previous agreements, is the only way to achieve enduring peace that resolves all permanent status issues and realizes the national aspirations of both peoples,” he said.
“We call once more on all parties to refrain from unilateral moves that undermine the two-State solution.” The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Thursday narrowly passed the controversial bill that defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. It states that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel.
The law also revokes Arabic of its status as an official language alongside Hebrew. Arabs comprise about 20 percent of Israel’s nine million population.
Amnesty International, a leading human rights organization called on the Israeli authorities to repeal the “discriminatory” law, which continues to bar family reunification for thousands of Palestinians.
Nearly 14 years after the law was adopted as a temporary order, the Israeli authorities can no longer continue to use security grounds to justify institutional racial discrimination, it said in a statement.
A relevant piece published earlier: Israel has taken no steps to cease settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory as demanded by a United Nations Security Council Resolution, a senior UN official has said.
“The need to reverse, or at the very least contain the impact of negative trends – especially illegal settlement activity, violence and incitement – is critical not only to preserve hope for a meaningful return to the negotiating table, but also to prevent the escalation of broader regional tensions,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, told the Security Council on Tuesday.
Mladenov presented to the 15-member body the sixth quarterly report on the implementation of Council resolution 2334, covering the period from 26 March to 12 June this year.
“As detailed in the report, no steps were taken during the reporting period to “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as demanded by the resolution, he said.
The July 2016 report of the Middle East Quartet “ comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union “ identified Israel’s settlement activity as one of the main obstacles to achieving a two-state solution, which is to establish a viable, sovereign Palestinian state that lives in peace and security with Israel.
In Tuesday’s briefing, Mladenov noted that some 3,500 housing units in settlements in what is known as “Area C” of the occupied West Bank had either been “advanced, approved or tendered.” One-third of those units are in settlements in outlying locations deep inside the West Bank.
Plans for 2,300 units were advanced in the approval process, while 300 units had reached the final approval stage. Tenders had gone out for about 900 units, he said. As in the previous period, no advancements, approvals or tenders were made in occupied East Jerusalem.
“I reiterate that all settlement activity is illegal under international law. It continues to undermine the practical prospects for establishing a viable Palestinian state and erodes remaining hopes for peace,” he said.
During the reporting period, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 84 Palestinian-owned structures, resulting in the displacement of 67 people and potentially affected the livelihoods of 4,500 others.
The reporting period was characterized by high levels of violence, including rocket attacks from Gaza, Mladenov said.
Since 30 March, during a series of protests in Gaza, 135 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists have acknowledged that a number of their members were among those killed. Two Israeli soldiers were also injured during the protests, with at least five others injured as a result of rockets and mortars launched from Gaza.
Under the cover of the protests, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militants engaged in violent and provocative acts, Mladenov said.
Hundreds approached and attempted to breach the fence, burned tires, threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli forces, launched incendiary kites and laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Palestinian protesters also damaged and looted equipment and installations on the Gaza side of the border at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
“I want to again reiterate the call of the Secretary-General on all to unequivocally condemn, in the strongest possible terms, all actions that have brought us to this dangerous place and led to the loss of so many lives in Gaza,” he said.(Published on 20th June 2018)
Irani knife-attacker on Germany bus arrested, nine injured
BERLIN: Nine people were injured Friday in an attack by a man wielding a knife on a bus in northern Germany, officials said Friday, although his motive remained unclear.
The packed bus was heading in the direction of Travemuende, a popular beach destination close to the city of Luebeck when a man pulled the weapon on passengers, Luebeck chief prosecutor Ulla Hingst said.
Regional interior minister for Schleswig-Holstein state, Hans-Joachim Grote, told news agency DPA that six people suffered knife wounds and three others different injuries, while the attacker also punched the bus driver.
“Luckily no-one was killed,” Hingst said.
“The background to the act as well as exactly how it happened are completely unclear and the objects of our investigation.”
The bus driver had immediately stopped the vehicle, allowing passengers to escape. “The passengers jumped out of the bus and were screaming. It was terrible. Then the injured were brought out. The perpetrator had a kitchen knife,” a witness who lives close to the scene, Lothar H., told local daily Luebecker Nachrichten.
An unnamed female passenger on the bus said one of those injured had only just given up his seat to an elderly woman, “when the perpetrator stabbed him in the chest.”
A police car which happened to be close by arrived at the scene quickly, allowing officers to detain the assailant, the newspaper reported.
Prosecutor Hingst told mass-market daily BILD that the suspected attacker is “a 34-year-old German citizen”.
Police from Schleswig-Holstein said on Twitter that “people were injured. No one was killed. The perpetrator was overpowered and is now in police custody.”