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UN voices concern over Israel’s ‘discriminatory’ nationality law

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Israel continues to build settlements

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) 

 

 

 

 

 

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Europe

DG ISPR briefs British parliamentarians

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LONDON: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor here on Tuesday visited British  Parliament and briefed the parliamentarians about the Pakistan Army’s role in the war against terrorism.
He visited the British Parliament at the invitation of the parliamentarians of House of Commons and House of  Lords, a statement of Pakistan High Commission said.
The parliamentarians highly appreciated the role of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Syeeda Warsi were also present on the occasion.

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Europe

Salvini, Macron clash after France caught migrant dumping

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ROME: Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini hit out at President Emmanuel Macron after French police were caught committing the “unprecedented offense” of dumping migrants in Italian woods.
Salvini, also deputy prime minister and head of the anti-immigrant League party, on Monday, demanded a “clear response” after French authorities admitted to returning migrants to Italy in “error”.
A French police van was seen on Friday driving into Italy to return recently-arrived migrants to the town of Claviere.
“It was an error to enter Italian territory without the authorization of the Italian police,” said Cecile Bigot-Dekeyzer, the top official in the Hautes-Alpes region.
“The police had no right to enter Italian territory,” the prefect said.
An outraged Salvini batted away that explanation, while France said the incident should be “kept in perspective”.
“Abandoning migrants in an Italian wood can’t be just a mistake or an incident,” Salvini said on social media. “What happened in Claviere is an unprecedented offense towards our country.”
“Does Paris, which claims to be civil, find it normal to throw people into the woods?… We’re dealing with an international shame, and Mr. Macron can’t pretend he doesn’t know. We won’t accept any excuses,” Salvini wrote.
– ‘It was a mistake’ –
“Let’s keep this in perspective,” an official in the French president’s office told journalists on Tuesday.
“It was a mistake, the authorities have admitted that. There was an incursion, not planned or according to the procedure, into Italian territory, where two people were dropped off.”
Thousands of migrants are caught each year trying to enter France and returned to the Italian border. Last year AFP journalists saw French police dropping off migrants in front of Bardonecchia train station, in Italy.
A source close to Macron slammed Salvini’s “essentially individual political exploitation” of the incident.
Italian Prime Minister “Giuseppe Conte hasn’t turned this incident into proof of a crisis,” the French presidency said.
“We manage our shared border together and there are occasional small regrettable incidents on both sides.”
Relations between Rome and Paris have been increasingly tense in recent months, with Italy’s populist government accusing France and others of failing to share the burden of the 700,000 migrants and asylum seekers that have crossed the Mediterranean to come to Italy since 2013.
French police in March sparked outrage by carrying out identity checks at Bardonecchia station, with the Italian foreign ministry summoning the French ambassador to protest.
In June, Macron criticized Salvini for closing Italian ports to the Aquarius migrant rescue boat, prompting a fresh summoning of the ambassador.

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Pakistan

US announces sanctions on key Iranian paramilitary force

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WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department today slapped sanctions on an Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of businesses that were providing it financing, as part of Washington’s campaign of maximum economic pressure against Tehran.
In announcing the sanctions, Treasury said a network of more than 20 businesses known as the Bonyad Taavon Basij was financing the Basij Resistance Force, a component of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real-world humanitarian consequences,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Basij, a paramilitary force formed soon after the 1979 revolution, is one of the Iranian regime’s primary enforcers of internal security with branches in every province and city of Iran, according to the US Treasury.
The Bonyad Taavon Basij is said to provide the Basij militia social welfare services, including housing and financial support, and manages economic activities by funding small companies. “Bonyad Taavon Basij has expanded its reach into Iran’s economy by establishing several investment firms through its financial and investment offshoot Mehr Eqtesad Bank,” the Treasury statement said.
Among the other companies singled out was Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company (ITMC), the largest tractor manufacturer in the Middle East and North Africa which predates the Iranian revolution, that generates millions of dollars in profit for the investment firms that represent the Basij. Also targeted was Iran’s Zinc Mines Development Company, described as the country’s “preeminent, multibillion-dollar zinc and lead mining and processing holding company.”

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