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UN vote against Israeli settlements UN vote against Israeli settlements

Middle East

Arab League welcomes UN vote against Israeli settlements

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Cairo, Dec 24 : The Arab League welcomed in a statement on Saturday a UN Security Council resolution that demands immediate and complete halt of all Israeli settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories.

League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit congratulated the Palestinian people and government on the “pivotal” resolution that was endorsed by a large majority and after more than 35 years of attempts to issue a similar resolution.

“The resolution reflects massive international support for the historical struggle of the Palestinian people to get their legitimate rights, atop of which is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said the AL chief in the statement.

The resolution was endorsed on Friday by 14 out of the council’s 15 member states, while the US, Israel’s biggest ally, abstained but did not veto despite attempts of US President-elect Donald Trump.

Egypt tried to delay the whole vote on the resolution, which was seen as response to pressure from Trump, yet the Egyptian foreign ministry later explained that the requested delay was only meant to avoid the exercise of veto right against the resolution.

Aboul-Gheit expected the resolution to build momentum that would pressure Israel to abide by its content as well as other relevant international resolutions.

Earlier in December, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, initially approved a couple of controversial pro-settlement bills that are meant to retroactively legalise about 4,000 settlement homes as well as unauthorised Israeli outposts and to allow expropriation of more Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

Over 400,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and at least 200,000 others live in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital city of their future state.

Israel has always been blamed by the international community for the deadlock of the Middle East peace process due to its settlement expansion policy that was rejected even by its closest ally, the US.

France has been preparing for an international peace conference to be held in Paris, which was delayed from December to January, in an attempt to revive the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, yet the bid has officially been rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Aboul-Gheit said that the conference could serve as an important step toward reaching a comprehensive and just solution for the Palestinian issue.

Middle East

UN appeals for countries to take in 1,300 Libyan refugees

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Libyan refugees

The UN has appealed to countries worldwide to take in 1,300 mainly African refugees stranded in Libya. Many of them were mistreated while being detained appalling conditions.

Niger has agreed to temporarily host the most vulnerable of the evacuees, including unaccompanied children and single mothers, pending their processing and departure for resettlement, Reuters said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday that it “urgently requests 1,300 places for resettlement” to be made available by the end of March. The UNHCR intends to evacuate between 700 and 1,300 people from Libya to Niger by the end of January 2018.

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Middle East

‘Don’t buy from Arabs’, says Israeli Defense Minister

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Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called on his fellow citizens to boycott the Palestinian market of the Wadi Ara region of north-east Israel, after riots broke out there on Saturday over the American decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Three people were injured when protesters began hurling stones at a bus. “I am calling for a boycott of Wadi Ara. Don’t go there and don’t buy there. They need to understand that it is impossible to demonstrate with Hezbollah flags, Palestinian flags and pictures of [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah.

To accept billions from the National Insurance [Institute] and to also destroy us from within,” Haaretz quoted Lieberman telling Army Radio.

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Middle East

Hamas leader calls for ‘new intifada in the face of Israel’

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Ismail Haniyeh

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has called for a new uprising against Israel following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a speech in Gaza Thursday, Reuters reports.

Anti-US protests erupted almost immediately after Trump’s declaration Wednesday, with Palestinians first to take to the streets, calling for three days of rage against the move.

World leaders expressed serious concern over the decision and its potential to destabilize the region.

The decision has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked Trump, and said he be believes “many” other nations will follow suit in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pope Francis said he could not “remain silent” and spoke of his “great anxiety” surrounding the decision, while the EU voiced “serious concern.”

“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,”Francis said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

“Jerusalem is a unique city,” he added, “sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”

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