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Netanyahu’s diplomacy works in Israel’s ties with Arab States

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suddenly turned into a diplomatic superstar saying that Israel is undergoing a “revolution” in its relations with Arab states in the region.

Speaking at a military graduate ceremony in the National Security College on Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said that Israel is witnessing a “revolution in relations with important Arab states”, adding the normalisation can, in its turn, push forward a peace deal with the Palestinians, Xinhua reported.

“The Arab countries realise now that Israel is not an enemy but an ally against the threat of Islamist extremism,” the prime minister said, according to a statement from his office.

He had also said that unlike the common view up until now, suggesting a peace deal with the Palestinians would advance normalisation with Arab states, the order can be reversed.

“We have always said that the moment we reach peace with the Palestinians, we will be able to achieve peaceful relations with the entire Arab world… but I have grown to think this process could also run in the opposite direction,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister had mentioned the close relationship Israel maintains with two of its neighboring Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

The international community had recently stepped up the pressure on Israel to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution. The last round of peace talks between the parties fell apart in April 2014 without results.

The pressure comes amid a 10-month-long wave of violence which had claimed the lives of 34 Israelis and 216 Palestinians.

France had introduced in January its plan to hold an international conference later this year in order to restart peace talks between the parties, with the assistance of the international community.

While Palestinians lauded the initiative, Israel rejected it. Israeli leaders claim international forums would allow Palestinians to refrain from direct talks with Israel.

Netanyahu and other officials have instead reiterated the importance of restarting the peace talks with the active help of Arab states in the region, with Egypt playing a prominent role.

In May, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said there’s a “real chance” to resume peace talks and achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, with the mediation of Arab countries. Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman repeatedly lauded the comments since.

Middle East

Italy backs stronger ties, enhanced dialogue with Qatar

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Rome, June 22 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi on Friday said that his country wanted to strengthen bilateral relations and to deepen dialogue with Qatar.

He was speaking at a meeting with his Qatar counterpart Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim al-Thani here.

“During cordial discussions, Minister Moavero Milanesi confirmed the Italian government’s commitment to intensifying political dialogue and bilateral relations in the economic and trade spheres as well as in terms of cultural cooperation,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.

The talks between Milanesi and al-Thani also covered key regional issues including turmoil-wracked Libya, the migration crisis and war-torn Syria, the statement said.

“A detailed exchange of views also took place on the Gulf diplomatic crisis in respect of which Minister Milanesi reiterated Italy’s support for a negotiated solution based on dialogue between the various sides,” the statement added.

Qatar has been locked in a bitter year-long rift with a Saudi-led alliance including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt which abruptly severed ties with Qatar in June last year, accusing it of supporting terrorism and of backing Iran.

Qatar claims the blockade is an attack on its sovereignty and punishment for pursuing an independent foreign policy. Diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and the US to end the rancorous dispute have so far stalled.

At a meeting in Brussels with al-Thani on Thursday, the European Union’s Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini underlined the bloc’s continued support for “an intra-Gulf mediated solution and Kuwait’s mediation in this regard,” the European Commission said in a statement.

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Gaza protests : 4 killed, 618 injured

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

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Gaza protests

Jerusalem, June 9 (IANS) Four Palestinian protesters were killed and 618 others wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border, officials said.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, said Zeyad al-Briem, 25, and Haytham al-Jammal, 15, were killed in east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, while Emad Darabieh, 26, was shot dead in east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Yousef al-Faseeh, 29, was killed in east of Gaza City, Xinhua reported.

Among the injured Palestinians, 117 were hit with live gunshots, 60 with tear gas inhalation, and 77 by bullets shrapnels or tear gas canisters, said al-Qedra.

The clashes, which broke out on Friday afternoon, were part of the 11th Friday “Great March of Return” held by Palestinians in Gaza since March 30. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed so far.

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The Palestinian organisers called the latest rally “the Friday of the One-million-men March for Jerusalem”.

Local media reported that thousands of Palestinian demonstrators joined the protests at five different spots in eastern Gaza.

Hundreds of kites carrying Molotov cocktails flown by demonstrators landed on Israeli agricultural fields and caused large fires.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The Ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

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Israel begins building marine barrier with Gaza

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

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Avigdor Liberman

Jerusalem, May 28 (IANS) Israel’s Defence Minister on Sunday announced that construction had begun on a marine barrier with the Gaza Strip extending into the Mediterranean Sea.

Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the barrier aimed to prevent any attempts by Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israeli territory through the sea, Efe news reported.

“This is an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing. We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel with might and sophistication,” Liberman said.

The barrier is to consist of three layers, one of which is to be underwater, and is expected to be completed within a year, the statement added.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, members of the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip, managed to swim to Israeli territory and launch an attack on a Israeli army installation before being killed.

Israeli authorities are also constructing an underground barrier beneath the Gaza-Israel boundary to stop Hamas from digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

An independent inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza by the UN Human Rights Council concluded that “the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF (Israeli army) positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”

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