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



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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Ousted PM of S. Lanka reinstated!



Ammar Ahmed Khan

Sri Lanka’s president on Sunday reappointed as prime minister the same man he sacked from the job nearly two months ago, ending a messy power struggle that had paralyzed the island nation.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose shock dismissal in late October threw Sri Lanka into a constitutional crisis, was sworn in at a closed-door ceremony in the president’s office in Colombo.

The 69-year-old had refused to step aside since being dumped and replaced by controversial strongman Mahinda Rajapakse – leaving the country with two rival leaders and no functioning government.

The ousted premier had long asserted his dismissal was illegal, a view supported by Sri Lanka’s parliament which six times voted against Rajapakse’s claim to rule during tumultuous sessions that erupted into brawls.

The President, Maithripala Sirisena had refused to bow to pressure as the country drifted, declaring he would never reappoint Wickremesinghe and deriding his once-ally in public speeches as their alliance imploded.

The acrimony between the two was underscored Sunday when Sirisena barred journalists from attending the swearing-in ceremony — leaving it to Wickremesinghe’s legislators to announce the appointment.

“We thank the citizens of the country who fought the illegal seizure of power and ensured that democracy was restored,” his United National Party of Sri Lanka posted on Twitter.

On Wednesday, the legislature voted overwhelmingly to demand the reinstatement of Wickremesinghe.

Sirisena’s resistance became untenable after the country’s highest court last week ruled that he acted outside the constitution when he dissolved parliament in early November and called early elections.

The Supreme Court also confirmed that Rajapakse could not exercise the powers of a prime minister until he proved his legitimacy — which without enough support in parliament was impossible.

But on Saturday Rajapakse – who presided over the bloody end to Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009 – backed down from the post of prime minister, signaling the 51-day standoff had come to a bitter close.

The strongman, whose past administrations were accused of gross rights abuses and whose family still holds considerable sway in Sri Lanka, promised to make a comeback at local council elections.

“There is no doubt at all that the people who stood by us since 2015 will continue to support us in the future as well,” he said addressing his close associates.

“We will bring the forces opposed to the country down to their knees by organizing the people.” His aides said he was returning a fleet of limousines he had used since his disputed appointment.

The country has been heading for a government shutdown as parliament failed to approve spending for 2019, and credit rating agencies downgraded its debt amid fears of a sovereign default.

There were doubts about the country’s ability to repay $1.5 billion due to bondholders by January 10 without a legally constituted administration.

Some factions within Sri Lanka’s parliament have pushed for Sirisena to be investigated for orchestrating an alleged coup.

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Sh Rashid fears financial indiscipline under Shehbaz as PAC Chairman



LAHORE: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad here on Saturday expressed apprehension that the appointment of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif as Chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) would lead the country to financial indiscipline and economic chaos.

Addressing a press conference at Pakistan Railways (PR) headquarters, he said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was a broad-minded person who had agreed that the Opposition may make Shehbaz as Chairman PAC. Casting doubt on the credibility of Shehbaz Sharif, he said, “No leader in the PML-N was dishonest if its president Shehbaz Sharif is honest”. Regarding the issue of production order of PML-N MNA Saad Rafique, he said that his (Rashid) production orders had not been produced for three years when he was in jail in a fake case of possessing a gun.

To a question, he said that Saad was the son of a great man and he (Rashid) respected his father, but, adding that Saad was crying for money which he had looted. The Minister said the country would be purged of all plunderers and looters by March 2019. He criticized the media for presenting thieves and looters like heroes and urged the media to show their real faces. He said the railways during the last regime, just made procurement and no improvement had been brought in it. He said the government was bound to pay Rs 6 billion daily in the form of debts. To a question, he said that he never used derogatory language against the daughter or wife of Nawaz Sharif. The Minister said that with the passage of time, positive impacts of the governments would be before the people.

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Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism!



Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism

KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stressed for a joint strategy to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister was addressing a joint Presser along with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts after trilateral dialogue here today.  Shah Mehmood Qureishi held that only through collective efforts we can wipe out terrorism and achieve the objectives of peace and development.  Maintaining that we all want peace and stability in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister said Pakistan would benefit the most from the peace and stability of the neighboring country. 

He said Pakistan will extend cooperation to bring all the Afghan groups to the table of negotiations. He, however, said it is up to the Afghans themselves as to how they want to achieve the goal of peace.  Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said he is visiting Kabul to bridge the trust deficit. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressing the Media personnel held that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were friends of China and his country would extend every possible cooperation to build trust and confidence between the two countries. He said his country will also assist in establishing connectivity projects including a rail line between Peshawar-Kabul and Kandahar. The Chinese foreign minister said the Afghan reconciliation process can be taken forward by bringing the Taliban to the table of negotiations.

Salahuddin Rabbani, the Afghan Foreign Minister, said Pakistan has an important role for peace in Afghanistan.  He said peace in his country is vital for peace and security of the entire region. He said eradication of terrorism will pave the way for economic development and augmentation of employment opportunities. 

Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul today and discussed improvement in bilateral relations and important issues of mutual and regional interest. Foreign Minister on the occasion said trilateral dialogue forum will help promote connectivity as well as regional peace and stability. He expressed the hope that a stable Afghanistan will lead to the well-being of the whole region. Foreign Minister Qureshi congratulated Afghan President on making best arrangements for holding of trilateral dialogue. President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani thanked Shah Mehmood Qureshi for participating in the trilateral dialogue and his assurance of cooperation. 

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