The truly frightening thing about Nikki Haley’s big revelation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The truly frightening thing about Nikki Haley’s big revelation

(CNN)In her forthcoming book about her time in the Trump White House, former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley claims that she was recruited by White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to subvert the wishes of President Donald Trump.

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” writes Haley in “With All Due Respect,” which is out on Tuesday. (The Washington Post obtained an early copy.)
 

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In the wake of that revelation, much has been made — by Haley — of the fact that she resisted those entreaties. “It should have been, go tell the President what your differences are and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing,” Haley told CBS over the weekend. “To undermine a President is really a very dangerous thing. And it goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want. It was offensive.”
But the focus on Haley — and what she did or didn’t do — misses the point, which is this: Two of the top Cabinet officials within the Trump administration were concerned enough about the behavior of the President of the United States that they were actively reaching out to other influential members of the Cabinet to actively work around him.
That is a VERY big deal. Especially when you consider how Tillerson and Kelly came into their jobs.
The former was the head of Exxon, a massive, multinational company. Trump touted Tillerson as the crown jewel of his Cabinet — a hugely successful and accomplished businessman that only this President could recruit to work for the government.
The latter was a hugely accomplished general who led Southern Command among other gigs in a lifetime spent in the military.
It was these resumes that drew Trump to them. Of all his Cabinet officials, he bragged on these two the most in the early days of his White House. Of Tillerson, Trump said: “He’s a world-class player. He’s in charge of an oil company that’s pretty much double the size of its next nearest competitor.” He so valued Kelly that he when the chief of staff job opened, Trump moved the general from his post as head of the Department of Homeland Security to the vacant job.
Neither of these men were “never Trumpers.” Both were Trump’s top picks for hugely important jobs — perhaps the two most powerful Cabinet gigs — and, at least in the early days of Trump’s presidency, were considered prime time players. These were the people who, along with Trump, were going to shape the future of the country and the world.
Neither Tillerson nor Kelly can be accurately described as so-called “deep state” actors either. Both men were new to this level of government. They were the farthest thing from embedded within the vast government bureaucracy. And not to sound like a broken record, but Trump appointed both of them!
So consider what it means that within a relatively short period of time, not only had both men identified major concerns with the President, but were so concerned that they were reaching out to others within the administration to try recruit them to a protect-the-country-at-all-costs mission.
You can absolutely question — as Haley has done — why Tillerson and Kelly didn’t just resign rather than trying to run a persuasion campaign within the White House to sideline the President. (My guess would be that they would say they were worried what might happen if they left.)
But what, to me, is the most important part of the story is that both of these hugely accomplished Cabinet officials, who were hand-picked for their roles by the President and who, presumably, came into the administration favorably inclined to him, so quickly and clearly assessed that the man they were working for was an active danger to the country.
And such a danger that they were in the process of actively recruiting people within the administration to help them keep the President from doing anything that would endanger the country.
Think about that. It’s terrifying.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly identify that former White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were the two officials whom Nikki Haley alleges tried to recruit her to subvert Trump’s wishes. The story has been updated to correctly reference Kelly throughout.

Saudi: With Little Progress on ‘Safe Zone,’ Erdogan Says Turkey to Act Alone in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

With Little Progress on ‘Safe Zone,’ Erdogan Says Turkey to Act Alone in N. Syria

Tuesday, 1 October, 2019 – 11:30
FILE PHOTO: An internally displaced woman sits outside a tent in Idlib province, Syria July 30, 2018. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Tuesday that his country had no choice but to act alone in northern Syria after a deadline to jointly establish a “safe zone” with the United States in the area by the end of September passed.

“We have not achieved any of the results we desired in the east of the Euphrates. Turkey cannot lose even a single day on this issue. There is no other choice but to act on our own,” Erdogan said at the parliament’s opening ceremony in Ankara.

“We plan to settle two million people in the safe zones we will establish. We calculated the costs and we will carry out efforts to improve. We will start taking steps as soon as the region is saved from the invasion of terror,” he said.

Erdogan told the United Nations last week he wanted to set up the zone along 480 km of border and reaching 30 km inside Syria. Under the Turkish plan, up to 2 million Syrian refugees would be settled in the safe zone, with international support.

If implemented, the project could halve the number of Syrian refugees sheltering in Turkey from Syria’s eight-year conflict, and drive the Syrian Kurdish YPG – which Ankara says is a terrorist group threatening its security – from the border, Reuters said.

While diplomats, analysts and Turkey’s main opposition say Ankara would be unwilling to anger Washington with a military incursion as the allies try to repair strained ties, Erdogan’s comments on Tuesday marked the clearest indication of an offensive in the region.

He added that Turkey aimed to host an “international donors meeting” to get funding for its plans in the area, which he said would stretch from the Euphrates river in Syria east to the Iraqi border.

Erdogan has repeatedly called on Turkey’s allies to provide financial support for the plans, including in his speech at the United Nations last month. But Ankara is unlikely to receive a response for any plan that settles people hundreds of kilometers from their homes and alters the demographics of northeast Syria.

The United States agreed to the safe zone as a way to protect its Kurdish allies in Syria and address Turkish concerns about the border, after President Donald Trump announced plans last year to abruptly withdraw 2,000 US special forces troops that helped Kurdish fighters battle ISIS.

But the US troops have yet to leave and Washington and Ankara have so far failed to agree on details. Turkey has accused the United States of dragging its feet and warned that it would take matters into its own hands.

Turkey has already launched two military incursions into northern Syria in the last three years and has stationed troops into the opposition-held Idlib region. It says preparations for another operation are complete.

Brazil: Bolsonaro intends to attack Venezuela, Cuba and Macron in UN speech

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS OUTLET)

 

Bolsonaro intends to attack Venezuela, Cuba and Macron in UN speech

Even at the risk of being protested internationally during his trip to the United Nations over anti-civilian stances and the destruction of the Amazon, Jair Bolsonaro decided to go to the opening of the UN General Assembly. His speech will be aligned with Donald Trump’s policy, with attacks on Venezuela, Cuba and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron.

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro (Photo: REUTERS / Adriano Machado)

247 – Jair Bolsonaro has even decided to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, where he will address the opening day of the event, exposing Brazil to unprecedented shame, as even diplomatic representatives are considering protesting against its policies. and their anti-civilization postures. The speech will be fully in line with Donald Trump’s interests and will have criticism of Cuba, Venezuela and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron – one of the US interests in South America is undermining the agreement to build nuclear submarines in partnership with France. , in Brazil.

“The speech that President Jair Bolsonaro prepares for the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, on the 24th in New York, will have harsh criticism of the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and Cuba as one of the main points of his speech. Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon, in a response to French President Emmanuel Macron, should also be included in the text, which is in the final stages of adjustment, “said Jussara Soares and Daniel Guilino, in a report published in Globo.

“He will present our country and our potential and will clarify once and for all these issues Brazil versus the environment. How much Brazil defends the environment and has been doing, since now, a sustaining process often unknown, either because of ignorance of the person or not wanting to disclose what Brazil has been doing in terms of protection, “said spokesman Octavio Rêgo Barros.

Brazil: Bolsonaro must even flee UN General Assembly

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRAZILIAN NEWS AGENCY 247)

(THIS SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE, HE IS A HABITUAL LIAR AND COWARD JUST LIKE HIS IDOL, TRUMP!) (oldpoet56)

Bolsonaro must even flee UN General Assembly

Jair Bolsonaro, who previously said he would “even on a stretcher” at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, must remain in Brazil, claiming health care. Advisers say he would be the object of protests over the destruction of the Amazon. Another fact that motivates manifestations against him are his public praise for dictators and his postures against the most elementary principles of civilization.

(Photo: ADRIANO MACHADO – REUTERS)

247 – Jair Bolsonaro is expected to flee the opening of the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, although he said he would “go wheelchair-wise.” “Members of Planalto Palace already admit that the chief executive may not attend the event next week in New York, United States. Officially, the alleged reasons are only medical restrictions. Bolsonaro recovers from surgery to correct a hernia However, even before the medical procedure, some advisers privately assess that, after controversies involving the burning of the Amazon rain forest, there is also a political risk for the possibility of protests, “said journalists Jussara Soares and Gustavo. Maia, in a report published in Globo.

“Among the president’s aides and family members, there is disagreement about whether or not to go to the UN. The medical team that performed the last surgery and people close to Bolsonaro recommend that he not travel to preserve himself. Interlocutors told the report that the first Michelle Bolsonaro tries to convince her husband to cancel the trip. Another group argues that the moment is crucial for the Bolsonaro government to stand before the international community and make a public defense of the sovereignty of the Amazon, “says the report, without paying attention. to the fact that Bolsonaro intends to open the Amazon for commercial exploitation by Donald Trump.

Another fact that motivates manifestations against him are his public praise for dictators and his postures contrary to the most elementary principles of civilization. According to Ambassador Rubens Ricupero, Bolsonaro is an unrepresentable figure in the world.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

(This article is courtesy of India’s Hindustan Times)

 

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

INDIA Updated: Sep 14, 2019 14:20 I ST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.(AP)

With Pakistan getting no traction for its efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at least four times at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Islamabad is at its wit’s end about forcing an urgent debate or introducing a resolution at the session in Geneva.

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

Pakistan, as a coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a joint statement that claimed all 58 members were supporting Islamabad and standing against New Delhi for revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. While OIC members haven’t castigated the coordinator for issuing a statement on their behalf or challenged the document, an influential section of the grouping has made it privately known to Indian counterparts that it has little to do with the statement.

WATCH | Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?

Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?
“Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue again, this time at the UNHRC will come to a naught,” opines Hindustan Times’ Executive Editor Shishir Gupta in HT Conversations.
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To date, Pakistan has not named the 58 countries, apart from China and other Arab non-members, who are backing the statement on the changes in Kashmir and alleged human rights violations.

“The fact that Pakistan, despite raking up the issue four or five times in Geneva, has got no overt support in the UNHRC shows that the council has no appetite to discuss Kashmir,” said a top UN diplomat.

“I would say a debate over the issue without any outcome is possible as European nations are silent on the issue and feel there is no harm in debating Kashmir. However, the possibility of Pakistan forcing a resolution in Geneva is very unlikely,” the diplomat added.

Apart from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua’s statements, Islamabad has made two “right of reply” interventions on the Kashmir issue since the council’s session began on September 9.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support. It is understood Pakistan had got support on the Kashmir issue from a 22-member Arab group, though only a couple of them are members of the UNHRC.

Pakistan has so far not moved the UNHRC for an urgent debate and Indian diplomats are keeping their powder dry to scuttle any such move. Ajay Bisaria, who was till recent India’s envoy to Islamabad and was sent to Geneva to help counter Pakistan’s efforts, will stay on till the UNHRC session ends on September 27, people familiar with developments said.

“If the statements by Pakistan on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir have no support from UNHRC members, it will be very difficult for Pakistan to muster the numbers to force a debate, what to talk of a resolution in Geneva,” said a senior diplomat.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 00:56 IST

Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors to Tourists by End of 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors to Tourists by End of 2019

Thursday, 12 September, 2019 – 08:45
Visitors walk outside the tombs at the Madain Saleh antiquities site, al-Ula, Saudi Arabia February 10, 2019. Picture taken February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Kalin
Saint Petersburg – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia will open its doors to tourists from around the world by the end of 2019, the head of the Saudi Tourism and Heritage Authority, Ahmad al-Khatib, said on Wednesday.

Khatib made the announcement during his speech at the meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on September 9-13.

The Organization’s secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, praised the ambitious plan led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to place the Kingdom at the forefront of global tourism destinations.

In March, UNWTO’s general assembly approved Saudi Arabia’s membership in the executive council of the Organization for the Middle East region for the third time in a row. The Kingdom has retained its seats in the Tourism Statistics Committee and the Program and Budget Committee, and also joined the Executive Committee’s Membership Review Committee.

Saudi Arabia has provided some USD1.7 million to fund cooperation with the international organization, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“Saudi Arabia is proud to be one of the first countries to work with the organization in the preliminary studies for the Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) project,” Khatib said in his speech.

The head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage also announced ongoing cooperation with UNWTO for the preparation of a strategy for the development of human capital in tourism, and the establishment of a tourism academy.

He noted that his country has invited the Executive Council to meet in Saudi Arabia in 2020.

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

INDIA Updated: Sep 08, 2019 09:03 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Singapore
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

With a crucial UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session beginning on Monday, New Delhi’s aim is to ensure that Pakistan does not secure any outcome on Kashmir. Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi personally leads the charge against India in Geneva from September 9 to 12.

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

According to diplomats and security officials based here, Geneva and New Delhi, while foreign minister S Jaishankar has personally contacted or visited each and every member of the 47-member UNHRC, national security adviser Ajit Doval has managed the internal situation in Kashmir. The government will stress the fact that not a single life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces. The vital political aspect of Kashmir is being handled by home minister Amit Shah.

The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.

Also Watch | Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move

 

Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move
Hindustan Times’ executive editor Shishir Gupta explains how the trio of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval orchestrated the move to bring about this landmark decision on Kashmir of revoking the contentious Article 370.
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According to diplomats, Pakistan will first assess the situation before it either calls for an urgent debate or resolution at the UNHRC. If Pakistan moves for an urgent debate by writing a letter to the UNHRC president, then the matter will be put to a simple majority vote with absentees or abstentions not being counted. The other option for Pakistan is to move a resolution citing alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, but this will also be put to vote. However, the matter is tedious as China and the UK (in the first round) took Pakistan’s side on August 16 at the UNSC. The eventual result, though was a knockout totally in favour of India with the US, France and Russia against the outcome.

Since the August 5-6 resolutions and laws that scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Jaishankar has been on the move, travelling to China, Indonesia, the Maldives, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Hungary explaining the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir. He has engaged Indian Ocean rim countries and others including South Africa, Fiji, Australia and the Philippines over the phone to defeat Pakistani designs. He is currently in Singapore working away the phones as he has been tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince UNHRC members that Kashmir is an internal matter of India.

On Friday, speaking at the HT-MintAsia summit in Singapore, Jaishankar said most countries accepted that the Indian move to nullify Article 370 was an internal issue. “They think it’s an Indian issue. They are aware, in part from the reactions, that Pakistan is saying some pretty strong things about it. The general sentiment is that if there are issues at all, India and Pakistan should sit down and sort it out,” the minister said.

Doval bears the onerous task of handling the internal security situation in Kashmir and ensure that innocents are not used as cannon fodder by Rawalpindi general headquarters (GHQ) to project alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. Interacting with reporters in Delhi, Doval made it clear that more than 230 jihadists were waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate India and spread mayhem in the Valley at the behest of their Pakistani handlers.

Reeling out the figures, Doval, who handled the J&K internal security on the ground till August 15, said that contrary to some reports, medical services in the region haven’t been hit: at least 400,000 people have been treated, 35,000 admitted and 11,000 operated upon for a variety of ailments since August 5, he explained. He said all landline connectivity has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir with some amount of mobile connectivity in Jammu, Ladakh and two districts ( Kupwara and Handwara) in Kashmir. Internet kiosks have been opened in all 10 districts of Kashmir with a minimum five terminals apart from 12 counters with internet access also available at the tourist reception centre in Srinagar. There are eight internet terminals working at the media centre in Srinagar.

According to the NSA, restrictions on movement have been lifted from 92% of the state and are in place now in only 11 out of 199 police station areas in the region. More than 1.67 metric tons of apples have been transported and ~98 crores disbursed through ATMs in the state to date, he added, listing two other issues that have been highlighted — the status of the apple trade and the availability of cash. Schools too are open, he told reporters.

However, Doval added that Indian agencies have intercepted messages that point to efforts to disrupt the movement of the trucks carrying apples. This is the peak apple season and the trade in Kashmir is worth around Rs 15,000 crore a year.

First Published: Sep 08, 2019 05:38 IST

In first, UN panel calls on Palestinians to halt hate speech against Israelis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In first, UN panel calls on Palestinians to halt hate speech against Israelis

United Nations anti-racism committee urges ‘State of Palestine’ to combat anti-Semitism, end incitement and better protect journalists, dissidents

File: The 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Don Emmert)

File: The 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Don Emmert)

The United Nation’s anti-racism committee criticized Palestinian authorities in a Thursday report, calling on the “State of Palestine” to act against “racist hate speech and hate crimes,” including incitement to violence against Israelis and Jews.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in a report on the Palestinians said it was concerned about “hate speech in certain media outlets, especially those controlled by Hamas, social media, public officials’ statements and school curricula and textbooks, which fuels hatred and may incite violence, particularly hate speech against Israelis, which at times also fuels antisemitism.”

The report marked the first time the panel had criticized Palestinian officials, according to UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization that addressed the session leading to the report.

The committee called on Ramallah to better protect journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents; to act against incitement to violence by public figures, politicians and media officials; and to remove inflammatory and discriminatory images and text from school curricula and textbooks.

An image of a girl smiling as “heretics” are burned in a Palestinian textbook. (IMPACT-se)

The panel also recommended that Palestinian officials ensure that minorities enjoyed full rights and public services, especially Bedouins, and that minorities found adequate representation in politics.

Near the top of the report, titled “Concluding observations on the combined initial and second periodic reports of the State of Palestine,” the committee said that Israel’s presence in the West Bank, its settlements and its blockade of Gaza posed “severe challenges for the State party in fully implementing its obligations under the Convention.”

At the committee’s 99th session, held earlier this month, during a review of the “State of Palestine,” some delegates referred to examples of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish content in Palestinian textbooks and state-owned media outlets.

“What happened this week was unprecedented,” Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, said after the session. “Since 1974 when Yasser Arafat and the PLO were welcomed into the United Nations, this is the first time that the world body’s spotlight was officially placed on Palestinian racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism.”

One member of the committee, Brazil’s Deputy Special Secretary for Human Rights, Silvio Albuquerque, asked the Palestinian representatives about “the presence of anti-Semitic and discriminatory contents in textbooks used by children and teenagers in Palestinian schools,” according to a press released issued by NGO Monitor, an Israel-based nonprofit.

Citing information he received from pro-Israel groups at the sidelines of the session, Albuquerque said he was shown “various examples of allegedly racist and anti-Semitic language, content and textbooks.”

Other committee members also asked the Palestinian delegation to respond to similar allegations. The Palestinian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs Ammar Hijazi, deflected critical questions, asserting Ramallah’s opposition to racial discrimination.

“The important point is that in the UN, the Palestinians are being forced to deal with their own anti-Semitism, including in their textbooks,” said NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg, an Israeli political science professor who addressed this week’s review session.

As opposed to the “usual procedures in the [UN] Human Rights Council,” he added, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination listened to the presentations of pro-Israel groups and used the arguments made to challenge the Palestinians. “This is a major precedent.”

The “State of Palestine” joined the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2004. But although states must file reports on their implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination one year after acceding, and then every two years, the Palestinians submitted their first report only in March 2019.

The 62-page document basically clears the Palestinians of any wrongdoing, while repeatedly accusing Israel of the worst offenses.

“The State of Palestine opposes racism and racial discrimination in all its forms,” it states. At the same time, it claims that leading decision-makers in the “occupation authority” — Israel — “incite racial discrimination and violence against Palestinians without being held to account for their words and deeds.”

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UN extends Lebanon border peacekeeping mission

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UN extends Lebanon border peacekeeping mission, urges full access to Blue Line

Security Council warns rising tensions can lead to war neither side can afford, orders review of UNIFIL amid Israeli concerns that Hezbollah rendering Blue Helmets ineffective

Soldiers of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol a road in the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila along the border with Israel on August 29, 2019. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

Soldiers of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol a road in the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila along the border with Israel on August 29, 2019. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

The UN Security Council on Thursday voted to renew its long-running peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for a year, warning of a “new conflict” with neighboring Israel as tensions with the Hezbollah terror group spike.

The draft resolution, written by France and approved unanimously, would allow for the approximately 10,000 members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, to stay in place. It also calls for a review of the peacekeeping mission, amid Israeli concerns that Hezbollah and Lebanon “continue to significantly hinder the full and effective implementation” of the Blue Helmets’ mandate.

“Should these restrictions remain, UNIFIL’s relevance is questioned,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said

According to the draft text, the Security Council warned that “violations of the cessation of hostilities could lead to a new conflict that none of the parties or the region can afford.”

Military vehicles belonging to the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) drive past posters of the Lebanese Shiiite Hezbollah movement leader Hasan Nasrallah (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on a road near the southern Lebanese town of Marjayoun, on August 26, 2019. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

It “condemns all violations of the Blue Line” between Lebanon and Israel, “both by air and ground, and strongly calls upon all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities.”

IDF soldiers in northern Israel have been on high alert this week over fears of a reprisal attack from Hezbollah or another Iranian proxy following Israeli airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, and an armed drone attack on Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold, which has been blamed on Israel.

Lebanese president Michel Aoun said the Beirut incident amounted to a “declaration of war,” and on Wednesday the Lebanese army fired on an Israeli drone in the southern part of the country.

“Urging all parties to make every effort to ensure that the cessation of hostilities is sustained,” the Security Council called on all sides to “exercise maximum calm and restraint.”

Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, whose term at the world body was recently extended, praised the Security Council decision, which he said “sends a clear message to the Lebanese government: restrain Hezbollah.”

“The terrorist organization’s grip on southern Lebanon is intended to only harm the State of Israel and endanger the entire region. Israel will not accept such a reality,” he said.

A picture taken on August 26, 2019, near the northern Israeli moshav of Avivim shows a Hezbollah flag in the Lebanon village of Aitaroun. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

The resolution includes a requirement — on the insistence of the United States, diplomats said — for the UN secretary-general to perform an evaluation on the UNIFIL mission and its staff before June 1, 2020.

Also at the US’s request, the Security Council resolution calls for UNIFIL to have full access to the Blue Line, where Israel recently said it discovered a network of cross-border tunnels dug by Hezbollah.

A picture taken from the southern Lebanese village of Meiss al-Jabal on December 16, 2018, shows Israeli soldiers watching as United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) soldiers speak with Lebanese soldiers in front of a Hezbollah flag. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The resolution expresses “concern that UNIFIL still has not been able to access all relevant locations north of the Blue Line related to the discovery of tunnels crossing the Blue Line.”

Washington was unable, however, to reduce the maximum allowed number of peacekeepers deployed to 9,000.

Israel had been seeking to expand the mandate of the mission, giving it more access to areas in Lebanon and allowing it to report infractions in real time, according to a Hebrew-language report Wednesday.

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India studying early Chinese proposals on boundary issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India studying early Chinese proposals on boundary issue

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is evaluating the “early harvest” proposals sent by Beijing to build trust between the two sides ahead of the meeting.

INDIA Updated: Aug 18, 2019 08:15 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Beijing/ New Delhi
Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way.
Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way. (HT File Photo )

The 22nd round of the India-China Special Representatives dialogue on the boundary issue will take place in New Delhi in mid-September. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is evaluating the “early harvest” proposals sent by Beijing to build trust between the two sides ahead of the meeting.

Dates for the meeting between Doval and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, the interlocutors, haven’t yet been finalized, Hindustan Times learns from Chinese and Indian diplomats.

The foreign ministers dialogue on August 11-13 in Beijing and the Special Representative talks are precursors to the October 11-12 informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in India for which Varanasi is being considered as the potential venue.

Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way, and that Wang had sent “early harvest” proposals to India.

Neither side is willing to share the contents of the proposals. However, Beijing, as indicated by HT’s conversations with Chinese diplomats, is showing no signs of changing any positions with New Delhi, be it India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or full political support to its “all weather ally” Pakistan.

The trust factor between the two sides has also taken a hit after China, joined by the United Kingdom, still living in its imperial past, supported Pakistan in the informal United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Monday against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to nullify Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.

The overall sense from the UNSC meeting was that both countries were hopelessly outnumbered and out maneuvered in their quest for a formal outcome by the remaining 13 members led by the US and France.

In his meeting this month in Beijing with State Councillor Wang, who is also foreign minister, external affairs minister S Jaishankar had made it very clear that both countries should be sensitive to each other’s core concerns. “If Beijing wants India to support One China that includes Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, then it also must support One India,” said a top official.

Indian diplomats based in the US said the latest Chinese move in support of Pakistan on Kashmir will lead to a cooling of ties; Article 370 and Article 35 A have nothing to do with beaching either the UN Charter or the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan, they say. Despite Chinese diplomats vehemently denying it, Beijing wants to play elder brother to South Asia as the dominant power in the region and will support Pakistan for its own economic and strategic interests.

In the circumstances, mutual trust between the two countries can only be built if President Xi, or Xi Dada (elder brother as he is called), can overrule the status quoits in Beijing and opt for a mutually beneficial and mutually acceptable solution to the long-pending dispute over the boundary.

First Published: Aug 18, 2019 07:07 IST