Move to criminalise BDS blocked by Swiss parliament

The Swiss parliament has blocked a move to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign aimed at Israel’s abuse of human rights in occupied Palestine. Although MPs voted in favour of a motion calling on the government to review its regulations to ensure organisations involved in “racist, anti-Semitic or hate-motivated actions” do not receive funding from the state, the final text of the Bill was stripped of all references to BDS and the Middle East. The Bill was regarded openly as an anti-BDS measure. It was changed on the recommendation of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house. The measure to criminalise the BDS campaign for Palestinian rights was thus thwarted. During the debate on the issue, Switzerland’s […]

‘Two arrested for assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh are living freely in the UAE’

The defendants were not given a fair and open trial after they were extradited from Jordan. The UAE authorities did not inform Al-Mabhouh’s family of progress of the interrogation of the two suspects. Al-Mabhouh’s personal belongings seized after the assassination have still not been given to his family. The authorities missed the chance to have a suspect involved in the assassination handed over by Poland and Germany. The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR) has revealed that at least two members of the group who killed Palestinian Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai’s Al-Bustan Hotel on 19 January 2010 are living freely in the UAE. Neither has been tried on charges of providing logistical support to the group that […]

Tunisia backs Turkey’s role as mediator in Gulf-Qatar crisis

Tunisia is backing Turkey’s role as a mediator in the efforts to ease the Gulf-Qatar crisis, Foreign Minister Khamis Al-Jahnawi announced yesterday. The Turkish government is also seeking ways to resolve the crisis in Libya, he pointed out. Al-Jahnawi told Behind the Event programme on Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) that Tunisia supports Turkey’s “influential role” in the region, especially in resolving the “unprecedented” crisis between the Gulf neighbours. “Given Turkey’s close relations with various parties in Libya,” he added, “it can also help to find a solution there.” The minister stressed the importance of relations between Tunis and Ankara. The second session of the Tunisian-Turkish Supreme Council for Strategic Cooperation will be held in January next year in […]

EU sends €22 million to improve education in Sudan

The European Union mission in Sudan announced on Thursday that €22 million ($24.5 million) has been allocated to fund a programme to improve the quality of education in the country and combat child labour, Anatolia Agency has reported. According to the head of the mission, Jean-Michel Dumond, the EU is using the money to fund several initiatives in Sudan to protect children from exploitation and to ensure that they secure a healthy childhood and future. “This is in line with the goals of sustainable development and international conventions,” he explained. The EU official expressed his commitment to introduce measures to eradicate child labour completely. The intention is for “immediate and effective measures” to eliminate all forms of child and forced […]

Netanyahu’s call to close UNRWA is an attack on refugee rights, say analysts

Palestinian political analysts have agreed that the demand by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to be closed is an attack on refugee rights. The legitimate right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land is, they agree, the “basis of the Palestinian cause.” Netanyahu’s argument is that the Palestinian refugees have their own agency — UNRWA — whereas, in his opinion, the issue should come under the umbrella of the UN High Commission for Refugees. According to interviews conducted by Anadolu, however, most of the experts on the matter expect the UN to ignore the Israeli leader’s demand. “At the moment, UNRWA keeps the Palestinian […]

Turkish leader’s security officers charged with assault in Washington

US prosecutors have charged a dozen Turkish security and police officers with assault after an attack on protesters in Washington during Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the US capital last month, officials said on Thursday. The May 16 skirmish, caught on video, left nine protesters injured outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence and further strained ties at a time when the NATO allies are in sharp disagreement over policy in Syria. The charges against some members of Erdogan’s security detail send a clear message that the United States “does not tolerate individuals who use intimidation and violence to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate political expression,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. Turkey condemned the charges […]

Turkey’s Erdogan says Saudi king should resolve Gulf rift during Ramadan

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to resolve the rift with Qatar before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to an interview with Portuguese state broadcaster RTP on Thursday. Erdogan also said that Muslim countries should not be imposing sanctions on fellow Muslim nations. Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who cut ties last week, in the worst rift among Gulf Arab states in years. They accuse Qatar of funding terrorism and cosying up to Iran, all of which Qatar denies. Turkey, which backs Qatar, has sought to solve the issue through diplomacy, saying the rift is detrimental to the Islamic world. […]

British PM May urges Qatar, Saudi and Bahrain to ease tensions

British Prime Minister Theresa May urged the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar on Thursday to take steps to reduce tensions that have led the Arab world’s biggest powers to cut ties with Qatar. “The Prime Minister raised the ongoing isolation of Qatar in the Gulf region, calling on all sides to urgently de-escalate the situation, engage meaningfully in dialogue, and restore Gulf Cooperation Council unity at the earliest possible opportunity,” a spokesperson for May said in a statement. Qatar should “continue to build on the progress it has already made to address the scourge of radicalisation and terrorism in the region, in partnership with its Gulf allies,” the spokesperson added. May’s office said she spoke with the kings […]

Qatar says fighter jets deal shows deep US support

A $12 billion deal to buy US F-15 fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, despite President Donald Trump’s repeated accusations that Doha supports terrorism. Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who cut ties last week, in the worst rift among Gulf Arab states in years. They accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and cosying up to their enemy Iran, all of which Qatar denies. The fighter jet deal came amid increased diplomacy to try to resolve the crisis. Trump has repeatedly echoed the accusations against Qatar, even as his Defense and State Departments have tried to remain neutral in […]

Saudi: Gulf rift bigger than air rights, can’t be resolved at ICAO

Saudi Arabia, one of four Arab states that have cut ties with Qatar, said on Thursday that the rift was a bigger political issue than airspace rights and could not be resolved at the UN’s aviation agency, according to a source familiar with talks. Qatar asked the International Civil Aviation Organization to intervene after its Gulf neighbors closed their airspace to Qatar flights last week as part of economic sanctions. The ICAO, which regulates international air travel under the Chicago Convention, brought together transport ministers and aviation officials from the Gulf states and Egypt at its headquarters to help resolve the dispute. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants […]