About 900 State Department officials sign dissent memo

Roughly 900 US State Department officials signed an internal dissent memo critical of President Donald Trump’s travel ban for refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries, a source familiar with the document said today. A senior State Department official confirmed that the memorandum in the department’s “dissent channel” had been submitted to management. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said yesterday he was aware of the memo but warned career diplomats that they should either “get with the programme or they can go”. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order that halted travel to the United States by people with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stopped the resettlement of refugees for 120 […]

Jerusalem’s Mufti criticises UN chief over remarks on Al-Aqsa

Jerusalem’s Mufti Sheikh Mohamed Hussein severely criticised UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres over his remarks on Israeli radio regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday. Guterres told the Israeli radio on Friday that “it is clear that the temple destroyed by the Romans in Jerusalem was a Jewish one.” Israel claims that a Jewish temple stood where Al-Aqsa Mosque has stood for over 1,300 years. Gutterres supported this claim. In a statement, Hussein said: “Al-Aqsa is a mosque for Muslims and Muslims alone. No one shares their right or has the right to interfere in running its affairs. It is of special importance for all Muslims all over the globe and any decision to touch it is dangerous and condemned.” […]

Israeli committee approves outpost ‘Legalisation bill’

The widely condemned outpost “Legalisation Bill” passed its final committee vote today, according to Israeli media, only necessitating one more round of votes for it to be adopted into Israeli law. The bill is expected to retroactively legalise dozens of Israeli outposts – considered illegal under Israeli domestic law – built on private Palestinian land and confiscate thousands of dunams of Palestinian land. According to The Times of Israel, the bill was approved by a slim vote of seven in favour and six against in the Knesset’s Law Committee and Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, a special joint committee formed to push through the bill toward its final vote in the Knesset. The controversial bill is expected on Monday to […]

UN fears for lives of civilians trapped in fighting in Taiz

The top UN humanitarian official in Yemen said today he feared for the lives of civilians in two Red Sea coast cities where Yemeni government forces and their Gulf Arab backers are on an offensive to oust Iran-allied Houthi militia. Coalition-supported Yemeni army forces advanced northward into Al-Mokha and Dhubab last week in a bid to deprive the Houthis of strategic Red Sea ports. “I am extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of civilians in the Dhubab and Al-Mokha districts of Taiz Governorate,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said in a statement. “Repeated airstrikes, shelling and sniper attacks in and around the town of Al-Mokha have killed and injured scores of civilians and have ground most services […]

US official: Some nations affected by immigration order may stay on list

Some of the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by President Donald Trump’s executive action on immigration will not likely be taken off the list any time soon, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said today. Kelly said people from the seven targeted nations who hold dual citizenship will be allowed to enter the United States on the passport of a non-restricted nation. The new Homeland Security secretary faced questioning about the executive order Trump signed on Friday that halted travel to the United States by people with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stopped the resettlement of refugees for 120 days. There was widespread confusion at airports around the world as customs officials and […]

Israel issues 35 administrative detention orders against Palestinians

Israeli authorities issued 35 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners between 18-31 January, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Administrative detention is the arrest and detention of individuals without trial. Palestinians held in this way are not told why they are being held or what evidence is being used against them. PPS lawyer Mahmoud Al-Halabi said in a statement today that Israel sentenced Palestinian MP Ahmad Mubarak, who was detained on 16 January, to six months of administrative detention. Israel also renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Nidal Abu Aker for another six months. Abu Aker was detained on 9 August 2016 after he had previously spent 13 years in Israeli jails, nine of them under administrative detention. […]

How did moving the embassy become the lesser of two evils?

  There have been developments regarding moving the embassy, as there has been a trade-off between the Israeli government and American administration involving postponing the move of the embassy in exchange for the White House giving Israel the green light to execute its largest colonial settlement attack. This began with the construction of over 3,000 settlement units as part of a plan that includes 11,000 settlement units. In light of such a development, despite the danger it poses, moving the embassy has become less costly and harmful than not moving it. What prompts me to say this is how the Palestinian leadership has dealt with this issue, as it made a long list including 26 steps it would take if […]

Trump agrees to uphold Iran nuclear deal

US President Donald Trump is committed to enforcing the Iranian nuclear deal, the White House said on Sunday. Trump is said to have agreed with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to “rigorously” enforce the Iran nuclear deal, while the pair spoke on the phone during the weekend. The pair, in a phone conversation, also spoke of the need to address Iran’s “destabilising regional activities”, fight the spread of “radical Islamic terrorism” and establish safe zones in war-ravaged Syria and Yemen, the White House statement read. Throughout his campaign, Trump pledged to dismantle the landmark agreement, which he repeatedly called “disastrous” and “one of the dumbest deals” he’s ever seen, despite the fact that it was agreed with Iran and six major […]

PA requests ICC speed up investigation into Israeli settlements

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to speed up rulings on key issues including Israeli settlements, an official has told Arab News. According to the online news site, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), is reported to have asked ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to expedite rulings on three Palestinian files in order to open a judicial inquiry into the Israeli government’s violations of international law. The request to the ICC comes as the Israeli Knesset is expected to vote today on a bill retroactively legalising about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land, a measure the Israeli attorney-general has said is unconstitutional. “Upon meeting with the International Criminal Court’s […]

Israeli army orders evacuation of illegal Amona outpost within 48 hours

The Israeli army has ordered the evacuation of the settlers from the illegal Amona outpost in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah within 48 hours, an army spokesperson said. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that the army had delivered a notice to the outpost, saying that the army would bar entry to Amona and not allow anyone to stay on the premises 48 hours after midnight on Monday, although the settlers claimed that they only received the order on Tuesday morning. The order required the settlers remove their property from the illegal outpost by midnight Wednesday, and gave them the chance to petition the army within 48 hours. An Israeli spokesperson told Ma’an that “in accordance with government […]