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Israeli parties to form coalition ahead of Passover

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Israel’s two leading parties, on Monday, held marathon negotiations in a frantic bid to reach a coalition agreement ahead of the one-week Jewish Passover holiday, which starts at sundown on Wednesday.

According to a senior source in the centrist Blue and White party of former military chief, Benny Gantz, everybody is interested in finalising an agreement as soon possible, ideally before Pesah, being the Hebrew term for Passover.

“Blue and White will only join an emergency unity government with right-wing Likud, of caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, if Likud safeguards democracy and joins the efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic as efficiently and as swiftly as possible.

“One issue being discussed is whether the centrist party will accept Netanyahu’s insistence on extending Israeli sovereignty over part of the 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank.

“West Bank, under the U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East plan, should form part of Israel,’’ the source said.

However, another Blue and White source told Israeli daily Ma’ariv that Netanyahu wanted annexation right now.

The source added that Netanyahu was acting as if he was forming a straight right-wing government.

It said that Blue and White party would not allow the Likud to have a veto on the Judicial Selection Committee.

Likud officials said that against all odds, the talks would be successful.

An unprecedented third election under one year on March 2, ended yet again without a clear majority.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Abdulfatah Babatunde
(NAN)

Yahaya Isah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian in Jerusalem

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Israeli forces on Monday shot and badly injured a Palestinian who allegedly tried to stab a Border Police officer in East Jerusalem amidst escalating tensions in the region.

The incident took place in Jabel Mukaber, a Palestinian neighborhood in southern East Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect, a 30-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem, did not injure any police officer before he was shot and “neutralized.”

The man sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital, he added.

It was the second attempted attack on Monday. Earlier in the morning, the military said troops shot towards two Palestinians after they attempted to stab soldiers near the settlement of Amichai, east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The violence came as tensions were rising over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley, a portion of the West Bank. The move stirs concerns and anger among the Palestinians, most of the Arab world, and some of Israel’s European allies.

In response, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said last week that the Palestinian Authority is no longer committed to any signed agreements with Israel or the United States.

Israel seized the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip, in 1967 war and kept controlling it ever since despite international criticism.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

News Analysis: Israeli PM strives to use new gov’t as protection in court trial

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With newly appointed ministers behind him, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his trial opened on Sunday is “an effort to bring him down” and his right-wing political camp.

Netanyahu came to the court escorted by his supporters from the government, part of them in charge of the enforcement agencies and appointment committee of court judges.

Facing a “battle for life”, Netanyahu is striving to use its government power as the most effective weapon.

He has endeavored from the beginning of his investigations to depict himself as “a victim of a witch hunt” led by the left-wing side.

The corruption trials of Netanyahu in three different cases involve serious charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

But no one could imagine anyone else able to form an alternative government in the near future, even Benny Gantz.

And not many believe that Netanyahu would hand over the post of prime minister to Gantz in 2021.

Benny Gantz, an alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister, signed a rotation agreement with Netanyahu, which enabled the latter to establish the government, in the act of uniting the Israeli society during the COVID-19 crisis.

Yossi Shain, head of the school of political science at Tel Aviv University, said in an interview with Xinhua that Gantz is trying not to break the government right now.

“He doesn’t see any value of destroying the government by condemning Netanyahu,” which will immediately bring the government down, said Shain.

Gantz, a former chief of staff of the Israeli military, entered the politics a year ago claiming to overthrow “corrupted” Netanyahu. But after three elections, they joined hands.

Gayil Talshir, an expert on Israeli democracy at the department of politics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Gantz has prevented Netanyahu from using the government to terminate his trial completely.

If Netanyahu had been able to form his dream government without Gantz which just consisted of right-wing parties, they could pass laws that undermine the trial at least as long as Netanyahu is the acting PM.

“I think that we will hear many statements of Netanyahu’s party members against the trial, the judges, and the police,” Talshir said in an interview with Xinhua.

Netanyahu just minutes before his trial started said at his speech to the media that the former head of the Israeli police, which he appointed, committed criminal offenses as leaking information from PM investigations.

Netanyahu accused the official of wrongdoings, as well another high-ranking police officer. “These are the people who led the investigations against me,” he said. “I am sure they did this deliberately and willingly.”

Talshir thinks that the new appointee by Netanyahu for the minister of public security who is now in charge of the police would make sure no new investigations against the prime minister would happen.

Analysts said some ministers appointed by the new government may not be the best fit for their public positions, but perfect for helping Netanyahu in the trial.

Netanyahu, 70-year-old and the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Israel, was elected firstly in 1996, served until 1999, and has been in power continuously since 2009.

Meanwhile, he has been indicted in three cases, including receiving gifts from billionaires in exchange for visa extension and tax reduction laws, helping a prominent publisher close its competitor in exchange for less negative coverage, and promoting regulatory decisions in favor of a telecom giant in exchange for positive coverage.

(XINHUA)

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Israeli aircraft lands in Turkey for first time since 2007

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An Israeli plane has landed in Turkey for the first time for over a decade, Israel’s leading airline El Al said on Sunday.

El Al was the only Israeli airline to conduct flights to Turkey until it canceled the route to Istanbul in 2007 due to high security costs and stiff restrictions arising from the tense relations between the two countries.

Since then, except for emergency landings and private flights, no Israeli aircraft has landed in Turkey.

On Sunday, however, El Al’s Dreamliner aircraft, converted to carry cargo, landed in Istanbul.

It was loaded there with 24 tons of humanitarian coronavirus equipment, destined for Israel and the United States.

So far, El Al has received approval from the Turkish authorities to operate two flights for humanitarian purposes and is awaiting approval to operate cargo flights regularly.

(XINHUA)

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Israeli PM’s corruption trial opens

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial opened on Sunday in Jerusalem, marking the first time a sitting prime minister in Israel stands a criminal trial.

As he arrived at the Jerusalem District Court, Netanyahu launched an all-out attack against the justice system, charging the trial is a conspiracy by media, police, prosecution, and leftists to oust him.

With his right-wing Likud party ministers standing around him, Netanyahu accused the justice system of carrying out “an attempt to eliminate the will of the people” and an “attempt to depose a strong right-wing leader.”

Hundreds have rallied outside the court, protesting in support of Netanyahu and against him.

The first session of the unprecedented trial, in which Netanyahu is facing charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, opened a week after Israel’s longest-serving leader was sworn in for a fifth term.

(XINHUA)

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Urgent: Israeli PM’s corruption trial opens

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial over charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust opened on Sunday in the Jerusalem District Court, a week after he was sworn-in for a fifth term, marking the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister stands criminal trial.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Israeli researchers develop self-disinfecting COVID-19 face mask

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Israeli researchers have developed an innovative coronavirus face mask which disinfects itself for multiple use, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said Sunday.

The mask, developed by Technion researchers, includes an internal layer of carbon fibers, which are homogeneously dispersed within the mask.

The disinfection is based on heat produced in the carbon fiber layer using a low two-ampere current, from a standard source such as a portable charger, USB connection or cellular charger.

Thus, the mask is heated in a controlled process that destroys the viruses accumulated on it during the day and prepares it for reuse.

The researchers have manufactured and tested a prototype of the mask, which is operated with a connection to a mobile phone charger.

According to the Technion, such efficient and innovative masks can help countries deal with the shortage of masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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Israeli PM says speaks with leaders of Sudan, Chad

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he has talked with the leaders of Sudan and Chad, countries with which Israel has no bilateral ties until recently.

The remark was made at the start of the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new power-sharing government between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, a week after the unity government was sworn-in in the parliament.

The meeting was held a few hours before the opening of the first hearing of Netanyahu’s criminal trial over corruption charges at the Jerusalem District Court.

Netanyahu told the cabinet he had spoken with the leaders of Sudan and Chad over the past two days, and wished them happy Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

He said he wishes the ties between the countries would “strengthen further,” noting new diplomatic ties with “more Muslim countries” are “on the way.”

Netanyahu and Sudan’s leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met in Uganda in February and agreed to move toward the normalization of their relations.

In January 2019, during Netanyahu’s visit to Chad, he and Chadian President Idriss Deby announced the resumption of diplomatic ties for the first time since 1972.

Forming new relations with Muslim countries is a key part of Netanyahu’s foreign policy, according to which the Israelis can normalize ties with their Arab neighbors and the Muslim world without inking a peace deal with the Palestinians.

(XINHUA)

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Lebanon retains right to confront Israeli scheme: army commander

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The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander Joseph Aoun said on Friday that LAF retains its right to confront the “Israeli enemy’s schemes” and persistent breaches of Lebanon’s national sovereignty, a statement by LAF reported.

“We reiterate once again our right to completely recover the farms of Shebaa, the hills of Kfarshouba, the northern part of the Ghajar town and the territories with regard to which Lebanon maintains a claim,” Aoun said on the occasion of Liberation Day.

Aoun mentioned the importance of the historic achievement when the Israeli enemy withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.

“It is an achievement that wouldn’t have seen the light has it not been for the steadfastness and resistance of our people and the insistence on the right to liberate all our land,” he added.

Aoun urged LAF members to commit themselves to serve the country, and defend it against all dangers.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Ramadan: Foundation, Israeli Embassy donate food items to IDPs

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Mr Dauda Ibrahim-Daura, Executive Secretary, Brand Life Vision Foundation, has donated 200 cartons of food items to support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), during the 2020 Ramadan fasting.

Daura while delivering the items on Thursday at the IDPs camp in Durumi, Abuja, said the items were donated by the foundation in partnership with the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria.

He also said that the food items were put together in collaboration with ChabadAid, MAG Tech System Ltd, Heritage Bank, Pugan Technologies and Kings of the World, all NGOs.

“We were here last year, so this time, we remembered them with our partners from Israel and they contributed some food items.

“We feel that they are the people that need these items the most, that is why we have decided to take them to our brothers and sisters.

“Everybody knows that we are all in hard times. It is a global challenge the world is faced with economic hardship, so, it is not only in Nigeria.

“We implore everybody, who has the ability to assist, to reach out to the IDPs, because they are more faced with hardship.

“Government is doing its best, but more needed to be done by private organisations to achieve the desired goal in lending helping hands to them.

“50 per cent of our problems in the society will be solved if we go beyond religious and political divide, and show love to IDPs and less privileged,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, Hajiya Binta Sidi, Executive Director of the Foundation, expressed appreciation over the assistance given to the women in the IDPs camp.

According to her,  it is a thing of joy seeing that women were assisted in the IDPs camp.

She said that when it comes to the aspect of politics, more votes come from women and their children. So, why should they not be helped?

“That is why we think we should show our passion, our vision and mission by coming down to distribute the food items.

“We are feeding 600 IDPs in Kano and Yobe States respectively. Last year we did 600 in Kano and 600 in Yobe as well.

“For now, we brought 200 cartons of food items, but we are thinking of enrolling 20 IDPs children of both sexes in school after the Eid-el Fitr.

Sidi explained that the choice of the children would not be based on their tribe or religious background.

She further said that providing education for the children was in the bid to support the women, adding that there was no gift greeater in life for a growing child than basic education.

Meanwhile, Mr Idris Halilu, Coordinator and Spokesperson of Abuja-based Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), thanked the foundation for the donation.

Halilu said, “I am happy that the gesture was carried out without tribe or religion bias.

“The IDPs in Durumi, Abuja, and Nigeria at large, thanked the foundation for their kind gesture and for the group that came together to donate during the COVID-19 lockdown and Ramadan.”

He mentioned that the IDPs camp has a total of 2,830 people, including men, women and children.

He said that the inability to access quality healthcare service delivery was the main challenge of the IDPs in the camp and appealed to the Federal Government to intervene.

In a remark, Mr Ibrahim Ahmadu, Chairman of the Durumi IDPs Camp, urged the government to prioritise the wellbeing of IDPs, to ensure better future for them.

“We want the government to provide for our wellbeing; we will like to go back to our home town.

“Most people in the camp are concerned about the poor settlement of their home community. If it is settled, we will return,” Ahmadu said.

He said that life in the camp was mostly sustained through communal living, sharing in love of any donation we had to the 11-groups that we have.

For her part, Mrs Liyatu Ayuba, Women Leader of the Durumi IDPs Camp, thank the foundation, saying that it was not the first time the organisation would be visiting  the IDPs.

Ayuba said, “It is indeed true that women have responsibility to cater for their children at the home front.

“We have widows among us and they take responsibility to fend for their children; we also have women here with their husbands who are not doing anything,” she said.

She, however, said that women formed the least chunk of the population at the IDPs camp with approximately total of 185-200.

The Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organisation that seeks to give succour to less privileged women and children.

Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

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Foreign

Israeli exports to China up 10.7 pct in Jan.-April despite COVID-19: report

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Israeli exports to China have increased by 10.7 percent year on year in the first four months of 2020 despite COVID-19, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday.

Israeli exports to China totaled 1.45 billion U.S. dollars in January-April in 2020, compared with 1.31 billion dollars in the same months in 2019, said a report issued by the bureau.

In April alone, a 7.25-percent increase in Israeli exports to China was recorded, it said.

The figures also showed that Israeli imports from China rose by 13.4 percent to 735 million dollars last month.

In January-April 2020, Israeli imports from China decreased by 1.1 percent year on year.

According to Israeli analysts, the slight decline is not expected to deepen in the coming months despite the pandemic due to extended Israeli imports of electronics, food products and medical equipment from China.

The report also said that Israel’s total exports in January-April 2020 totaled 14.63 billion dollars, down 14 percent from the same period in 2019, while its total imports stood at 21.5 billion dollars, down 12 percent.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

EU members of Security Council warn against Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory

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The four EU members of the UN Security Council — Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany — plus Poland, which has just left the council, on Wednesday warned against Israel’s planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.

The five countries expressed grave concern over Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank as stated by the prime minister when presenting his government to the Knesset (parliament) on May 17 and as envisaged in the coalition agreement signed earlier.

“We strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to international law,” said the five countries in a joint statement.

“International law is a fundamental pillar of the international rules-based order. In this respect, we recall that we will not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders, unless agreed by Israelis and Palestinians,” said the statement.

The two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the future capital for both states, is the only way to ensure sustainable peace and stability in the region, it said.

The five countries congratulated the new government in Israel and looked forward to continuing to work with the Israeli government in a constructive and comprehensive way.

They showed their willingness to support and facilitate resumed direct and meaningful negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians in order to resolve all final-status issues and achieve a just and lasting peace. “We stand ready to engage immediately with the new government and with all relevant stakeholders,” said the statement.

(XINHUA)

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UN Mideast envoy warns of grave consequences of Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory

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UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Wednesday warned of the grave consequences of Israel’s planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.

“The continuing threat of annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank would constitute a most serious violation of international law, deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace and our broader efforts to maintain international peace and security,” Mladenov told the Security Council.

Recent polls show that the Israeli public is also divided on the issue. Countries in the region and many in the international community clearly stated their positions regarding annexation, he said in a briefing.

The Palestinian leadership announced on Tuesday that it sees itself absolved “as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones” and calls on Israel to assume its obligations as the occupying power. The statement by President Mahmoud Abbas also calls for negotiations under international auspices, including by the Quartet, to advance a negotiated two-state solution, said Mladenov.

“Tomorrow I will be meeting with the Palestinian prime minister in order to better understand the practical side of the decision by the leadership and its implications on the ground. If there is one concern that we all share, that is the need for all to work together to prevent escalation and radicalization.”

(XINHUA)

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Israeli court orders Netanyahu to attend trial’s opening

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The Israeli court on Wednesday ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appear at the first court session of his upcoming corruption trial.

The Jerusalem District Court rejected a request filed by Netanyahu’s lawyers on Tuesday to exempt him from appearing for the opening hearing.

The lawyers argued that Netanyahu’s presence was unnecessary because he had “read this indictment several times already,” and the five bodyguards needed to secure his arrival would cost the public coffers “a fortune.”

The presence of defendants in their opening session is a regular procedure in Israel.

The trial will begin on May 24 at the Jerusalem District Court.

On Sunday, Israel’s longest-serving leader was sworn in his rare power-sharing government together with his former rival, Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, breaking a year and a half of political stalemate following three rounds of inconclusive elections.

Netanyahu’s trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust should have begun in March but was postponed to May 24 because of lockdown restrictions amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Netanyahu, the first sitting prime minister in Israel’s history to stand trial, denies all allegations as part of “a witch hunt.”

The trial, including the expected appeals, could take several years.

(XINHUA)

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Israeli forces shoot, hurt man illegally crossing from Jordan

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Israeli forces shot and wounded a Jordanian national after he attempted to cross from Jordan to Israel, Israeli security officials said on Wednesday.

The incident took place on the Jordan-Israel border, south of the Sea of Galilee.

The 49-year-old man was trying to smuggle weapons, according to a statement issued by the Israeli military.

He and another suspect were spotted by a joint army and police patrol.

The police forces opened fire at them, injuring one of the suspects who was taken to a hospital in Israel. The other suspect fled the area into Jordan, the army said.

“During the activity, nine pistols, six rifles and additional smuggled weapons were seized,” the statement read.

The forces fired illumination rounds during the incident, causing fires in the area, which are now under control.

No Israeli forces were injured.

It is the second such border incident in less than a week. On Sunday, Israeli troops shot and injured a man after he crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

(XINHUA)

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Hamas vows no release of Israeli captives without “real” prisoners’ swap deal

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A senior Hamas official said on Monday that the Israelis who have been held in captivity in the Gaza Strip since 2014 won’t be released until “a real prisoners’ swap deal” is reached.

“A real prisoners’ exchange deal is the best way for the release of the captive Israelis” held by Hamas, Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told Xinhua.

“Otherwise, the Zionist leadership (Israel) will be just selling illusions to the Israeli public,” said Qassem, referring to the new Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s remarks to the families of the Israeli captives.

Earlier in the day, Gantz met with the families of four Israelis, two soldiers and two civilians who are believed to have been held by Hamas militants since 2014.

In October 2011, Egypt brokered a prisoners’ swap deal between Israel and Hamas, where Israel handed over 1,028 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of the Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit who was abducted in southern Gaza in 2006.

(XINHUA)

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Jordan says Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories to end two-state solution

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Jordan warned on Monday that the Israeli annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories will end the two-state solution.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi made the remarks during a phone call with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Soreide.

Safadi warned that such a step would undermine opportunities to realize permanent and comprehensive peace, according to a foreign ministry statement.

The two ministers also discussed means of joint action to achieve regional peace through active and direct negotiations based on international law and the global terms of reference.

During a separate phone call with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod on Monday, Safadi discussed with him international stances regarding the Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands, mainly the European position that rejects any similar steps.

Safadi and Kofod also discussed financial issues related to securing enough funds to meet refugees’ needs.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Israeli court convicts Jewish settler of murdering Palestinian family

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An Israeli Court South of Tel Aviv on Monday convicted a Jewish settler of murdering a Palestinian couple and their baby boy in  July 2015 arson attack, Kan Israel Radio reported.

Amiram Ben-Uliel, in his 20s, threw a firebomb into the home of a Palestinian family in the the Northern West Bank village of Duma, near Nablus.

Ali Dawabshe, 18 months old, and his parents burned to death as their room caught fire while they were sleeping.

The toddler’s 4-year-old brother was severely injured.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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Foreign

Israeli court convicts settler of torching to death Palestinian family

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An Israeli court convicted on Monday an Israeli settler of three counts of murder over an arson attack that killed a Palestinian baby and his parents in a West Bank village in 2015.

The Central District Court ruled that Amiram Ben-Uliel, an Israeli settler, hurled a firebomb that torched the house of Dawabshe family in the village of Duma.

The fire killed 18-month Ali Dawabshe, his mother, Riham, 27, and his father, Sa’ad, 32. His brother, four-year-old Ahmad survived but sustained serious injuries.

The judges said the attack was “an act of terror” driven by racist motives.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said that Ben-Uliel, 25, had admitted of planning and carrying out the attack to “avenge” a Palestinian attack a month earlier in which an Israeli was killed. He had two other friends who were complicit in the murder, according to the Shin Bet.

Ben-Uliel’s lawyer, Itzhak Bam, denied the allegations, saying Ben-Uliel’s confession was taken under “tortures.”

“I don’t want even one more child to be in Ahmad’s position, I don’t want any other family to suffer such a trauma,” said Hussein Dawabshe, Ali and Ahmad’s grandfather.

Over the past years, ultra-nationalist Israelis have increasingly been carrying out attacks against Palestinians, including harassments of Palestinian farmers, and vandalizing Palestinian property, cemeteries, mosques, and churches.

Most of these non-lethal attacks go unpunished, according to human rights groups that monitor this violence.

(XINHUA)

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Israeli students in all grades go back to school

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Students wearing masks are seen outside a school in central Israeli city of Modiin amid COVID-19 pandemic on May 17, 2020. Israeli students in all grades went back to school on Sunday. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua)

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Foreign

Netanyahu’s new Israeli government eyes West Bank annexations

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Approval

Jerusalem, May 17, 2020 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new unity government on Sunday expressed determination to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

West Bank is a territory Palestinians want for their own independent state.

“These regions are where the Jewish nation was born and rose. It is time to apply Israeli law on them and write another great chapter in the annals of Zionism,” he said.

But while Netanyahu has set July 1 as a starting point for cabinet discussions on the highly contentious issue, there is no publicly stated deadline for annexation of land that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinians have vehemently opposed such a move, urging international sanctions against Israel in response. It would be certain to heighten tensions in the West Bank and Gaza.

“These colonial and expansionist positions confirm once again his (Netanyahu’s) ideological enmity towards peace,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Israel’s parliament on Sunday approved Netanyahu’s new unity government, ending more than a year of political deadlock.

Israel’s longest-serving leader, Netanyahu, 70, first came to power in 1996 and has served three consecutive terms since 2009. He goes on trial on May 24 on charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud, which he denies.

“The people wanted unity, and that is what it got,” Netanyahu told parliament, citing a desire to steer clear of a fourth election and the need for a national battle against the coronavirus crisis.

Lawmakers ratified the new administration by a vote of 73 to 46.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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