Ammon News, World

Israel ‘ignoring’ a UN resolution to immediately halt settlements

[3/25/2017 3:47:17 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Israel has ignored a United Nations resolution demanding it halt settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory that was criticized by the Trump administration, the UN Middle East envoy said Friday. Although the UN Security Council resolution passed December 23 demanded that Israel immediately cease all settlement activities, "no such steps have been taken," envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in his first report to the council since the resolution was adopted. "The January spike in illegal settlement announcements by Israel is deeply concerning," he said. In January, Israel made five announcements on settlement building that together totaled more than 6,000 homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem. In early February, Israel declared its intention to build what would be, according to anti-settlement group Peace Now, the first new settlement by an Israel government since 1992. Mladenov also expressed concern about the Israeli parliament's approval of a new settlement law on February 6 that retroactively legalizes dozens of Jewish outposts and thousands of settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. The new law will allow Israel to legally seize Palestinian private land on which Israelis built without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so. Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land. Mladenov said the law represents a major change in Israel's position on the question of legality in the Palestinian occupied territories. Settlements in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians want for their own state. The Middle East envoy's report came before the 15-nation Security Council held a closed-door session to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under the new administration, the United States, one of the five veto-wielding council members and a long-time Israel supporter, has pledged to back Israel more than Donald Trump's predecessor Barack Obama. As president-elect, Trump in late December assailed Obama's outgoing administration for abstaining in the December 23 council vote on a UN resolution reprimanding Israel over its settlement activity. By declining to use its veto, the US enabled the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy. The Obama administration justified its decision by citing frustration with Israel's attitude on settlement building. The newly installed Trump administration in late January signaled that Israel did not have a blank check from America on settlement building. And Trump sowed confusion in mid-February in seeming to distance Washington from the two-state solution -- the creation of a Palestinian state that coexists with Israel -- that has been supported by the international community for years. *AFP

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London police: Eight arrests over Westminster attack

[3/23/2017 3:49:32 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The suspect of a deadly attack outside the UK parliament in London was British, Prime Minister Theresa May said, as police arrested eight people after several overnight raids across the country. Police named the man as Khalid Masood on Thursday, saying he had a string of criminal convictions. Masood, 52, was born in Kent to the southeast of London and had been most recently living in central England, London police said. "Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack," a police statement said. "However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH [grievous bodily harm], possession of offensive weapons and public order offences." Westminster attack: Car-and-knife rampage kills four He had not been convicted previously for any terrorism offences, it said. In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday, May said Masood was once investigated by intelligence officers over concerns of "violent extremism". "He was a peripheral figure," she said. "The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture." The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility on Thursday for the attack. It said on its Amaq website the attacker "carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition" of countries fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq. It was not possible for Al Jazeera to independently confirm the claim, which did not offer any details of the attack or name Masood, casting doubt on whether there is any direct link between ISIL and the London killings. Joseph Downing, from the London School of Economics, expressed scepticism over ISIL's claim. "To me this is something quite common over the last couple of years, over the terrorist attacks in Europe, is that ISIL jumps on the bandwagon in the most horrific way and says 'yeah, this our soldier', when there's actually no link between the person carrying out the attack and any particular group," he told Al Jazeera. Some 40 people were wounded in the attack, 29 of whom were being treated in hospital, according to police. Seven were still in critical condition. May said those wounded in the attack included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, two Greeks, and one each from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy and the United States. Three police officers were also wounded. The victims included Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old police officer who was stabbed to death, and two members of the public - a woman in her mid-40s and a man in his mid-50s. The fourth death was the attacker. REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Seeking solace in wake of the Westminster attack Earlier on Thursday, police said eight people had been arrested after raids on six homes in London, Birmingham and other parts of the country in their investigation into the attack, in which a man ploughed into pedestrians in a car and then went on a stabbing spree before being shot dead. Mark Rowley, acting deputy commissioner at the Metropolitan police, also revised down the number of victims to three from four. "It is still our belief that the attacker acted alone [and] was inspired by international terrorism," Rowley said. Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips, reporting from London, said: "The absolute priority of the police at this point in time would be to know what sort of accomplices, if any, the assailant had. What sort of assistance, if any, did the assailant have and whether he belonged to any sort of network." Rowley said he had no specific information about any further risk to the public, but repeated that more officers were on the streets - armed and unarmed - and that many had leave cancelled or were working extended hours. Some of the wounds suffered by the victims were described as "catastrophic". One woman was pulled out alive from the River Thames with serious injuries by port authorities. "We saw a black vehicle at full speed and it ran down a number of people. I could see people flying all around," tourist Babi Nagy told Al Jazeera. "Immediately it came to mind this was a terrorist attack." Polish politician and journalist Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video on Twitter of the aftermath on the bridge, showing several wounded people lying on the ground. Another witness said he saw victims scattered along the street. "As I was walking up the steps, there was a man who had fallen and medics were taking care of him. There was a lady who was also stabbed or shot. There was a lot of blood," Martin Pearce told Al Jazeera at the scene. The last major attack to hit London was in July 2005, when a coordinated series of bomb blasts targeted its public transportation system during rush hour. The bombings killed 52 people and wounded more than 700 others. *Agencies

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Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian teen

[3/23/2017 3:35:07 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager Thursday in the occupied West Bank and seriously wounded three other Palestinians, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement. It did not give the circumstances, but said the shooting happened near the Jelazoun Palestinian refugee camp. An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers shot a number of Palestinians throwing petrol bombs at Beit El settlement, close to Jelazoun, but she could not confirm the death. “The suspects hurled firebombs towards the community,” and soldiers fired in response, she said. “Hits were confirmed.” Palestinian health officials named the dead youngster as Mahmud Hattab, 16. *AFP

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Tillerson: US to set up zones for refugees in fight against ISIS

[3/22/2017 4:00:14 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The United States will increase pressure on ISIS and al-Qaeda and work to set up “interim zones of stability” to help refugees return home in the next phase of the battle to defeat the groups, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday. Addressing top officials from an international coalition of 68 nations battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Tillerson did not elaborate on where the United States planned to set up these safety zones. “The United States will increase our pressure on ISIS and al-Qaeda and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through ceasefires, to allow refugees to return home,” he told the meeting at the State Department. Tillerson also said that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will inevitably be killed as coalition and local forces continue to pile pressure on the extremists in Syria and Iraq. “Nearly all of Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere,” he said. “It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets this same fate.” *Reuters

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FM participates in global meeting to combat Daesh

[3/22/2017 3:54:25 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs, Ayman Safadi, on Wednesday, participated in a meeting brining ministers and officials from member states of the global coalition to combat the terrorist Daesh group. The meeting was held at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. and attended by foreign ministers and senior officials from all the coalition's 68 member states. Safadi reiterated Jordan's full commitment to working within the framework of the global coalition against Daesh and cooperate with the international community to fight terrorism and support efforts to face this challenge that threatens the world. He called for adopting a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism militarily, intellectually and culturally, and by solving crises that create chaos and despair. Safadi stressed the importance of finding a solution to the region's fundamental issue, the Palestinian issue and warned that the failure to resolve this issue would lead to more despair and frustration. The meeting discussed the coalition's efforts to defeat Daesh in the Iraqi city of Mousel, preparations to the Battle of Raqqa in Syria and the humanitarian situation in both countries. The meeting was followed by another meeting of the member states of the coalition's mini-group, including Jordan, where the U.S. secretaries of defense and state reviewed the U.S. administration plans to defeat Daesh in Syria and Iraq. On the sidelines of the meeting, the foreign minister met with his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully, the US State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. He also met with his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, and Kuwait First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. They discussed bilateral relations and regional developments, including the peace process and the Syrian crisis and regional challenges.

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Syrian rebels press major assault near Hama

[3/22/2017 3:52:50 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Syrian rebels advanced to within a few kilometers of the government-held city of Hama on Wednesday in a major assault in the western region of Syria critically important to President Bashar al-Assad, a war monitor reported. The offensive, spearheaded by Islamist militants, was launched on Tuesday after an attack in the capital Damascus, where heavy fighting persists, showing the lingering threat posed by rebels even as Assad enjoys the military upper hand. The Hama offensive also includes Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels who had agreed to a truce in December brokered by Russia and Turkey, underlining the bleak prospects for UN-backed peace talks that are due to reconvene in Geneva on Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the latest rebel advance on Hama. The Syrian army could not immediately be reached for comment. A Syrian military source told Reuters the army was sending reinforcements against the rebel thrust, adding that the insurgents had mobilized large numbers for the assault. More fronts A rebel commander told pro-opposition Orient TV that insurgents planned to open yet more fronts. The Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor, said insurgents had captured the towns of Soran, 20 km north of Hama, Khattab, 10 km northwest of Hama, and al-Majdal, 6 km west of Khattab. The assault on Soran began on Tuesday with two suicide bombers being deployed in addition to rockets and artillery. The areas of Hama province targeted in the latest assault form part of Syria's pivotal western region where Assad has shored up his rule during the six-year-long war with crucial military support from Russia and Iran. “There are fierce battles between the two sides,” the military source said. The attack is being led by Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance of Islamist factions dominated by a group that was formerly al-Qaeda's official affiliate in the Syrian war. “The battle - praise God - has been prepared for a long time and all capacities have been prepared for it so that we can wage a long battle,” an FSA commander identified as a lieutenant in the Ezza Army group told Orient TV. The rebels have been on the backfoot since Russia deployed its air force to Syria in 2015 to bolster Assad. They suffered their worst setback of the six-year war in December when government forces seized eastern Aleppo from the opposition. Syrian government forces, supported by Iranian-backed militias, have been pressing their military edge despite the December truce, winning back more areas including one near Damascus that is the source of the capital's water supply. Damascus assault The escalation in Hama province follows two rebel assaults on government-held areas in Jobar in Damascus, launched by opposition fighters from Eastern Ghouta, an opposition stronghold east of the capital. State media said on Wednesday the army was waging fierce clashes with insurgents in northern Jobar and that the air force was pounding insurgents and their supply lines in the area. The Ezza Army commander said the rebel attack in Hama was coordinated with the one in Damascus. He also said that more attacks would be launched “in a number of other areas”. The increase in fighting between the rebels and the army came in the run-up to new peace talks in Geneva. But the obstacles facing peacemaking were on display last week when Turkey-backed rebel groups shunned talks in Kazakhstan aimed at firming up the December ceasefire and criticized Russia for failing to get its allies to adhere to the truce. *Reuters

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UK bans passengers flying from QAIA to London from carrying electronic devices in cabin

[3/22/2017 3:43:32 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The UK authorities issued new rules that ban passengers on flights from Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) and other airports in the region, departing to London, from carrying laptops and tablets in the aircraft cabin, in addition to phones that are larger than, Length: 16.0cm, Width: 9.3cm, Depth: 1.5cm. These devices can be placed in the checked baggage, according to the new rules. The decision of the UK authorities included the flights from Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport and flights departing to the UK from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. The ban excludes the flights departing from the UK to Jordan and the mentioned countries. Royal Jordanian (RJ) will implement these new arrangements as of March 26. By taking these measures, the airline spares passengers the hassle of having to go through legal procedures in London Heathrow. The ban excludes the flights from London to Amman. RJ calls upon its passengers traveling to London to abide by these instructions to facilitate their travel. They are also requested to inform airport check-in staff of any prohibited devices- which are still in their possession- in order to be placed in their checked baggage before heading to the boarding gate.

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