OIC urges UN Security Council to thwart Israel's annexation plan

Agencies
July 8, 2020

Jeddah, Jul 8: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) writes to the members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), urging the body to come in the way of a plan announced by Israel for annexation of significant portions of the occupied West Bank.

The letter was addressed by the 57-member organization’s Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen to the UNSC’s members as well as the members of the Middle East Quartet — the European Union, Russia, United Nations, and United States— the Arabic-language Rai al-Youm news website reported on Tuesday.

The letter urged the Council to adopt “the necessary measures” that would prevent the annexation and compel Israel to stop all its illegal activities.

The OIC also urged the UNSC to hold an emergency meeting to “salvage the [remaining] opportunities for peace, and revive attempts at reinstatement of the political process under international supervision.” Such meeting, it added, had to enable realization of “the two-state solution, and [creation of] a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the plan to annex 30 percent of the occupied Palestinian territory — namely the areas upon which the regime has built its illegal settlements as well as the Jordan Valley — after US President Donald Trump backed the annexation in January.

Trump pledged the support while unveiling details of his Middle East scheme called the “deal of the century.”

The highly controversial scheme allegedly seeks to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but is heavily tilted in favor of the occupying regime. As well as backing the annexation, the scheme re-endorses Washington’s incendiary recognition in late 2017 of al-Quds as “Israel’s capital,” although Palestinians want the occupied holy city’s eastern part to serve as the capital of their future state.

Palestinians have roundly rejected either the American design or the Israeli plan that is rooted in it.

Tel Aviv had previously announced July 1 as the date it sought to start implementing the annexation plan. It, however, is yet to get it off the ground amid far-and-wide international condemnation and speculation that the plan was announced in the first place to deflect attention from a massive corruption scandal involving Netanyahu.

Countries warn Israel of consequences to bilateral ties

Also on Tuesday, Egypt, France, Germany, and Jordan warned Israel against going ahead with the plan, saying that doing so could have consequences for their bilateral relations with the Tel Aviv regime.

In a statement distributed by the German Foreign Ministry, the countries said their foreign ministers had discussed how to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Most other European countries have likewise communicated their objection to the plan.

“We concur that any annexation of Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 would be a violation of international law and imperil the foundations of the peace process,” the European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers said, referring to the year, when Israel occupied the West Bank.

“We would not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders that are not agreed by both parties in the conflict,” they added. “It could also have consequences for the relationship with Israel.”

Israel had no immediate response. In a separate statement, however, Netanyahu’s office communicated Tel Aviv’s intransigence on the matter.

The statement said the Israeli premier had told his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Monday that he was committed to Trump’s “realistic” plan.

“Israel is prepared to conduct negotiations on the basis of President Trump’s peace plan, which is both creative and realistic, and will not return to the failed formulas of the past,” the statement alleged.

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News Network
September 23,2020

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Riyadh, Sept 23: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday suspended air travel to and from India, Brazil and Argentina, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the country's Civil Aviation Authority, people with travel history to any of the mentioned countries 14 days prior to their arrival to the Kingdom, have also been barred.

"Suspending travel to and from the following countries (India, Brazil, and Argentina) including any person who has been in any of the mentioned countries in the last (14) days prior to their arrival to the Kingdom," General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement.

However, those who have official government invitations are excluded.

Saudi Arabia to re-allow umrah pilgrimage

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has allowed pilgrims residing inside the country to undertake the umrah pilgrimage beginning on October 4, after a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns, state news agency SPA reported.

Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina undertaken any time of the year, attracting 19 million people last year.

Saudi Arabia had instituted a freeze on umrah in March.

It will now allow 6,000 citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform umrah daily, representing 30% of a revised capacity of 20,000 that takes into account precautionary health measures, SPA added. That will expand to 75% of capacity on October 18.

Beginning November 1, Saudi Arabia will allow visitors from specific countries deemed safe to perform umrah at 100% of the revised capacity, until the end of the pandemic, SPA said.

This year, Saudi Arabia conducted a limited haj, the larger pilgrimage that usually attracts around 3 million people, for a few thousand citizens and residents.

Official data show haj and umrah earn the kingdom about 12 billion USD a year.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia reported 330,798 total cases of coronavirus and 4,542 deaths, as cases in the Gulf region topped 800,000.

Global COVID-19 cases

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 31.5 million, while the deaths have increased to more than 969,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of Wednesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 31,517,087 and the fatalities rose to 969,578, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 6,896,218 and 200,786, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 5,562,663, while the country`s death toll soared to 90,020.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are:

             Brazil (4,591,364)

             Russia (1,111,157)

             Colombia (777,537)

             Peru (768,895)

             Mexico (705,263)

             Spain (682,267)

             South Africa (663,282)

             Argentina (652,174)

             France (507,150)

             Chile (448,523)

             Iran (429,193)

             UK (406,058)

             Bangladesh (352,178)

             Saudi Arabia (330,798)

             Iraq (327,580)

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Agencies
September 29,2020

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Sharjah, Sept 29: Four Emirati motorists nearly drowned in a wadi in Sharjah when their vehicles were swept away in a flood on Monday afternoon, according to reports. They managed to quickly escape their cars as the water started getting in.

The men were in their SUVs when a downpour triggered a flood that sent their cars floating down Wadi Shees in Khor Fakkan, according to a report by the Arabic daily Al Khaleej.

In a video that went viral on social media, the drivers were seen jumping from their vehicles and into the flood waters.

Khalifa Al Dahmani, one of the survivors, said that after getting out of their vehicles, the strong current further dragged them away, nearly drowning them, the report said. The 27-year-old thanked the Sharjah Police for helping them out and lifting their cars out of the wadi.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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Tbilisi, Sept 16: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has approved the setting up of a regional office in Riyadh to support the growth of the Middle East’s tourism sector as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the UNWTO’s Executive Council members have approved the move to establish the office during a session in Georgia. The office will cover 13 countries within the region, and will serve as a platform to build long-term growth in the travel and tourism sector of the Middle East.

“International cooperation and the role of the UNWTO are more important than ever. I am therefore very excited that Saudi Arabia will become home to the first ever UNWTO Regional Office, which aims to support growth at a national and regional level,” Al-Khateeb said.

“In Saudi Arabia, we are very aware of the transformative power of tourism on the economy and people. We may still be a young destination, but tourism is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future,” he added.

Recently, Al-Khateeb revealed that the Council of Ministers has given the Ministry of Tourism the go ahead to open a regional office of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Riyadh as well as to establish a global academy for tourism training.

Al-Khateeb pointed out that the ministry, in cooperation with UNWTO, would work to lay the foundations and standards that enable the proposed academy to be among the best tourism academies in the world.

It is noteworthy that that the UNWTO secretary general praised the Saudi Summer season during a recent visit to the Kingdom during which he toured a number of Saudi summer destinations. Al-Khateeb hoped that the Kingdom, together with UNWTO, would launch a set of initiatives to develop the tourism sector in the region.

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