Spain, Ireland, Norway formally recognize Palestinian state; angry Israel recalls ambassadors

News Network
May 22, 2024

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Ireland, Norway and Spain have formally recognized the Palestinian state, angering the Israeli regime that recalled its ambassadors from the two European states.

“Today Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognize the state of Palestine, each of us will undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision," Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said at a news conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

“I am confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.”

He added that the move was a statement of "unequivocal support" for the so-called two-state solution, which he described as "the only credible path to peace and security."

Shortly after Harris's statement, his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said both countries will recognize the Palestine state from May 28.

Sanchez said it is clear is that “[Israeli] prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have a project of peace for Palestine.”

Store, for his part, noted that there cannot be peace in the West Asia region if there is no recognition.

"Norway’s formal recognition of Palestine as a state will enter into force on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. A number of other like-minded European countries will also formally recognize Palestine on that same date. These countries will be making their own announcements," added a statement by the Norwegian prime minister.

Palestine welcomes recognition 

Meanwhile, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hussein al-Sheikh, welcomed the decision by Norway, Spain and Ireland to recognize the state of Palestine, calling it a “historical moment.”

“Historical moments in which the free world triumphs for truth and justice after long decades of Palestinian national struggle, suffering, pain, occupation, racism, murder, oppression, abuse and destruction to which the people of Palestine were subjected to,” he said in a post on social media platform X, describing the recognition as a path to stability, security and peace.

“We thank the countries of the world that have recognized and will recognize the independent State of Palestine. We affirm that this is the path to stability, security and peace in the region.”

In reaction, Israeli authorities have ordered the regime’s ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return, and said they would do the same for Spain.

The Spanish prime minister has been one of the most outspoken European leaders when it comes to criticism of the Israeli regime’s genocidal war on Gaza. He has also repeatedly asserted that the so-called two-state solution remains the only answer to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This comes amid Israel's brutal war on Gaza, which was launched on October 7 after Palestinian resistance groups carried out a surprise retaliatory operation into the occupied territories.

Concomitantly with the war, the regime has been enforcing a near-total siege on the coastal territory, which has reduced the flow of foodstuffs, medicine, electricity, and water into the Palestinian territory into a trickle.

So far during the military onslaught, the regime has killed at least 35,456 Gazans, most of them women, children, and adolescents. Another 79,476 Palestinians have sustained injuries as well.

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News Network
June 5,2024

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India is unpredictable. This is an incontrovertible fact that Indians themselves seem to have forgotten over the past decade.

Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed into office with an unexpected and unprecedented outright legislative majority in 2014, many have assumed the country’s politics had changed forever.

The age of coalitions was over; India seemed to be heading inexorably toward one-party dominance.

To stock traders and pro-government pundits, the country’s trajectory seemed so clear: It was destined to see steady 8 per cent growth, happy voters, and a prime minister going from strength to strength at home and abroad.

Indian voters chose to disagree. With votes still being counted in the country’s massive general elections and several races still hanging in the balance, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party looks almost certain to have fallen short of a parliamentary majority. 
That means it will have to depend, for the first time, on fickle smaller parties to hold onto power.

This was what Indian politics looked like for decades prior to Modi’s emergence. Many thought we were living in a new normal. Instead, the old normal has reasserted itself.

In these surprising elections, Modi and the BJP appear to have discovered the limits of hype. An apparently unified public sphere, solidly pro-government media, and impressive growth numbers had left many assuming that Modi’s performance in power had few holes.

Observers should have paid more attention to contrary indicators. Employment growth under Modi has been marginal at best. Social inclusion has been patchy.

While much of the country looks very different from it did in 2014, even more of it looks largely unchanged.

Small-town India has not seen the sort of revolution in infrastructure that cities of equivalent size in China or Southeast Asia have enjoyed over recent decades.

Big metropolises were transformed during the boom years of the 2000s; they have mostly stagnated since then.

Whatever the GDP growth numbers are, whether they are believable or not, one thing is clear: Voters do not believe enough of that growth has reached their wallets.
It’s not surprising such facts have been overlooked. The Modi government and its allies have completely dominated messaging over the past decade.

They sought to maintain, week in and week out, the frenetic pace and outsize enthusiasm that marked the Prime Minister’s initial march to power.

The government thought that the lesson of its sweeping re-election in 2019 was that social conservatism and welfare delivery was enough to maintain control.

But Modi and the BJP have reached the limits of welfare-first politics and saturation advertising. Without real change on the ground, he or any successor may struggle to retain power over the next five years. They will have to pay more attention to governance than to marketing.

There’s a lot that needs attention. Modi came into power promising manufacturing jobs and private-sector-friendly reforms. In this campaign, he instead argued that loans to small-scale entrepreneurs had gone up, proving that jobs were being created — and that increases in share prices for public-sector companies validated his economic performance.

This is clearly a retreat from the ambitions of a decade ago. Any new government must recapture those ambitions; voters clearly expect it.

If India’s politics have indeed returned to normal, its government must, too. Repression of the opposition does not work, not in a country this large and variegated.

For 10 years, Modi has promised to wipe out his principal rivals in the Indian National Congress party. Yet, in this election, the Congress demonstrated that it is not going anywhere.

The government arguably misused investigative agencies to go after opposition leaders in two states in particular, Maharashtra and West Bengal; both have decisively voted against the BJP.

Modi’s personal popularity is such that he and his government can survive the sort of relatively mild rebuke the electorate has delivered. To retain power for a third term, even if dependent on allies, is an historic achievement.

This result is only startling because the Modi hype had completely detached itself from reality.

We do not live, it appears, in a post-truth world. Even the most adept populists must eventually reckon with reality. None of them are immune to the most fundamental rule of politics: If you don’t perform, you perish.

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News Network
June 6,2024

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Chandigarh: Newly-elected BJP MP Kangana Ranaut on Thursday was allegedly assaulted by a woman constable of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Mohali airport when she was on her way to Delhi, officials said.

The constable has been suspended and an FIR has been lodged against her, they said.

The CISF constable allegedly assaulted Kangana while frisking her at the airport before she boarded her flight.

The Bollywood actor was elected to Lok Sabha from Mandi Constituency in Himachal Pradesh where she defeated her nearest Congress rival by over 74,000 votes.

Speaking on the incident, Kangana said that she is "safe" and alleged that there is rise in "terror and violence" in Punjab.

In the video posted on X, Kangana said, "I am getting lot of calls from my wellwishers and media... I just want to say that I am safe."

"The incident took place while I was going through security check at Chandigarh airport. While leaving, there was a lady in other cabin who was security personnel of CISF. She waited for me to cross her, then came and hit me on the side of my face and started abusing me. When I asked her why is she doing this, she said that she supports farmers' protest," Kangana said in the video.

"I am safe but my only concern is that how do we handle the rising violence and terrorism in Punjab," she asked. 

Detained

CISF constable Kulwinder Kaur posted at Chandigarh airport was immediately detained and held in the commandant office at the airport while the police started recording her statements to file an FIR.

Kulwinder Kaur was reportedly angry with actor Kangana for her derogatory remarks made on the farmers protest.

In 2021, an FIR was filed against Kangana after she referred to farmers' protests (Kisan Morcha) as a Khalistani movement and the Sikh community as Khalistani terrorists.

"Khalistani terrorists may be arm twisting the government today... But let's not forget one woman... The only woman prime minister ne inn ko apni jooti ke neeche crush kiya tha (the only woman PM who crushed them under her shoes). No matter how much suffering she caused to this nation... she crushed them like mosquitoes at the cost of her own life... Lekin desh k tukde nahi hone diye (but she did not let the nation get divided)," Kangana posed on her Instagram story.

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Agencies
June 16,2024

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Masses of pilgrims on Sunday, May 16, embarked on a symbolic stoning of the devil in Saudi Arabia. The ritual marks the final days of Hajj pilgrimage and the start of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations for Muslims around the world.

The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It came a day after more than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated on a sacred hill in Mount Ararat outside the holy city of Makkah, which Muslim pilgrims visit to perform the annual five-day rituals of Hajj.

The pilgrims left Mount Arafat on Saturday evening to spend their night in a nearby site known as Muzdalifa, where they collected pebbles they have used in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil.

The pillars are in another sacred place in Makkah, called Mina, where Muslims believe Ibrahim’s faith was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Ismail. Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. In the Christian and Jewish version of the story, Abraham is ordered to kill his other son, Isaac.

Pilgrims will spend the next three days in Mina, where they walk long distances on pedestrian-only streets toward a multi-story complex housing large pillars. There, they cast seven pebbles each at three pillars in a ritual meant to symbolize the casting away of evil and sin.

While in Mina, they will visit Makkah to perform “tawaf,” circumambulation, which is circling the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque counterclockwise seven times. They will make another circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf, at the end of Hajj and as they prepare to leave the holy city.

The rites coincide with the four-day Eid Al-Adha, which means “Feast of Sacrifice,” when Muslims with the financial means commentate Ibrahim’s test of faith through slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads and remove the shroud-like white garments worn during the pilgrimage, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal and rebirth.

Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Madinah, about 340 kilometers away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. Many wealthy Muslims make the pilgrimage more than once. The rituals largely commemorate the accounts of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Ismail, Ismail’s mother Hajjar and Prophet Muhammad, according to the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book.

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed Hajj in 2024, Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah said in a briefing, slightly less than last year’s figures when 1.84 million made the rituals.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. It is set for the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar, so its time of the year varies. And this year the pilgrimage fell in the burning summer of Saudi Arabia. The heat soared to 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 F) at Mount Arafat on Saturday.

This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of the devastating Israel-Hamas war, which has pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional conflict.

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