Issue 284, Friday 28 December 2012 - 14 Safar 1434
Israel to keep Palestinian funds for months
Israel will withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian administration until at least March, in response to the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the UN, Israel’s Foreign Minister said.
Under current peace deals, Israel collects about $100 million every month in duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank. That money is primarily used to pay public sector salaries.
“The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent in the coming four months, and in four months’ time we will decide how to proceed,” Avigdor Lieberman, Israel Foreign Minister, said in a speech on Dec 11.
Israel says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas violated previous peace accords by side-stepping stalled negotiations and securing a Palestinian status upgrade in the UN last month.
The December funds transfer has already been withheld, with Israel saying that the money would be used to begin payments on the $200 million the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric corporation.
Tear gas fired to disperse Kuwait protesters
Kuwaiti security forces fired tear gas to disperse a protest on Nov 4 by thousands of opposition supporters. Demonstrators had gathered on a road at Mishref, about 20km south of Kuwait City, after troops and police prevented a march in the capital. Last month, the authorities banned gatherings of more than 20 people. The organisers called the rally to express the opposition’s rejection of changes to the electoral law ahead of parliamentary polls on Dec 1.
A decree issued by Sabah al-Ahmed Al Sabah on 19 October reduced the number of votes cast by each Kuwaiti from four to one. Critics said this gave pro-Govt candidates an advantage. The opposition, which had a majority in the National Assembly until the Constitutional Court declared February’s elections illegal and reinstated the previous parliament, has said it will boycott next month’s polls.
Somalia to get first female foreign minister
Somalia is to get its first female foreign minister in a cabinet formed by new PM Abdi Farah Shirdon. Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan is among 10 politicians joining a cabinet on Nov 4 that has been significantly reduced in size.
She described her inclusion as “historic” for both the country and Somali women in particular.
Shirdon took office last month after his nomination - by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud - was approved by MPs. The election of Mohamud in September was considered the first fair poll in the capital Mogadishu for 42 years.
Atrocities against East Africans rise in Yemen
Thousands of economic migrants from the Horn of Africa are increasingly being exposed to violence in the gulf nation of Yemen, a new report uncovers.
The report released the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat revealed that East African migrants, most of them Ethiopians, are regularly being subjected to extreme inhumane abuses including kidnapping, rape and other forms of torture upon their arrival in Yemen.
Kidnappers request up to $300 ransom to free hostages and prevent further torture against a held African migrant, the report said.
South Sudan expels UN officer
South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan last year after decades of civil war, expelled UN’s human rights officer after the Govt objected to a report raising allegations of atrocities by South Sudan’s army, the organization said on Nov 4.
Head of the UN’s mission in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, described the expulsion as a “breach of legal obligations” and asked South Sudan for “clarification.”
Human rights monitoring “must be protected,” Ms Johnson said in a statement. “Human rights violations and discrimination were at the core of the South Sudanese struggle during decades of civil war.”
The report, published by the UN in June, accused South Sudan’s military of widespread abuses while trying to disarm civilians in South Sudan’s Jonglei State after a surge of tribal violence. South Sudan condemned the report as one-sided.
Iraq violence drops off sharply in October
Levels of violence in Iraq last month dropped off dramatically despite a string of attacks over the Eid al-Adha that were claimed by Al-Qa’ida, stats released on Nov 1 showed.
Casualty tolls compiled separately by Govt officials and AFP both showed a significant decline, dropping to the lowest level since the beginning of the summer.
A total of 144 people were killed (88 civilians) in Oct, according to figures compiled by Iraq’s Ministries of Health, Interior and Defence. An AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials, meanwhile, put the figure at 136 dead.
Overall, 264 people were wounded, including 110 civilians, 92 policemen and 62 soldiers, the Govt figures showed.
The death toll compiled by officials represented a sharp decline from September, when nationwide violence left 365 dead, and was the lowest such figure since June.
Levels of violence are markedly lower nationwide since Iraq's sectarian war of 2006 and 2007, but attacks are still common.