U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a Middle East visit in Israel on Tuesday, hoping to bolster its ceasefire with Gaza’s ruling Hamas militants and help speed humanitarian aid to the devastated Palestinian enclave.
In tandem with Blinken’s mission, Israeli authorities said they were allowing fuel, medicine and food earmarked for Gaza’s private sector to enter the territory for the first time since 11 days of cross-border hostilities started on May 10.
Blinken was also due to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Cairo and Amman, with the United States harbouring “every hope and expectation” the ceasefire would continue to hold, a senior State Department official said.
“Our primary focus is on maintaining the ceasefire, getting the assistance to the people who need it,” said the official, who spoke on Monday on the condition of anonymity. Egypt brokered the truce, in coordination with the United States.
But the official suggested it was too early for wider peace talks between Israel, in political flux after four inconclusive elections in two years, and the Palestinians, divided by enmity between Hamas and Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said a two-state solution was the only answer to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and pledged a major package with other countries to help rebuild Gaza. Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations collapsed in 2014.
Blinken’s agenda included talks in Jerusalem on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Abbas. Blinken is due to remain in the region through Thursday.
The right-wing Netanyahu, who usually avoids using the term “Palestinian state”, had been largely in lockstep with Democrat Biden’s Republican predecessor Donald Trump, who cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians and promoted a peace plan that envisaged Israel holding onto most of its settlements in the West Bank.
Hamas, which is regarded by the West as a terrorist group and opposes any Palestinian peace efforts with Israel, began cross-border rocket attacks on May 10, drawing Israeli air strikes.
The hostilities were set off in part by Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and clashes with Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
At least 253 people were killed in Gaza and more than 1,900 wounded, health authorities said, during the heaviest Israeli-Palestinian fighting in years.
The Israeli military put the death toll in Israel at 13, with hundreds treated for injuries after rocket salvoes caused panic and sent people as far away as Tel Aviv rushing into shelters.
Commercial buildings, residential towers and private houses across the Gaza Strip, where 2 million people live, were damaged or destroyed by the time the ceasefire was announced.
Israel says air strikes hit legitimate military targets and that it did its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, including giving prior warnings when it was about to strike residential buildings that it said also had a military use.
Palestinian officials put reconstruction costs at tens of millions of dollars in Gaza. Israel has blockaded the territory since 2007, in what Palestinians condemn as collective punishment. Egypt also maintains restrictions on its border with Gaza. Both countries cite security concerns for the measures.
(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah)
Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.
U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.
The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.
Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.
Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.
The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.
“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.
“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)
Man with 39 wive dies in India
A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.
With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.
Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.
The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.
They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.
Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.
“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.
“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.
Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.
She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.
Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.
Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.
A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.
The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.
It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.
Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.
Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)
Lufthansa sets 2024 goal, eyes capital increase
Virtual Law Firms Are on the Rise in Canada
Starlink Struggles in Testing
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Economy5 hours ago
G7 nations to boost climate finance
News8 hours ago
Nathaniel Veltman who killed Muslim family members to face terror charges
Sports5 hours ago
CFL to return in August
News7 hours ago
Oil prices rise to over two-year high as demand improves
Tech5 hours ago
Google dangles paid upgrade to businesses using Gmail addresses
News5 hours ago
Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal
News6 hours ago
Man with 39 wive dies in India
Media4 hours ago
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck pictured kissing as ‘Bennifer’ returns