Volume 17 Issue 459-Jamadi ul Awal 16, 1439 AH February 02, 2018

   :: International News
::Israeli army shoots dead Palestinian teen in West Bank

Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian ministry of health has confirmed. Layth Abu Naim, 16, was shot in the head with live ammunition during a confrontation with the Israeli army in the village of al-Mughayir, northeast of the occupied West Bank town of Ramallah. According to local media, Abu Naim - a high school student - was shot at point blank range. The confrontations reportedly erupted after Israeli forces raided the village. The boy’s funeral is set to be held on Wednesday after midday prayers in his hometown. A spokeswoman for Israel’s military said “violent riots are taking place in this area and burning tires and stones were thrown at the soldiers,” according to Israeli media. The spokeswoman was “unable to confirm that any Palestinians had been hit by gunfire”. Abu Naim is the sixth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2018. Tensions in the region have increased in recent weeks after United States President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump’s December 6 move prompted deadly protests in the Palestinian territories and mass rallies in solidarity with the Palestinians across the Muslim world. US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel and the region increased animosity amongst Palestinians towards the US. His speech in the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on January 22 was laden with praise for Israel. On Tuesday, a group of Palestinians protested the arrival of an American delegation to the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The delegation was reportedly there to hold a training session on digital commerce, according to Israeli media. A video shared on social media showed protestors entering the meeting room holding signs and chanting against the US administration’s decision surrounding Jerusalem, after which the delegation packed up and left.
Source: Al-Jazeera

::LHC issues notices to Nawaz, Maryam and Rana Sana over contempt of court allegations

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday issued notices to former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah over contempt of court allegations.
The notices were issued following a petition filed by Amna Malik on Monday accused Nawaz, Maryam and Sanaullah of inciting hatred against the judiciary in their speeches at the PML-N’s Jaranwala rally on January 27.
Malik’s lawyer urged the court to issue a notice to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority as well for permitting the broadcast of speeches critical of the judiciary.
The lawyer requested the court to take action against the nominated parties. The court ordered all parties submit their responses and adjourned the case until Feb 14.
The father-daughter Sharif duo have drawn ire for their criticism of the Supreme Court’s (SC) Panamagate verdict which disqualified the former PM for failing to disclose a receivable salary as an asset.
The PML-N chief and Maryam, as well as other party leaders, have accused the court of bias and prejudice against Nawaz and have termed the decision an “insult” to the “public’s vote”. Multiple petitions have been filed in different courts against them accusing them of contempt of court.

::Quake tremors jolt various parts of Pakistan, 1 girl killed and 15 injured

A minor girl was killed and at least 15 others injured as a 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted various parts of the country on Wednesday, DawnNews reported.
Tremors were reported in Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Charsadda, Murree, Sargodha, Shangla, Haripur and Gujranwala, as well as parts of India, Kashmir and Afghanistan.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake is 35 kilometres south of Jarm in Afghanistan. The depth of the quake was estimated to be 191.2km, USGS added.
Jarm, was hit by a devastating 7.5 magnitude quake in October 2015, triggering landslides and flattening buildings, killing more than 380 people across the region. The bulk of the recorded casualties were in Pakistan, where 248 people were killed, including 202 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and more than 1,600

::US: Kansas judge temporarily suspends anti-BDS law

A US judge has temporarily blocked the implementation of a law that bars anyone from entering into a contract with the state of Kansas without first pledging they will not boycott Israel. US District Court judge Daniel Crabtree granted the temporary injunction on Tuesday in response to a lawsuit filed by Kansas public school teacher Esther Koontz late last year. Passed in June 2017, the Kansas legislation requires all state contractors to declare in writing that they do not support a boycott of Israel. Koontz argues the law violates her rights under the First Amendment. In his ruling, Crabtree wrote: “The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented Koontz in court, welcomed the decision. “The court has rightly recognised the serious First Amendment harms being inflicted by this misguided law, which imposes an unconstitutional ideological litmus test,” said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss in a statement. Koontz, a public school math teacher, was asked to sign a document saying she was not boycotting Israel in July 2017 before she could work as a trainer in a state-run math and science programme, the court filing states. However she had begun boycotting Israeli companies and Israeli companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories last year in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. After refusing to sign the form, she was not given the contract, the case states. “This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts,” Hauss said. Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, welcomed the court’s decision, saying on Twitter that “the 1st Amendment triumphed today”. The Kansas legislation comes amid a growing crackdown in the US on the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Launched in 2005, BDS seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and respect the rights of Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens of the state. Last October, Wisconsin also passed a law barring state agencies from entering into contracts with entities that are “engaging in a boycott of Israel”. Also in October, the governor of Maryland signed an executive order blocking firms that boycott Israel from receiving state contracts that same month. As of this month, 24 states have enacted anti-BDS laws, according to Palestine Legal, a US-based legal advocacy group. Eleven other states have anti-BDS legislation pending. A US Senate bill, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, has also been proposed and would bar US citizens from supporting “restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by any international governmental organisation against Israel”. Source: Al-Jazeera

::Saudi Arabia seizes more than $100bn in settlements

Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said that the kingdom has seized more than $100bn in anti-corruption settlements. The amount - SAR400bn ($106.7bn) - represented various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, cash and more, Mojeb said in a statement released by the government’s information office on Tuesday. He added that the total number of individuals summoned for questioning reached 381, while 65 remained in custody as part of a nationwide “anti-corruption purge”. The statement came as Saudi authorities released all remaining detainees from the Ritz-Carlton hotel, after more than two months of detention on allegations of corruption. “There are no longer any detainees left at the Ritz-Carlton,” a Saudi official told Reuters News Agency earlier on Tuesday. Dozens of royal family members, ministers, and top businessmen were arrested in early November during an “anti-corruption crackdown” launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Allegations against those detained included money laundering, bribery, extorting officials. Those arrested were held collectively in the country’s Ritz-Carton hotel. Meanwhile, the hotel was closed to normal business. On Saturday, prominent Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released as signs of the purge appeared to be winding down. Prince Alwaleed said during an exclusive Reuters interview that there were “no charges” against him. The crackdown, which came about via a royal decree in November 2017, was in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to illicitly accrue money”. Mahjoob Zweiri, a Doha-based professor of contemporary Arab politics, said that the purge is part of Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to consolidate economic, as well as political power in Saudi Arabia. “That required destroying other economic empires in Saudi Arabia,” he told Al Jazeera. Zweiri noted that the nature of charges against those who were detained remains unclear, and that there may be more details of cases revealed - but not in the near future. “There has been a case of mistrust,” he said. “And the authorities will follow up [with those released] to make sure no one is speaking about what happened to maintain the government’s narrative of the story.” According to Zweiri, the purge was a warning message, and only those who play the “politics” and maintain links to the monarch, will be able to conduct business activities in the kingdom. “Again it’s about how well linked you are to the new establishment. There is no accountability … the corruption will of course continue - but in different ways”.
Source: Al-Jazeera

::In first State of the Union address, Trump vows to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open

President Donald Trump made a pitch for national unity and strong borders in his maiden State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling for “one team, one people, and one American family” after a year plagued by acrimony, division and scandal.
He also announced that he would keep Guantanamo Bay open, breaking from his predecessor Barack Obama’s lengthy and ultimately failed efforts to shutter the maligned detention facility.
“I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay,” Trump said, in his address to Congress, in keeping with a campaign promise.
On the campaign trail, Trump had famously vowed he would load Guantanamo with “bad dudes” and said it would be “fine” if US terror suspects were sent there for trial.
Though Obama could not closed Guantanamo, the population had dropped from 242 to 41 under his watch.
During his speech, the president also said that he wanted Congress to pass a law ensuring US foreign aid goes only “to America’s friends” — a reference likely to his frustration at US aid recipients that voted at the UN to rebuke his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Curbs on immigration
Over the years the State of the Union address, a set piece of the American political calendar, has lost some of its impact and pizzazz. But the primetime address, watched by as many as 40 million Americans, was still a once-in-a-year opportunity for Trump to speak to the nation and mend his sunken approval ratings, languishing around 40 percent.
Seeking to enliven his own base, Trump spoke at length on the need for immigration reform, equating immigrants with criminals and economic tension.

::Pakistan ready to extend rail link agreement with India

ISLAMABAD: Despite tense ties with New Delhi due to frequent ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and Working Boundary, Pakistan on Tuesday gave its consent for a three-year extension to an agreement with India on Munabao-Khokhrapar rail link.
“The government of Pakistan has agreed to extend the agreement of the rail link between Munabao (India)and Khokhrapar (Pakistan) for another three years,” a Foreign Office statement said.
The extension will take effect from Feb 1, 2018.
The rail link facilitates people-to-people contact that Pakistan believes is essential for improving relations between the two countries, the FO said.
The signing of the rail link agreement in 2006 had restored the route after 41 years. The connection substantially reduced travel time between Sindh (Pakistan) and central and southern Indian states.
Over 200 ceasefire violations by India have taken place so far this year, resulting in the killing of 12 people, including four soldiers. Since 2003, the highest number of ceasefire violations by India (1,881) was recorded last year with 87 killings. Earlier this month, Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat had admitted that his troops were deliberately targeting Pakistani posts.

::Saudi Arabia bans expatriates from 12 job types

Saudi Arabia has banned the kingdom’s expatriates from working in 12 occupational domains, making them available to Saudi nationals only. The decision by Minister of Labour Ali bin Nasser al-Ghafis will take effect starting September 2018, SPA news agency reported on Sunday. The ministerial decree’s objective is to grant Saudi men and women more job opportunities in the private sector, SPA said. Labour ministry spokesman Khalid Abalkhail, said the jobs were mostly in sales: sales in watches, eyewear, medical equipment and devices, electrical and electronic appliances, auto parts, building materials, automobiles, furniture stores, and more. He also noted that a committee would be formed to facilitate the project. The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia surpassed 12 percent last year as the economy grappled with the fallout from low oil prices. The move comes amid nationwide changes to revamp the economy by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Tuesday, a high-profile “anti-corruption purge” appeared to be winding down as Saudi authorities released all remaining detainees from the Ritz-Carlton hotel, after more than two months of detention on allegations of corruption. Dozens of royal family members, ministers, and top businessmen were arrested in early November during an “anti-corruption crackdown” launched by Bin Salman. Allegations against those detained included money laundering, bribery and extorting officials. Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said that the kingdom had seized more than $100bn in anti-corruption settlements. The amount - 400bn Saudi riyals ($106.7bn) - represented various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, cash and more. The government’s Vision 2030 plan to revitalise and diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy has seen the kingdom introduce a value-added tax (VAT), which applies to a wide range of commodities, including food, clothes, entertainment, electronics, and utility bills. Saudi Arabia also halted state payments of water and electricity bills for royal family members.
Source: Al-Jazeera




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