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Palestine to ask India to replace US as sole mediator in negotiations with Israel, says official



Palestine to ask India to replace US as sole mediator in negotiations with Israel, says official

In the decades of bonhomie between India and the Palestinians, including with the chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Yasser Arafat – and despite India being one of the first nations to recognise the Palestinian area as an autonomous region, virtually a nation – no Indian Prime Minister had ever set foot on that soil; neither on the West Bank, nor on the Gaza Strip. Till Saturday (February 10), when Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Ramallah in the West Bank and held bilateral talks with President Mahmoud Abbas.

India’s idea is to reaffirm India’s support for the Palestinian people, and that is important in the backdrop of the massive Indian relationship build-up with Israel soon after the BJP dispensation took over the country.

What Palestine expects from India

The influential Arab News daily has quoted a senior official as saying that President Abbas will ask Modi to support a multi-country sponsorship that would replace the United States as the sole mediator in future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The daily quoted Palestinian official Nabil Shaath as saying that Modi is to hold talks with Abbas and sign cooperation agreements worth about $50 million.

Abbas has sought European and Arab support for replacing the US as the sole Mideast mediator.

Backchannel diplomacy

Indian diplomats have been continuing backchannel talks with the Palestinians and each time Modi meets Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a corresponding talk session with Abbas is organised. Before the recent visit of Netanyahu to India, a visit of Abbas to India was quickly finalised and gone through. The diplomatic balance has been kept, somewhat, though the earlier close friendship with the Palestinians may have eased.

When Modi first visited Israel last year, he did not go to Ramallah. That had created a diplomatic storm and a huge belief that India was abandoning its long-time friend and turning its back on its people. Indian diplomats have almost set this right thereafter Abbas’ recent comment that India can play a major role in the complicated politics of West Asia would certainly precent relations from de-hinging.

One has to remember that this trip of Modi comes within the confusion that US President Donald Trump has created by unilaterally declaring that US would be shifting its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, acknowledging the disputed city as Israel’s capital.

India has so far refrained from commenting on this development, and how Modi will be dealing with this if asked a direct question is to be seen.

The basic idea of an Indian trip here – it is the first leg of a three-nation trip, the other countries being the USE (Riyadh) and Oman (Muscat) – is to stress on India’s de-hyphenating of relationship with Israel and Palestine. India does not want to be burdened with old baggage and wants to start a new process in the region.

The 82-year-old President of Palestine is a respected politician and he has said recently: “We will discuss the recent updates with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the recent developments in the peace process, the bilateral relations, and the regional situations, and the possible role India can play in enhancing peace in the region, as well as discussing different economical aspects beyond the existing ties we already possess.”

That is easier said than done, because India’s sudden involvement in the area could lead to a deterioration of relations with Israel, especially with several technical (including defence) tie-ups having already been signed. It has also to be understood that India’s position, vis-a-vis the region has undergone a sea change. Palestine is waiting for huge investments in real estate development, in water resources and energy development, apart from small industries that can provide employment within the regions without their youth having to travel into the walled area of Israel to earn a living.

On his trip Modi will lay a wreath at the Mausoleum of Arafat. During this he will be accompanied by his Palestinian counterpart Rami Hamdallah.

Hs will also visit the Arafat Museum before being received in a ceremony by President Abbas.

The travel to Ramallah for Modi was not direct. His plane landed in Amman, Jordan, from where he took a helicopter to Ramallah. He will return by the same route before leaving for Riyadh. However, he will not be moving into Jordan on this trip.

Latest world news

Pakistan man sentenced to death for sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp

The accused, identified as Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, was also fined Rs 1.2 million or $4300 and awarded imprisonment of total of 23 years.



Pakistan man sentenced to death for sharing blasphemous content on WhatsApp

Pakistan court on Friday gave a death sentence to a Muslim man for posting blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group. The accused was convicted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorist Act by a Peshawar court.

The accused, identified as Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, was also fined Rs 1.2 million or $4300 and awarded imprisonment of total of 23 years.

The court in an order said that an accused Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, son of Syed Zakaullah in custody has been convicted and sentenced after being found guilty. Zeeshan, a resident of the northwest city of Mardan, has the right to appeal against the court’s conviction order on the highly-sensitive issue of blasphemy in Pakistan.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive topic in Pakistan, a country with a majority of Muslims, where even unverified accusations can incite mobs and violence.

Zeeshan was undergoing court proceedings in the same case for almost two years after Muhammad Saeed, a resident of Talagang in Punjab province, accused him of posting blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group. Saeed filed an application with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in 2021 againsy Zeeshan for blasphemous content.

As per the reports, the FIA had confiscated Zeeshan’s cell-phone and its forensic examination proved him guilty.

In the past 20 years, 774 Muslims and 760 members of various minority religious groups have reportedly faced blasphemy charges, according to the National Commission of Justice and Peace, a human rights and legal help organisation in Pakistan.

Last month, Pakistan banned Wikipedia after it refused to remove the allegedly offensive or blasphemy material from the website.

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Latest world news

Five news stations receive letter bombs in Ecuador, one explodes in journalist’s face

Minister says the bombs were sent as a clear message to silence journalists in violence-ridden Ecuador



Police officials searching for bombs in a new station in Ecuador

Ecuadorean authorities have reported that a series of letter bombs were mailed to five different TV and radio new stations in Ecaudor. The explosive devices were delivered to journalists on Monday, March 20.

Interior Minister Juan Zapata informed that one of these letters exploded in Guayaquil’s Ecuavisa private TV station. The bomb burst in the middle of the newsroom in presenter Lenin Artieda’s face. He was injured but not severely. Lenin informed the police that the device was structured like a USB drive, and it exploded as he plugged it into his computer.

Zapata added that all the devices were similar and sent from the town of Quimsaloma, on the Los Rios coast. The Ecuadorean attorney-general’s department has begun their investigation on the letters as an act of terrorism. Journalists have said that the bombs were sent to intimidate the free press and silence the media.

 Zapata also said that the government condemns such attacks and freedom of expression is a right that must be respected. The other four explosives sent through post never exploded as they failed or were never opened.

Police officer Xavier Chango informed the USB drive sent to Artieda seemed to be loaded with a military-type explosive RDX.

Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, and has become a hub for global drug trade in the recent years. The increased violence is a result of competition and clashes between drug criminal gangs for territory and charge.

In 2022, the RTS TV station came under gunfire attack and in 2020, a bomb exploded at Teleamazonas. President Guillermo Lasso had declared war on the gangs controlling drug trade from prisons, and has led to the death of more than 400 inmates since 2021. Ecuador’s murder rate has jumped from 14 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 25 per 100,000 in 2022.

Two local gangs, the Lobos and Los Tiguerones, working with Mexico’s Jalisco New Generation cartel, have been responsible for these deadly prison riots. The Jalisco cartel is considered one of the five most dangerous criminal organizations in the world and its leader, Nemesio Oseguera, aka El Mencho, is among the most wanted by both Mexican and U.S. authorities.

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India News

Earthquake leaves 11 dead in Pakistan, tremors shake North India

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled parts of Northern India on Tuesday night, left at least 11 people dead and over 160 others wounded in neighboring Pakistan, reports said.



Pakistan Earthquake

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled parts of Northern India on Tuesday night, left at least 11 people dead and over 160 others wounded in neighboring Pakistan, reports said.

According to reports by Pakistani media, tremors were felt in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, and other areas of the country. In a statement, Pakistan Meteorological Department said the epicenter of the quake—which hit at a depth of 180 kilometers, at a latitude of 36.09 and a longitude of 71.35. — was the seismically active Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan.

Reports said that tremors and aftershocks were also witnessed in Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kot Momin, Madh Ranjha, Chakwal, Kohat and in Gilgit-Baltistan areas.

Pakistani news channels showed panicked citizens running out of their home and on the streets to seek refuge from the tremors.

According to a report by Pakistan-based Geo News, eleven people, including two women were killed while over 160 people were injured due to the earthquake.

Read Also: Delhi Police crackdown on anti-Modi posters, police arrest 4 including owner of printing press, 44 cases registered

The strong jolts also led to the collapse of several buildings in impacted regions while a stamped was witnessed in markets of Rawalpindi when the earthquake hit, according to The Express Tribune newspaper.

State-run Associated Press of Pakistan released a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has directed disaster management authorities to remain vigilant to handle any situation while Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel declared an emergency in Islamabad hospitals.

A statement by the international seismological centre said that apart from Pakistan, tremors were also felt in India, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Kyrgyzstan.

Tremors of the earthquake, that hit at around 10:17 pm on Tuesday night, were felt across Northern India including Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. However, no casualties were reported. However, reports of damages to buildings are coming in from different parts of North India.

6.6 magnitude earthquake hits Delhi-NCR

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