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Pakistan backs ‘two-state formula’ to end Palestinian-Israel conflict

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Pakistan backs ‘two-state formula’ to end Palestinian-Israel conflict

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan told the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday that the ‘two-state formula’ offers the only viable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the rising extremism in Israeli leadership “must not be allowed to foreclose the two-state solution”.

Ambassador Munir Akram rejected all Israeli measures and attempts to alter the historical and legal status quo of Al Aqsa mosque and demanded full respect for the status quo at Al Aqsa and all other holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Pakistan urged the Security Council to “act swiftly and resolutely to bring a halt to all such Israeli violations, ensure its full compliance with international law, and implement its own resolutions”.

Ambassador Akram said Pakistan was looking forward to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal implications of Israeli occupation.

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“We expect that the court’s opinion will lead to Israeli accountability for its crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory. It is a measure of Israel’s sense of impunity that it has taken punitive measures against the Palestinian authorities and people for merely seeking the court’s opinion,” he said.

Israel is incensed over a UN General Assembly resolution in late December requesting that the ICJ offer an opinion on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and has imposed fresh sanctions on Palestinian authorities.

UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, told a special UNSC session on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories that he was “very concerned about the impact” on the finances of the Palestinian Authority from a series of retaliatory Israeli sanctions.

The council heard a worrying assessment of the situation from a senior UN official, who informed the world body about spiralling insecurity in the occupied West Bank.

According to UN radio, Mr Wennesland described how armed exchanges between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians were creating new tensions in the region. He said that between Dec 8 and Jan 13, at least 14 Palestinians were killed — including five children — “during demonstrations, clashes, search-and-arrest operations, attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis”.

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Israeli settlers or other civilians also perpetrated more than 60 attacks against Palestinians, resulting in injuries to 28, including six children, Mr Wennesland said.

The UN official pointed out that the areas under PNA’s control saw “a high proportion” of all casualties.

Mr Wennesland reiterated that “all perpetrators of all acts of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice”.

According to a UN statement, participants at Wednesday’s debate underscored the importance of the two-state solution and the need to avoid all measures and actions that would undermine its realisation.

Mr Wennesland told the Security Council that it was “imperative” for both Israel and Palestinians to refrain “from provocations and unilateral steps that undermine… the ability to achieve a negotiated peace”.

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Ahead of its Dec 29 swearing-in, the new Israeli government declared that the Jewish people had an exclusive right to all parts of the occupied land and issued fresh eviction notices.

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

 The African National Congress and its largest rival, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance, agreed on Friday to work together in South Africa’s new government of national unity, a step change after 30 years of ANC majority rule.

Once unthinkable, the deal between two sharply antagonistic parties is the most momentous political shift in South Africa since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the 1994 elections that marked the end of apartheid.

“Today, South Africa is a better country than it was yesterday. For the first time since 1994, we’ve embarked on a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to a new government that will be different from the previous one,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a televised address.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said, adding that multi-party government was the “new normal”.

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The ANC lost its majority for the first time in an election on May 29 and has spent two weeks locked in intensive behind-the-scenes talks with other parties, which came down to the wire on Friday morning as the new parliament was convening.

The DA’s entry into national government is a big moment for a country still processing the legacy of the racist colonial and apartheid regimes. The party has struggled to shake off its image as a defender of rich white people and convince a broad spectrum of South Africans that it reflects their aspirations.

Two smaller parties, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance, will also take part in the unity government, they said. 

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Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

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Hamas' armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government “does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins,” the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza’s al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

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The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. 

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

A Canadian navy patrol ship sailed into Havana early on Friday, just hours after the United States announced a fast-attack submarine had docked at its Guantanamo naval base on Cuba, both vessels on the heels of Russian warships that arrived on the island earlier this week.

The confluence of Russian, Canadian and U.S. vessels in Cuba – a Communist-ruled island nation just 160 km (100 miles) from Florida – served up a reminder of old Cold War tensions and of current fraught ties between Russia and Western nations over the Ukraine war.

However, both the U.S. and Cuba have said the Russian warships pose no threat to the region. Russia has also characterized the arrival of its warships in allied Cuba as routine.

The Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, half submerged with its crew on deck, sailed into Havana harbor on Wednesday after conducting “high-precision missile weapons” training in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Canada`s Margaret Brooke patrol vessel began maneuvers early on Friday to enter Havana harbor, part of what the Canadian Joint Operations Command called “a port visit…in recognition of the long-standing bilateral relationship between Canada and Cuba.”

A Canadian diplomat characterized the Margaret Brooke`s arrival as “routine and part of long-standing cooperation between our two countries”, adding it was “unrelated to the presence of the Russian ships.”

Russia and Cuba were close allies under the former Soviet Union and tensions with Washington over Communism in its “backyard” peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Moscow, which has maintained ties with Havana, has questioned the apparent nervousness of the West over the warships this week. 

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