Saturday, 4 May 2013

Denmark, Finland to upgrade Palestinian diplomatic status

COPENHAGEN (AFP) -- Denmark and Finland plan to upgrade the status of their respective Palestinian representative offices in Copenhagen and Helsinki to that of an embassy, the Danish foreign ministry said Saturday.

"It is with satisfaction that we announce our joint intention to work with the Palestinians to be able to upgrade the status of the Palestinian missions in Copenhagen and Helsinki," the foreign ministers of Finland and Denmark, Villy Soevndal and Erkki Tuomioja, said in a joint statement.

The changes are expected to be implemented sometime in 2013, it said.

The move would "not entail a formal bilateral recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state by Denmark and Finland," the statement said.

"Palestine is in a phase of state-building, and many challenges remain for president (Mahmoud) Abbas to handle before we can recognize Palestine formally as a state," it said. more

Sheffield University dumps Veolia, capping successful year for UK student Palestine movement

The University of Sheffield has decided not to renew its waste collection contract with multinational corporation Veolia following a campaign initiated by the campus Palestine Society and supported by the student union. The campaign called on the university to cut ties with the company over its contracts with the Israeli state to provide waste and transport services to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Sheffield Student Union voted to support boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns by a large majority in a referendum held in October, and the student union and other campus groups actively supported the campaign against Veolia.

In a statement released last night, Sheffield University Palestine Society said:
This comes after a year of concerted action and protest by the Palestine Society and the wider student body against the presence of Veolia on campus, as part of the Students’ Union’s campaign of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against perpetrators of war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories …

Soldiers invade Kufur Qaddoum, clash with local youths

Israeli soldiers, supported by an armored military bulldozer and armored vehicles, invaded the village of Kufur Qaddoum, near the northern West Bank city of Qilqilia, after violently dispersing the weekly protest, and clashed with dozens of local youth; several injuries have been reported.

Villagers hold weekly protests against the ongoing closure of the main road of the village, blocking its main entrance since many years, and against the ongoing construction of the Annexation Wall and settlements on lands that belong to the residents.

Local sources reported that the army attacked the village from different directions, and fired dozens of gas bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets at local youths who hurled stones at the invading army, and sprayed them with waste-water mixed with chemicals. Me

dical sources in the village have reported that dozens of residents have been treated for the effects of teargas inhalation, while one reporter, identified as Aref Tuffaha, was injured in the head after being hit by a gas bomb fired by the army. more

Israeli airstrikes hit Syria as regional escalation looms

DAMASCUS (AFP) -- Israeli warplanes have targeted a Syrian weapons shipment headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon, media quoted US officials as saying Saturday, as Sunnis were fleeing a city for fear of a massacre.

The news came as US President Barack Obama, under mounting criticism that he has allowed Bashar Assad's regime to cross his own declared "red line" on using chemical weapons, came close to ruling out deploying US troops to Syria.

CNN said US and Western intelligence agencies were reviewing information suggesting Israel likely conducted a strike overnight on Thursday.

But the United States does not believe Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace to carry out the strikes, it added.

NBC cited US officials as saying it was believed the primary target was a weapons shipment headed for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite militant group closely allied to President Assad's regime. more