Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UN chief visits war-scarred Gaza Strip


United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon made a brief visit Tuesday to war-ravaged Gaza, two days after donor states pledged $5.4 billion in aid to rebuild after a devastating Israeli offensive.

He was driven through the ruins of Gaza City's Shejaiya neighbourhood and the nearby Jabaliya refugee camp, the scenes of some of the heaviest shelling in Israel's military assault.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians were displaced by the destruction, and on Tuesday people camping outside their ravaged homes were seen waving at the convoy of white UN vehicles as it passed.

After meeting members of the newly convened Palestinian consensus government, Ban told reporters that the devastation he had seen was far worse than that caused in the previous Israel-Gaza conflict of winter 2008-2009.

"The destruction which I have seen while coming to here is beyond description. This is a much more serious destruction than what I saw in 2009. more

Official: Israel, Hamas to discuss prisoner exchange


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is expected to take place soon, a Hamas official said, without providing further details.

Muhammad Attoun, originally from Jerusalem but currently banned from the city, told Ma'an that "we hereby confirm there will be good omens very soon and the occupation will yield, whether they like it or not, just as they did before."

"I can confirm that there will be a deal soon to free our prisoners," Attoun added, without providing specific details.

Prisoners freed in the Shalit deal who were rearrested must be released before any serious exchange discussions can take place, the Hamas official said. more

Palestine vote: UK MPs take historic decision to recognise Palestinian state


Parliament took the historic step tonight of voting unilaterally to back the recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Voting by 274 to 12, a majority of 262, MPs on all sides urged the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

Support for the motion, while symbolic, marks a significant change in the political landscape, following the failure of successive peace negotiations and the bitter conflict in Gaza over the summer.

Significantly Labour whipped its MPs to vote in favour of the resolution, raising the prospect that the party would defy more