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Pro-Israel movements protest US intention to open Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians



Pro-Israel movements protest US intention to open Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians

“This is not what real friends do. If you are a real friend, you should respect your friend’s authority and sovereignty over its territory,” said Eytan Meir, head of the international division of Im Tirtzu.

A group of more than 100 Israelis gathered on Agron Street in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday, opposite the old U.S. consulate building, protesting the Biden administration’s announced plan to reopen it as a full diplomatic mission for the Palestinian Authority within Israel’s capital.

The event was organized by Israel’s “Sovereignty Movement” with about 20 other pro-Israel NGOs serving as co-sponsors.

They believe that the establishment of a P.A. consulate in Jerusalem would amount to a de facto partition of the city and transform it into a Palestinian capital.

In May, JNS reported that during a meeting with P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised that America would reopen the

consulate, making good on an earlier campaign pledge by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Under former President Donald Trump, in 2018 the U.S. Consulate General

Jerusalem merged into the U.S. embassy, which was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as Trump implemented Congress’ Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and stating that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city.”

Recent media reports indicate that Blinken might try to fulfill Biden’s pledge in the near future, either with Israel’s approval or perhaps unilaterally.

Such an action without Israel’s consent would appear to violate Israeli, U.S. and international law.

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, head of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum think tank, explained to JNS earlier in the day that “the U.S. wants to open the consulate as a way of turning the clock back to before the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and while this would not completely undo the recognition, this would basically create a parallel acknowledgment of Palestinian claims to Jerusalem, thus undoing the notion that Jerusalem is Israel’s sole and exclusive capital.”

Kontorovich said the old U.S. consulate, opened in 1844 during the Ottoman Empire, wasn’t established as a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, “but this one is being created to have a representative office to the Palestinians—not in Ramallah, but in Jerusalem.”

He added that under that new reality, the U.S. consul general would not report to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, but directly to the State Department, sending the message that Jerusalem isn’t really part of Israel.

‘A hostile act’

Nadia Matar, co-chair of the Sovereignty Movement with Yehudit Katzover, told JNS that after exploration of the proposed consulate opening for the Palestinians, her organization understood that the intension wasn’t “to open a branch for consular services; there is something much deeper behind it.

The purpose is to erase everything Trump did before and to divide Jerusalem in order to create a Palestinian state while declaring that Jerusalem is also the capital of Palestine.”

She said “when we realized that, ‘there was no way that we could stay silent’—we have to try and prevent it.

At this moment, the Israeli government opposes the opening of a consulate, and we are here to give them the strength to continue to oppose it.”

 Pro-Israel movements protest US intention to open Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians

A demonstrator stands across from the old U.S. consulate in Jerusalem opposes efforts by the Biden administration to reopen it for Palestinian use, Oct. 27, 2021 Photo by Josh Hasten.

Matar added that keeping Jerusalem united is a consensus issue in the Israeli government, as it was with previous governments, including those led by former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin.

She said she views what’s going on as “a hostile act by the Biden administration against the people of Israel, a trampling of our sovereignty and contempt for the will of the majority of the Jewish people in Israel who oppose the division of Jerusalem and oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.”

Marc Zell, chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel and a vice president of Republicans Overseas, Inc., addressed the crowd and told JNS that while the protest was in front of the former consulate, “the most important message should be directed towards the Israeli government: ‘You have all the authority to say no to the Americans.’ ”

He added: “This is not in the interest of Israel, of the Jewish people or the millions of people around the world who love Israel. Jerusalem needs to remain united.

Reopening the Consulate General means abandoning Jerusalem.

We cannot let that happen, and the power to say ‘no’ is with [Prime Minister] Naftali Bennett, his coalition and the government of Israel.”

‘A prize to terrorism’

Naomi Kahn, director of the international division of Regavim, another sponsor, told JNS that her organization’s message was “we don’t agree to allow foreign governments, even if they are allies, to dictate Israeli policy, to divide Jerusalem or to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Similar to Zell, Kahn added that the ball is really in Israel’s court over this issue.

Eytan Meir, head of the international division of Im Tirtzu, yet another co-sponsor, told JNS that “when you have a consulate serving a foreign entity in the heart of your capital, it symbolizes that your city is not unified and shows that it is in America’s plans to cut it in half.

Furthermore, we’re not even talking about ‘eastern Jerusalem’; this is western Jerusalem.”

He added that “establishing a consulate here would give a prize to terrorism, and reward Palestinian intransigence and their stance of constantly saying no to peace.

This is not what real friends do. If you are a real friend, you should respect your friend’s authority and sovereignty over its territory.”






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ECA boss lists paths to fighting poverty in Africa



ECA boss lists paths to fighting poverty in Africa

Africa must lead the charge in mobilising domestic resources to recover from multiple economic and social crises which have deepened poverty and widened inequality on the continent, says the acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Antonio Pedro.

Pedro, who made the call in a statement on Thursday by the Communications Session of the ECA, also warned that Africa risks missing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Pedro was addressing participants at the 41st meeting of the Committee of Experts, ahead of Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, holding in Addis Ababa.

The ECA chief reminded the participants that: “Africa currently leads in global poverty.”

Pedro cautioned that without bold financial and climate action, Africa would be locked into a poverty trap.

“With more than half of the world’s poor – 54.8 percent in 2022 being in Africa, the continent had overtaken South Asia with 37.6 percent.

“COVID-19 outbreak had pushed 62 million people into poverty in just one year, with an additional 18 million estimated to have joined their ranks by the end of 2022.

“As many as 149 million non-poor remain at high risk of falling into poverty,” he said.

Pedro noted that 695 million people in Africa were either poor or face the risk of falling into poverty.

“Women and girls remain particularly vulnerable, and we are facing a potential reversal of the hard-won gains made on gender equity.

“Africa cannot just stay the course and hope that it gets better. It must lead the charge,” Pedro said.

He said the challenges were, however, not insurmountable if Africa could implement systemic change and build resilient and sustainable systems, shifting away from a primary focus on efficiency that had dominated past decades.

Pedro said investments in sustainable building up capital in critical assets including human, infrastructure, and natural resources were needed to provide an environment that could facilitate achieving the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.

“Therefore, governments must design strategies that simultaneously integrate economic, social and environmental objectives.

“First, we need to finance our development,” Pedro said.

He emphasised that getting the macroeconomic fundamentals right could unlock the potential of home-grown solutions.

“Nonetheless, Africa needs a fairer and more just global financial architecture that responds to its needs.

”Many countries currently cannot access international financial markets because of rising interest rates and unworkable existing debt relief mechanisms,” he said.

He noted that Africa must aggressively pursue sustainable industrialisation and economic diversification to transform its natural resources into tangible benefits for its people, explaining that the battery and electric value chain development was a case in point.

“Put simply, our wealth in natural resources must work for the majority, not the few. To get to this point, we must be intentional in our approach,” Pedro said.

He cited that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could increase intra-Africa trade.

“We must take center stage on climate action. While we cannot overlook the fact that we are disproportionately suffering on impact and financing alike, we have significant opportunities to rebalance the scales on climate finance,” he said.

Pedro noted that Africa rainforests and the development of its carbon markets, for instance, could unleash an estimated 82 billion dollars a year,  in value at 120 dollars per ton of CO2 sequestered, and create 167 million additional jobs.

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AfCFTA Boosts Intra-African trade by 20% — UNECA



The Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) increased intra-African trade by 20 percent in 2022.

This is against the commission’s prediction of 52 percent by 2022.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Ninth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Niamey, Niger, Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary, UNECA, said the level of trade had increased.

Pedro was then asked if the commission had achieved the objective of 52 percent intra-African trade.

“Certainly not yet. But the levels of intra-African trade have gone up from 13 percent or so, before the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement was adopted, to now around 20 percent but that is not good enough because other regions are trading amongst themselves.

“I mean, above 70 percent or so Europe, Asia. So, that certainly is our target.”

The acting executive secretary said the rise in intra-African trade, however, was already encouraging certain countries to trade amongst themselves. 

“Under the AfCFTA Trade Division, Kenya, a couple of other countries Ethiopia and so on and so forth.

“So now it’s really about scale, it is about making these movements that cover the entire continent.

“One is to look at the product complementarity between our countries, so we could have African countries trading inputs with another country where, perhaps, you have a much larger processing capacity and one example that I like to cite is between, for example, Gabon and Cameroon. 

“Cameroon has processing facilities for palm oil products that require additional inputs coming from the sub-region, and in this case, one could look at certain processed palm oil products coming from Gabon being processed in Cameroon to produce from soaps to oils to all sorts of other things.”

Pedro said these were some of the efforts which needed to happen.

He said the commission was making a trade decision supporting modelling, which was an exercise to identify the best export destinations for African countries.

However, he said the distance between African countries was much farther away than the distance between Africa and other continents.

“In the case of Cameroon that we have done one study; Nigeria certainly is the closest trade destination, however, what is very interesting is that a country that is not far from Cameroon which is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is trade distance.

“Countries that are miles away, China and the U.S. are closer trade-wise to Cameroon than DRC.

“Why is it that DRC is a trade distance is because there are issues with infrastructure. There are issues with essentially the connections and we need to address those binding constraints to Africa trading amongst themselves such as infrastructure. 

“Some are hard infrastructure that we need to invest in improving links between our respective countries, others are soft infrastructure.”

The acting executive secretary also said protocols that had been approved and some that were in the pipeline needed to be mainstreamed and domesticated in national legislation.

“We still have situations where the customs departments are not aware. I mean, we are already trading within these AfCFTA trade regimes and they do not know what is the list of 90 percent of products that can be traded without barriers or levies.

“We do not face problems in trading, and also communication about the AfCFTA needs to be improved within government departments.”

Pedro also said information needed to reach the operators on ground so that when companies or individuals were exporting, they were not faced with all sorts of barriers. 

“That is why the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area rests also in the accelerated implementation of the boosting intra-African trade data Action Plan.

“Basically, data is about addressing the binding constraints to celebrating intra-African trade which are again, a combination of hard and soft issues.”

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Nigeria, 140 countries demand Russia withdraw from Ukraine



Nigeria, 140 countries demand Russia withdraw from Ukraine

Nigeria and 140 Member States on Thursday demanded Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine, marking the one-year anniversary of the war with a call for a “just and lasting” peace.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ukraine got strong backing in a non-binding vote that saw 141 of the 193 UN members in support, including Nigeria.

Seven members opposed and 32, including China and India, abstained at the UN General Assembly emergency special session, aimed at restoring peace.

Coming on the eve of the first anniversary of the brutal war, support for Kyiv was little changed from that of last October when 143 countries voted to condemn Russia’s declared annexation of four Ukraine regions.

“Today, United Nations General Assembly has just spoken very clearly,” said European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

“This vote shows that the international community stands with Ukraine.”

The vote came after two days of debate during which Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the international community to choose “between good and evil.”

The resolution reaffirmed support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity,” rejecting any Russian claims to the parts of the country it occupies.

It also demanded “that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders,” and called “for a cessation of hostilities.”

Earlier, General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi said that for almost a full year, the world body, UN Secretary-General, and the international community had been consistent and vocal in calls to end this war and to adhere to the UN Charter and international law.

“Let this anniversary and the anguish of millions before our eyes over the last year serve as a reminder to all of us here in this Hall that military solutions will not end this war.

“Too many lives, livelihoods, families and communities have been lost. Russia can end its aggression and the war it has unleashed. Russia must end this hell of bloodshed,’’ he said.

The General Assembly’s eleventh emergency special session resumed on Wednesday with the introduction of a new draft resolution and two proposed amendments.

Also speaking, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the one-year mark stands as a “grim milestone”, and the impact is being felt far beyond Ukraine.

He called for full support of the recent UN launch of a $5.6 billion dollars humanitarian appeal for the people of Ukraine.

“While prospects may look bleak today, we know that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the UN Charter and international law,.

“The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be. We don’t have a moment to lose,’’ he said.

He called on the parties and the international community to recommit to the values, principles, and purposes of the UN Charter.

Upholding and preserving “our constitution for ‘we the peoples’ must be the common interest of all Member States,” he said.

“There is no alternative.”

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