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Status quo on Israeli-Palestinian issue unsustainable: Barack Obama

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  • As 2 Killed in Clashes Over Demolition of Arab Bedouin Village in Israel

US President Barack Obama has said that he continues to be “significantly worried” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the status quo is unsustainable, and dangerous for the people in the region as well as for America’s national security.

“I continue to be significantly worried about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And I’m worried about it both because I think the status quo is unsustainable, that it is dangerous for Israel, that it is bad for Palestinians, it is bad for the region, and it’s bad for America’s national security,” Obama told mediapersons yesterday in his final press conference as the US President.

He said when he came to office wanting to do everything he could to encourage serious peace talks between Israel and Palestine and that his administration invested a lot of energy, time and effort in these eight years.

“Ultimately, what has always been clear is that we cannot force the parties to arrive at peace. What we can do is facilitate, provide a platform, encourage. But we can’t force them to do it,” he said.

“But in light of shifts in Israeli politics and Palestinian politics, a rightward drift in Israeli politics; a weakening of President Abbas’ ability to move and take risks on behalf of peace in the Palestinian Territories, in light of all the dangers that have emerged in the region and the understandable fears that Israelis may have about the chaos and rise of groups like ISIL (ISIS) and the deterioration of Syria,” Obama said.

“In light of all those things, what we at least wanted to do, understanding that the two parties wouldn’t actually arrive at a final status agreement, is to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution,” he said.

Stressing that there is no alternative to a two-State solution, the outgoing US President said that he has said this to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I’ve said it inside of Israel. I’ve said it to Palestinians, as well,” he added.

“I don’t see how this issues gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy, because if you do not have two states, then in some form or fashion you are extending an occupation, functionally you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class residents. You can’t even call them citizens, necessarily,” Obama said.

“And so the goal of the resolution was to simply say that the growth of the settlements are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible,” he asserted.

Talking about Donald Trump’s stand on the issue, Obama

said, “so the President-elect will have his own policy. The ambassador, or the candidate for the ambassadorship obviously has very different views than I do. That is their prerogative”.

“That’s part of what happens after elections. And I think my views are clear. We’ll see how their approach plays itself out,” he said while responding to a question on the Israeli policy of the incoming Trump Administration.

In an apparent reference to Trump’s plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Obama said that sudden unilateral moves could be explosive.

“I don’t want to project today what could end up happening, but obviously it’s a volatile environment. What we’ve seen in the past is, when sudden, unilateral moves are made that speak to some of the core issues and sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive,” he said.

Noting that the United States is the biggest kid on the block, Obama said it is right and appropriate for a new President to test old assumptions and reexamine the old ways of doing things.

“But if you’re going to make big shifts in policy, just make sure you’ve thought it through and understand that there are going to be consequences, and actions typically create reactions, and so you want to be intentional about it,” he said.

“You don’t want to do things off the cuff when it comes to an issue this volatile,” Obama said.

In the meantime, one policeman and one villager was killed Wednesday in clashes in the Arab Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in Israel before a planned demolition operation.

The clashes broke out between Israeli police and the Arab villagers as Israeli authorities prepared to demolish several structures that the government says are illegal constructions.

The villagers of Umm al-Hiran are Israeli citizens and members of a Bedouin tribe who have lived on the same plot of land since the late 50s. In 1957, the Israeli military forcefully removed the tribe from their original land in Khirbet Zubale.

But 60 years later, after more than a decade of court cases, the state wants that land back to build a Jewish town. Last year, Israel’s high court ruled in favor of the government’s plans.

Aerial footage released by the Israeli authorities shows police approaching a white SUV. At the four-second mark, a police officer approaches the car and shoots. He pops off at least three shots as the car remains still. It’s unclear exactly what his shots hit. Then the car accelerates down a steep hill and veers into a crowd of policemen before careening into another vehicle and coming to a stop.

Israeli police called the incident a deliberate “car-ramming” attack by a Bedouin with Israeli citizenship, identified as 50-year-old school teacher Yaakub Abu al-Qiyan. The police officer killed was identified as 37-year-old Erez Levy. Al-Qiyan died of gunshot wounds.

Locals who were at the scene said that the driver lost control of his vehicle only after he was shot by police. He had his whole life packed into the SUV and he was trying to leave the village, locals said.

The Israeli police have already called al-Qiyan a “terrorist,” and said they are investigating his possible affiliation with ISIS, but no supporting evidence was immediately made public.

“This is the second ramming attack within the space of a few days. We are fighting this murderous phenomenon which has hit both in Israel and in other parts of the world,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said, referring to recent vehicular attacks in Israel and Europe.

Several other people were injured in the clashes that followed, including Knesset Member Ayman Odeh. Odeh and other Arab leaders had been at the village all night awaiting the forced Israeli evacuation.

“The policemen attacked me, brutally beating me,” said Odeh. “We did not try to stir things up – it is plain and simple. We wanted to negotiate. What happened is a disgrace.”

Amnesty International has called for an investigation into possible police brutality in the day’s violence.

“The Israeli judiciary and the government are responsible for the killing in the village today,” the Arab advocacy group Adalah said in a statement. “The Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to allow the state to proceed with its plan to demolish the village, which has existed for 60 years, in order to establish a Jewish town called ‘Hiran’ over its ruins, is one of the most racistjudgments that the Court has ever issued.”

The Negev desert accounts for over half of Israel’s land mass, but only about 10 percent of Israeli citizens live there, including more than 100,000 Bedouins. Umm al-Hiran is one of dozens of so-called “unrecognized” villages, and according to Amnesty International, they live without electricity, water, and other basic services the state refuses to provide.

“The Bedouin public is a part of us,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday, “We want to integrate it into Israeli society and not to polarize it and cause it to distance itself from the focus of our existence here.”

Some five of the village’s 70 structures were demolished Wednesday, according to journalists on the ground.

By the time the dust cleared and the sun set Wednesday, several of the village’s former inhabitants were left picking through the remains of their homes.

Zee News with additional report from Abc News

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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