UN Stands By Claim Israeli Settlements Are “Provocative Acts”
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last week described Israel’s plans to build more settlements in the West Bank as a “provocative” act which raised questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.
Ban doubled-down on his assertion in an op-ed today in The New York Times, and expressed concern that the recent stalemate between the sides could lead to further evaporation of any hope for a political solution.
“I will always stand up to those who challenge Israel’s right to exist, just as I will always defend the right of Palestinians to have a state of their own. That is why I am so concerned that we are reaching a point of no return for the two-state solution. And I am disturbed by statements from senior members of Israel’s government that the aim should be abandoned altogether,” he wrote.
“Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution,” said Ban in remarks that drew a quick response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In response to Ban’s comments last week, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Dion said the secretary general was ignoring the “reality” on the ground in Israel and contended the remarks were not a means to fight terrorism, but to promote it.
The contretemps were prompted last week when Israeli security forces removed some settlers from Palestinian homes they said had been purchased and were rightly theirs. Israel’s defense minister argued they had taken the homes illegally and moved to evict them from the homes, a move that did not sit well with right-wing members of the government.
Israel also confirmed Israel last Thursday that it was planning to appropriate a large tract of land in the West Bank, which sparked Secretary Ban to respond in his UN speech.
Pakistan Confronted By Radical Islam Within Its Borders
The first month of 2016 in Pakistan saw almost 100 people killed in terrorist attacks, including more than 20 who were killed in a rampage that took place on the campus of Bacha Khan University.
The spike in deaths comes as the Pakistani Taliban has reemerged and radical Islamists are becoming more active. And ISIS is now actively seeking recruits in a country that has a long history of radicalization.
“The Pakistani Taliban’s resurgence has taken place at a time when other militant groups are trying to fill the vacuum left by the former–the group has been on the run due to a military operation against them. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and groups associated with it are posing a serious threat in this regard, reports Umair Jamal of The Diplomat.
Myanmar Opens First Freely-Elected Parliament
After more than five decades of repressive military rule, Myanmar made the first step toward democracy when hundreds of lawmakers were sworn in – the first freely-elected parliament since the army took power in 1962.
Suu Kyi, the head of the National League for Democracy, is unable to run for president because the previous junta-led parliament banned anyone who was foreign-born or who has foreign-born children (which Suu Kyi does) from seeking the presidency. Therefore, there is some uncertainty about who will lead the NLD.