CLASSIFY ISRAEL AS AN APARTHEID STATE: SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa has expressed its concerns over the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and a “significant portions of the West Bank”, calling on the UN to class Israel as an Apartheid State. Speaking at the second meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in the South African capital Pretoria on July 26, the country’s Minister of International Relations and cooperation, Naledi Pandor, said that the “Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression.” The minister called on the international community to classify Israel as an Apartheid State, saying that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) must establish a committee to officially verify whether Tel Aviv fulfils the requirements for such a classification. She further reiterated that the post-apartheid South African government’s position on Palestine “has always been clear, consistent and convergent with the international community.”

BAHRAIN SACKS ROYAL FAMILY MEMBER OVER ISRAEL ENVOY SNUB

A senior Bahraini official and member of the ruling Al-Khalifa family has been dismissed for refusing to shake hands with the Israeli ambassador to the country. Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, who is President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, was reportedly sacked by order of King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa. Mai is said to have refused to shake hands with Eitan Na’eh, Israel’s ambassador to Manama, during a funeral service for the father of US ambassador Steven C Bondy last month. She also reportedly left the funeral service upon learning of Na’eh’s presence and requested that the US embassy should not publish any pictures of her attending the event. The report said that the king did not wait for Mai to return from her official visit in Albania to dismiss her. She was swiftly replaced by Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa. Sheikha Mai’s refusal to shake hands with Na’eh is a “true reflection of the Bahraini people’s genuine stance in support of Palestinians,” said Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasem in a statement on July 30.

PROTESTERS START OPEN SIT-IN INSIDE IRAQI PARLIAMENT

Supporters of Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr started an open sit-in protest inside the parliament on July 30 after they breached the building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in the capital Baghdad for the second time in a week. “The open sit-in the parliament was people’s choice,” Ibrahim al-Jabri, director of the Sadrist movement’s office, was quoted as saying by Iraqi News Agency. They were protesting the nomination of Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani for the premiership. Al-Sudani’s nomination is opposed by Muqtada al-Sadr, whose party won the last year’s general elections. At least 125 people were injured on July 30 in sporadic clashes between supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi security forces. Following the breaching of its building, Iraq’s parliament session was suspended.

75% VOTERS BOYCOTT TUNISIA’S CONSTITUTION REFERENDUM

The Tunisian Ennahda Movement has announced that the boycott of 75 per cent of those registered on the electoral roll for the referendum on the new Constitution “is evidence that the constitution is popularly rejected and completely null.” The movement added in a statement: “Constitutions are the first social contract and the law of laws, and are only passed with the participation of no less than 50 per cent.” The statement continued: “President Kais Saied utilised all the state capabilities, especially the financial and administrative ones, and depended on the public media, especially the first TV channel, to exclusively promotes his constitutional project. The referendum failed, and therefore the draft Constitution became null, and the 2014 constitution remained in effect despite it being revoked. While its revocation always lacks legitimacy and legality.”

UK GOVT’S ‘HYPOCRISY’ OVER UKRAINE, PALESTINE EXPOSED

The glaring disparity between the way that the British government views support for Ukraine in schools and solidarity with Palestine has been revealed by a new survey conducted for the London-based advocacy group CAGE. The survey is based on the feedback of 532 respondents across England, Wales and Scotland, and covers primary schools, secondary schools, sixth forms and two universities. It highlights starkly the double standards employed by the government in the way it looks at the suffering of Ukrainians and Palestinians. In particular, it asked respondents to consider the government response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which started in February this year, and Israel’s 2021 military offensive against the Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Both Ukraine and Palestine have seen some of the most brutal violence against civilians in recent history.

IRAN ARRESTS SWEDISH NATIONAL ON ESPIONAGE CHARGES

Amid growing bilateral tensions, Iran on July 30 announced the arrest of an unidentified Swedish national on espionage charges. The suspect had been under surveillance during previous multiple visits to Iran, which led to investigations and arrest owing to his “suspicious behaviour and contacts” and visits to cities not frequented by tourists, said a report citing an Intelligence Ministry statement. The person had visited Iran recently after the arrest of “another European spy” to “obtain information” on the identity of that person, it added. The arrest comes after dozens of similar arrests of Europeans and dual nationals by Iran in recent months on various security-related charges. It is unclear whether the case is related to what the Swedish Foreign Ministry said in May about a Swedish national detained in Iran, just days after issuing a travel advisory urging its citizens not to visit the country.

ISTANBUL CENTRE FOR UKRAINIAN GRAIN EXPORTS OPENS

A new joint coordination centre in Istanbul established as part of a historic deal to restart Ukrainian grain exports to the world officially opened on July 27. “The duty of the centre is to provide safe sea transportation of grain and similar food products to be exported from Ukraine,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said at the opening ceremony, held at the National Defence University in Istanbul. The centre and the grain deal will make “significant contributions” to overcoming the food crisis impacting the entire world, and especially lowering prices, he added. If left unaddressed, the grain problem could have caused security problems due to hunger and global irregular migration, he warned. “The centre consists of five representatives – both military and civilian – each from Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the UN. There will be no military element in the field,” he said.

HINDUS, SIKHS ARE SAFE TO RETURN TO AFGHANISTAN: TALIBAN

The Afghanistan’s governing body under Taliban called on religious minorities, including Sikhs and Hindus, who had left the country after a series of attacks on them, to return to the country, saying the security issue has been resolved. In a statement released after the meeting between the members of the Hindu and Sikh Council of Afghanistan and the Director General of the Office of the Minister of State of the Taliban, Dr Mullah Abdul Wasi, the authority urged that minorities are safe to return to the country. The Taliban statement says, Sikh leaders thanked the Taliban for preventing the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attack on Gurdwara in Kabul. On June 18, ISKP attacked Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul, during which two people, including a Sikh and the gurdwara’s guard, identified as Ahmad, lost their lives.

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