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Israel to approve more than 1,200 new settler homes in West Bank

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Israel will approve construction of hundreds of new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the country’s defence minister said.

Settlements are one of the most vexed issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have been frozen since 2014.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider as illegal the Israeli settlements built in the territory Israel captured in the 1967 “Six Day War”.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli authorities were due to approve on Wednesday the construction of 1,285 housing units to be built in 2018 and advance planning for 2,500 others in about 20 different settlements, Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement on Tuesday.

There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian officials. The Palestinians say Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a key issue in peace talks. deny them a viable contiguous state.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and a bid by the Trump administration to restart them have shown little sign of progress.

The White House said on Monday US Vice President Mike Pence will visit the region from 20 to 23 January, embarking on a tour originally planned for December after President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr Pence will hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said.

Mr Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and announcement in December that the United States would start the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv enraged the Palestinians who said the United States can no longer broker peace with Israel.

Reuters

Independent

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Middle East

Iraq sentences German woman to death for joining Isis, reports say

- 1516551522 mosul - Iraq sentences German woman to death for joining Isis, reports say


An Iraqi court has sentenced a German woman to death after she ran away to join Isis.

The court in Baghdad convicted the unnamed German woman of “providing logistical support and assistance to the terrorist group to commit crimes” and has ordered her execution.

The spokesman of the Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, says the woman acknowledged joining Isis after travelling from Germany to Syria and then to Iraq along with her two daughters. Both daughters later married militants. 

She is believed to have been living in the Mannheim region of Germany when she travelled to Syria but is reportedly of Moroccan descent. 

The woman is believed to have been among a number of women in July 2017 who were captured after the Battle of Mosul when Iraqi forces pushed Isis out of Iraq’s second city.

She now faces hanging but can still appeal her sentence, Mr Bayrkdar said.

Iraqi forces have detained a number of foreign women after they drove Isis from its former territory in northern and central Iraq. 

It is estimated that over 27,000 foreign fighters, including 6,000 Europeans, have travelled to Iraq and Syria since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011 but not all of them have joined Isis, according to data published by the Soufran Group.

A Russian Isis fighter was sentenced to death in Iraq last year for joining the hardline group.

Meanwhile one of those in prison awaiting trial is German teenager Linda Wenzel who ran away to Syria when she was just 15 years old. 

Wenzel also faces the death penalty if convicted of aiding Isis. Iraqi authorities say she admitted to working as a sniper during the battle but Wenzel claims she was mostly kept as a domestic servant.

Iraq declared victory last month over Isis, which had seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014. However, the terror group continues to carry out bombings and other attacks in the country.

Additional reporting by agencies​

Independent

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Middle East

France Calls for Urgent UNSC Meeting Over the Turkish Attack on Afrin

- 6d35699da25d5ed17995fd336cb43987 L - France Calls for Urgent UNSC Meeting Over the Turkish Attack on Afrin


ERBIL — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that his country has called for an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the ongoing Turkish military incursion into the Kurdish-held Syrian Canton of Afrin.

“France has requested an urgent meeting of UN Security Council,” Le Drian said on his Twitter account.

He urged those involved in the conflict to stop the fire immediately and open the path for humanitarian aid to reach the affected area.

French foreign minister talked to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier, following which he said in an official statement that Ankara is urged to restraint and end any action which could further deteriorate the humanitarian situation in Syria.

“France is attentive to the security of Turkey, its territory and borders. Paris calls on the Turkish authorities to exercise restraint in the complicated context of a humanitarian situation in several Syrian regions in view of military activities of Damascus and its allies,” reads the statement.

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Middle East

YPG Repels Turkish Ground Attack Near Afrin

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ERBIL — The US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday repelled the first Turkish ground offensive on Bulbul district of Afrin Canton.

The Turkish troops, accompanied by heavy arms and tanks, were marching towards the territories of  Balia village when faced fierce resistance from the YPG fighters, said Hawar news agency (ANHA).

Many Turkish artillery and heavy arms are said to have been forced to retreat while there remains some attacking troops, according to the same source.

 

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