International: Israel Passes Bill to Legalise Settlement on Private Palestinian Lands

Israel’s parliament has passed a controversial bill that legalises the state’s settlement on lands owned privately by Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Regulation Bill, which was passed with a vote of 60 to 52, is set to protect Israeli settlement built “in good faith or at the state’s instruction” from court-ordered eviction and demolition.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation said the law proved that “the Israeli government’s will to destroy any chances for a political solution”, and that the “Israeli settlement enterprise negates peace and the possibility of the two-state solution.”

Anti-occupation organisation Peace Now has condemned the bill, saying it would “practically allow the government and private individuals to steal lands of Palestinians without any legal implications”.

Experts have warned that this law would violate property and human rights. Opposition lawmaker Tzipi Livni said the bill would lead the Israel Defense Forces to the International Criminal Court, while former justice minister Dan Meridor said the law would set an “evil and dangerous” precedent of Israeli government applying its sovereignty to the West Bank.

The state’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelbilt also said the bill was unconstitutional and would lead to violation of international laws.

Days before the vote, the state’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “You don’t have to be a genius to understand that when the attorney general is opposed to the bill, this means that he is not willing to defend it in the High Court of Justice and that it is an unconstitutional bill, and its chances of being disqualified are 100 percent.”

International: Lawyers for President Park Geun-hye Say Impeachment Should Be Reversed

Lawyers for South Korean president Park Geun-hye said her impeachment should be reversed as there is not enough evidence to justify ejecting her from office.

Lawmakers voted on December 9 to impeach Park by a 234-56 margin, suspending her power until the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold the legislature’s impeachment.

The resolution submitted by lawmakers cited 13 charges, including constitutional violations and legal offenses. However, Park’s legal team said that these charges lack any basis.

“We see no grounds for impeachment and it should be struck down,” said Lee Joong-hwan, one of the three attorneys representing Park on Friday.

Park has been accused of colluding with friend Choi Soon-sil, who has been indicted, to extort money and favours from businesses. Choi also allegedly meddled in state affairs by influencing the president on a number of state projects as well as through her possession of classified documents.

Public protests have broken out since October, with two million people hitting the streets on the November 26 demonstration.

Park has denied charges of power abuse. “Not for a single moment have I pursued my personal interests,” Park said in her third and final address to the nation on November 29. “I have carried forward these state projects for I believed them to be public business for the nation.”

Parliamentary investigators from the independent counsel team have been denied access to Park’s residence in the Blue House due to concerns of national security.

“Several warrants have been issued for the search, but their execution has been thwarted,” said Lee Kyu-chul, the team’s spokesperson.

“We are currently reviewing related laws to see if we may (raid the office).”

International: Thailand Dispels Concerns Following King’s Death

Thailand has reaffirmed that royal succession and election will not be a concern following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The king died at the age of 88 and was the world’s longest-reigning monarch, having presided the country for 70 years.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn said he would delay the ascension to the throne to mourn his father with the people for an unspecified period. In the meantime, the head of the royal advisory council, Prem Tinsulanonda will stand in as regent.

“[The prince] said at this time everyone is sad, he is still sad, so every side should wait until we pass this sad time,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“When the religious ceremony and funeral have passed for a while, then it will be an appropriate time to proceed.”

The Bangkok Post newspaper also reported that the general election scheduled for next year will not be delayed.

“The government has reaffirmed its commitment to following the roadmap for general elections scheduled for late next year,” the newspaper said.

The government also stated that the economy and government will continue to work as normal.

International: UN Continues Delivering Aid to Syrians After Attack

The United Nations said it is ready to continue delivering aid to Syria, only days after at least 18 trucks were hit by an airstrike, killing 20 people and triggering the suspension of the humanitarian relief operations.

“The preparation for these convoys has now resumed and we are ready to deliver aid to besieged and hard-to-reach areas as soon as possible,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Wednesday, September 21.

“The United Nations continues to call for safe, unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to all Syrians in need, wherever they are.”

The attack happened after Syria broke the ceasefire agreement due to US-led coalition attack on Syrian army camp. US officials blamed Russia for the airstrike, while Moscow rejected the claims that Russia or Syria carried out the attack, in keeping with the ceasefire obligations.

According to the UN, the attacked trucks were heading to rebel-held town Urem al-Kubra, west of Aleppo.

The UN OCHA’s emergency relief officer, Stephen O’Brien called the continuous conflicts between the countries “a stain on the world’s collective conscience”.

“it appears that we have moved – once again – into reverse gear,” said O’Brien in a statement. “Active conflict and insecurity, as well as numerous delays in getting the necessary approval, have been limiting factors in reaching people in need these past many weeks.

“We need all necessary action from the parties and their supporters to ensure safe, sustained, unhindered and unconditional access. And we need an immediate end to the sieges which still collectively punish hundreds of thousands of civilians mercilessly. Anything less than the full lifting of the sieges will never be enough and we cannot pretend otherwise.”

International: Uzbekistan President Died at 78

Uzbekistan President, Islam Karimov has died at the age of 78 from a stroke. The country’s government and parliament confirmed the death on Friday, September 2.

Karimov’s funeral will be taking place on Saturday, September 3 at his hometown, Samarkand. His potential successor, Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, will be overseeing the funeral.

Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim was the first foreign leader to issue condolences over Karimov’s death.  Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his condolences, describing the late leader as a statesman “who had contributed to the security and stability of Central Asia”.

Islam Karimov and Vladimir Putin
Source: kremlin.ru

Karimov was the first, and so far the only, president of Uzbekistan. Having ruled the country for 27 years, Karimov had long been criticized by the West and various organizations for human rights abuses, with the United Nation describing the use of torture under his leadership as “systematic”.

Karimov had not named any potential successor during his presidency, and analysts believe his replacement will be chosen privately behind the doors with family members and senior political figures.

Bordering Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan is the most populous country in Central Asia with over 30 million people.