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Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ crimes against Palestinians

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(Last Updated On: April 27, 2021)

An international rights watchdog accused Israel on Tuesday of pursuing policies of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians – and against its own Arab minority – that amount to crimes against humanity.

New York-based Human Rights Watch published a 213-page report which, it said, was not aimed at comparing Israel with apartheid-era South Africa but rather at assessing “whether specific acts and policies” constitute apartheid as defined under international law.

Israel’s foreign ministry rejected the claims as “both preposterous and false” and accused HRW of harbouring an “anti-Israeli agenda,” saying the group had sought “for years to promote boycotts against Israel”.

Just weeks ago the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would investigate war crimes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the Israeli military and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas named as possible perpetrators.

In its report, HRW pointed to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement and seizure of Palestinian-owned land for Jewish settlement in territory occupied in the 1967 Middle East war as examples of policies it said were crimes of apartheid and persecution.

“Across Israel and the (Palestinian territories), Israeli authorities have pursued an intent to maintain domination over Palestinians by exercising control over land and demographics for the benefit of Jewish Israelis,” the report says.

“On this basis, the report concludes that Israeli officials have committed the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” as defined under the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute.

BOYCOTT ACCUSATIONS

Israeli officials fiercely object to apartheid accusations.

“The purpose of this spurious report is in no way related to human rights, but to an ongoing attempt by HRW to undermine the State of Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people,” Strategic Affairs Minister Michael Biton said.

Israel’s foreign ministry said HRW’s Israel programme was being “led by a known (BDS) supporter, with no connection to facts or reality on the ground,” referring to the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The report’s author, HRW Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir, was expelled from Israel in 2019 over accusations he backs BDS.

Shakir denies that his HRW work and pro-Palestinian statements he made before being appointed to the HRW post in 2016 constitute active support for BDS.

Shakir told Reuters that HRW would send its report to the ICC prosecutor’s office, “as we normally do when we reach conclusions about the commissions of crimes that fall within the Court’s jurisdiction.”

He said HRW also sent the ICC its 2018 report about possible crimes against humanity by President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and the Islamist militant Hamas.

ICC PROBE

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said in March that she would formally investigate war crimes in the Palestinian territories, after ICC judges ruled that the court had jurisdiction there.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the ruling but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced it as anti-Semitism and said Israel does not recognise the court’s authority.

HRW called on the ICC prosecutor to “investigate and prosecute individuals credibly implicated” in apartheid and persecution.

HRW also said Israel’s 2018 “nation state” law – declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country – “provides a legal basis to pursue policies that favour Jewish Israelis to the detriment” of the country’s 21% Arab minority, who regularly complain of discrimination.

Palestinians seek the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas captured in the 1967 conflict, for a future state.

Under interim peace deals with Israel, Palestinians have limited self-rule in the West Bank; Hamas runs Gaza.

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DAB says technical agreements in place to print new bank notes

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

The country’s central bank – Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) said Thursday they have reached agreements with a number of foreign countries and money printing facilities to print new bank notes for the country.

“We have collected and burned the old money, we have reached an agreement with the money printing offices and countries and we expect to proceed according to the plan and present you with the results, we are proceeding based on national interests; discussions have been held with countries and banks and they will help Afghanistan,” said Lutful Haq Noor Pasarlay, DAB’s policy deputy head.

Abdulqahar known as Haji Muhammad Edris, the acting head of De Afghanistan Bank, also spoke at the event and mapped out achievements made by the central bank in the past 12 months.

“Maintaining the stability of the value of the Afghani currency, maintaining the sustainability of commercial banks, providing banking services, facilitating cross-border transfers and developing new systems were some of the issues in the attention of Da Afghanistan Bank during the last year,” said Abdulqahar.

According to officials, in order to improve the banking sector and prevent criminal activities, the law to prevent terrorism financing, the regulation of preventive measures against money laundering, the management plan for the liquidity problem of the banking sector, the plan to revive the financial and banking sector, and the crisis management policy, have been drawn up and will soon be adopted.

The officials also said that in order to release Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves, several internal and external meetings have been organized with the relevant parties and discussions have been held on technical matters.

The last meeting of technical representatives of Afghanistan and the United States, for releasing Afghanistan’s frozen assets, was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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Bayat Power ‘looking forward’ to increasing domestic electricity output

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

Bayat Power, Afghanistan’s first and currently only, natural gas to electricity generation, energy company is looking forward to expand its domestic power output.

In a speech, delivered by a company representative, Lotfullah Stanikzai, Bayat Power informed delegates attending the key energy conference in Kabul that the “team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

Stanikzai said the company was committed to working with government to achieve energy security and develop a pathway to energy self-sufficiency in Afghanistan.

The one-day conference, which was attended by senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders, representatives of foreign countries and members of the private sector, was convened to attract investment in the energy and water sectors.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting Deputy Prime Minister, said in his opening speech the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is committed to developing the country but urged the people to be patient adding “because we have to build this country ourselves”.

Baradar also pointed out that Afghanistan is potentially a wealthy country that has great investment opportunities.

Abdul Latif Mansour, the acting Minister of Energy and Water, also addressed delegates and said the IEA is committed to managing the country’s water efficiently and to producing enough energy for the people.

Mansour said the conference was being held to map out opportunities available in the water and energy sectors for investors and that the IEA had paved the way for local and international business owners to invest in the sectors.

Shahabuddin Delavar, acting head of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum also addressed delegates and said it is “now time for us to maintain our country’s independence, and utilize our natural resources”.

He singled out Bayat Power, and said at the moment the company produces 40MW electricity but that it hoped to increase this substantially.

“We welcome the company’s decision,” he said.

Stanikzai told delegates that Bayat Power was the direct result of a solid private and public partnership between the company and various Afghanistan government entities, including the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan Gas Enterprise (AGE), and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat.

However, he stated that Bayat Power calls on the IEA to support the continuation of operations with current investors and attraction of further investment.

He urged the authorities to ensure timely payment of outstanding invoices by DABS was made to various private entities including Bayat Power; to facilitate a favorable investment environment; promote investment through favorable taxation policies and lower operational costs; and promote transparency with government entities to expedite new and the renewal of existing agreements.

He also urged the IEA to ensure that AGE continues to receive full government support so that they can remain operational and provide clean gas.

Stanikzai said it was important for DABS and the ministry of energy and water “to continue the excellent work in keeping the grid stable to take the domestic electricity produced by private sector companies.”

In conclusion, he said: “Bayat Power team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

About Bayat Power

Bayat Power supplies electricity to schools, homes, mosques, hospitals, factories, business enterprises and other essential services. Currently the company supplies electricity to over 200,000 end users.

Bayat Group established the Bayat Power Electricity Services Distributor Company in 2013. Using the nation’s abundant natural gas reserves, the goal was to provide the people with a reliable supply of affordable and sustainable electricity.
Site work on Bayat Power-1’s 40MW gas-fired turbine started in 2019 and achieved commercial operation in November of that year. This landmark milestone made Bayat Power the first company in Afghanistan to operate a new gas-fired generation facility in more than 40 years.

Bayat Power-1 uses the most advanced, powerful, and efficient technology to extract the gas without adverse environmental impact.

Using Siemens Mobile Gas Unit “SGT-A45”, with up to 44 MW of electrical output, offers significantly more power and higher efficiency than any other mobile gas turbine worldwide.

The SGT-A45 turbine generates more than 300 million kWh per year of electricity, increasing revenue for the Afghanistan Gas Company through the purchase of gas for the project, as well as significant tax revenue for the Afghan government in the form of BRT, salaries and customs taxes, Bayat Power has been – and continues to be – a considerable PPP (private, public partnership) achievement.

This project has created more than 1,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Afghans, which has contributed to improving the nation’s economic condition and fostered new technical skill sets amongst the country’s talented citizens.

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‘I am still president of Afghanistan’, Ghani says in TV interview

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, said in the first television interview since he fled the country on August 15 last year that according to the country’s constitution, he is still technically the country’s president.

In an interview with the newly established ABN channel, Ghani said: “I am the president according to the constitution and until the people of Afghanistan legally elect someone else, I am the president.”

He also stated that he fled the country because he was afraid of being killed and did not want to face the same fate as Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, ex-president of Afghanistan who was assassinated in 1996.

However, many Afghans call him shameless, adding that Ghani’s escape caused serious misery among the people in the country.

In response to the question on why he fled Afghanistan, Ghani said that he was the last person to leave Afghanistan and most of the cabinet members, including the Minister of Defense, had already fled by the time he flew out.

“I was the last person to leave the country, and this was also so that the bitter experience of Dr. Najib regarding an Afghan president would not be repeated,” he said.

In addition, Ghani stated that all politicians had a part in the downfall of the previous regime and he accuses Abdullah Abdullah, the former head of the National Reconciliation Council, for destabilizing the republic system. He also criticized Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistans who led peace talks with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and secured the Doha agreement in February 2020.

“Dr. Abdullah is responsible for not consolidating the republic, especially in the last seven years and secondly, he was in charge of the Afghanistan Peace Council, which step did he take on paper, which plan did he come up with, or in practice, when he went to Doha on a special plane and then came back on the day of Eid and said that the Taliban is not ready to make any kind of move,” Ghani added.

But Afghans at home lashed out at Ghani and said his words meant nothing and that he failed to even apologize for his actions.

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