More European states joined France yesterday in backing a Palestinian bid for limited statehood, but Britain held back, saying it wanted an assurance that the Palestinians would not pursue Israel through the International Criminal Court.
Germany said it was opposing the diplomatic upgrade for the Palestinians, joining Israel and the US, which say the only genuine route to statehood is via a direct peace agreement with Israel.
Semi-statehood could allow Palestinian territories to access the court and other international bodies.
Photo: EPA/Mohammed Saber
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is leading the campaign and several European governments are eager to give him their support after an eight-day conflict this month between Israel and Islamists in the Gaza Strip, who are pledged to Israel’s destruction.
With overwhelming support from the developing world, the Palestinians appear certain to earn approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly for a status upgrade to “observer state” today.
Sapin, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark and Austria said they would vote for the upgrade, while France gave its approval on Tuesday.
In Ramallah in the West Bank, senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi said the positive responses from other European states were encouraging and sent a message of hope to all Palestinians.
Two-thirds of UN member nations have already recognized the state of Palestine.
Those leaning in the direction of backing today’s bid include Russia, who supported Palestinian membership to UNESCO. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “believes that the Palestinians have the right for such a move.”
The Netherlands has not announced its position yet, but is expected to vote no or abstain.
Outside of Europe, Palestine is to be backed by India, while the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed its support for Palestine’s aspirations during a meeting on Friday last week with a Palestinian envoy, and Australia has said it will abstain from the vote.
HELPING HAND: Taiwan is ready to help other nations and will not sit idly by while the global fight against the coronavirus continues, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is to offer humanitarian assistance to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by sending them masks and medicine, as well as sharing with them an electronic system that the government has been using to track down people that need to be quarantined, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. With the nation’s daily production having reached 13 million masks and soon to reach 15 million, the government is to donate 10 million masks to medical personnel in nations most severely affected by the coronavirus, Tsai said at the Presidential Office in Taipei. The
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday released a set of revised criteria for reporting suspected COVID-19 cases, while also announcing its guidelines for disclosing patients’ personal information. The center said that its advisory specialist panel revised the definition for “severe pneumonia with novel pathogens” — COVID-19 infection — by expanding the criteria needed to report suspected cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that physicians should report people for testing if they meet one of three clinical conditions: They have a fever, acute respiratory infection, or a lack of smell or taste; there is a