United Nations, Sept 28 (AP/UNB) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared Thursday that his people's rights "are not up for bargaining" and he accused the U.S. of undermining the two-state solution, a day after President Donald Trump suggested for the first time in office that he "liked" the long-discussed idea as the most effective way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas halted ties with Trump's administration in December after the U.S. recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and Palestinians have said a pending U.S. peace plan will be dead on arrival because of that and other recent U.S. moves that Palestinians see as favoring Israel.
"Jerusalem is not for sale," Abbas said to applause as he began his speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly. "The Palestinian people's rights are not up for bargaining."
He said Palestinians would never reject negotiation, but that "it's really ironic that the American administration still talks about what they call the 'deal of the century.'"
"What is left for this administration to give to the Palestinian people?" he asked. "What is left as a political solution?"
Added Abbas: "We are not redundant. Why are we treated as redundant people who should be gotten rid of?"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to address the world leaders later Thursday. The speeches fell on the same day that members of a vast U.N. developing-countries group formalized their decision to give the Palestinians the chairmanship in 2019. Although known as the Group of 77, it promotes the interests of 135 developing nations.
The Palestinians' upcoming chairmanship stands to boost their aspirations for official statehood but angers Israel.
Trump made his comment about the two-state solution while meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday. The U.S. president told reporters he believes that two states — Israel and one for the Palestinians — "works best." He has been vague on the topic, suggesting he would support whatever the parties might agree to, a message he also recapped Wednesday.
"If the Israelis and Palestinians want one state, that's OK with me. If they want two states, that's OK with me. I'm happy if they're happy," he said.
Hours before Netanyahu's scheduled speech, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed indifference to Trump's remarks, saying that the Israeli interest is "a safe Jewish state."
A Palestinian state "simply doesn't interest me," Lieberman said.
Netanyahu had reluctantly accepted the concept of Palestinian statehood but has since backtracked. A top coalition partner is threatening to topple his government if it returns to the agenda.
The two sides in one of the world's most high-profile and volatile conflicts are always forceful voices at the U.N. and its annual General Assembly, but their leaders are speaking after a particularly eventful year in their relations.
The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza has led protests for months along the border with Israel, aiming partly to draw attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.
At least 137 Palestinians, mostly unarmed, have been killed by Israeli fire since the border protests began on March 30. During that time, a Gaza sniper killed an Israeli soldier.
Hamas and Israel came close to serious conflict earlier this summer as violence soared along the border. Gaza militants bombarded southern Israel with mortars and rockets, and Israel struck Hamas targets in Gaza.
Israel says it is defending its border against attempts by Hamas, a militant group sworn to its destruction, to infiltrate and carry out attacks. But Israel has faced heavy international criticism over the large number of unarmed protesters who have been killed or wounded.
Israel has also been struggling to deal with near-daily fires caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices launched by Palestinians in Gaza. The blazes have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife.
Egyptian mediated cease-fire talks have hit a deadlock, and Hamas is now intensifying its campaign with more protests.
Palestinians were infuriated, and many Israelis were thrilled, by a series of decisions Trump has made within the last year, starting with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Palestinians also claim the holy city as the capital of an eventual state. Earlier this year, Trump followed up on the recognition by moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that was widely protested by Palestinians and others in the Arab world.
His administration has also slashed aid to the Palestinians by hundreds of millions of dollars and ended U.S. support for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees.
Trump and his national security team have defended their position, saying that decades of attempts to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace have failed.
The World Bank warned Tuesday that Gaza's economy is in "free fall," with a 6 percent contraction in the first quarter of this year and unemployment standing at over 50 percent. A report from the bank urged Israel and the international community to take action to avoid "immediate collapse."
It attributed the downturn to a combination of factors, including Israel's decade-long blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory, budget cuts by the rival Palestinian Authority and a reduction in international aid, particularly from the U.S.
Other leaders who spoke at the General Assembly Thursday included Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, who told the gathered leaders he had "spared no effort to ensure that institutions are stable and to make sure we are creating a safe and stable enviro conducive to investment and to relaunching growth" in his country since the U.N. peacekeeping mission there wrapped up in October 2017.
The mission had helped the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere through 13 years of political turmoil and natural catastrophe. It has been followed by a new "stabilization" mission made up of about 1,300 international civilian police officers, along with 350 civilians tasked with helping Haiti reform its justice system.
The Caribbean island country continues to face economic and environmental challenges, including its vulnerability to natural disasters. It suffered heavy blows from a devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
Earlier, Lithuania's president assailed world leaders for being "too quiet, too passive, too ignorant" in the face of abuses, corruption and inequality, and took a dig at Trump's America-first vision.
"We cannot let the voice of nationalism and division win over dialogue and cooperation," said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
Much of the attention at the international community's most prominent gathering has been focused on Trump, whose brash behavior and boastful address on Tuesday provoked laughter and headshakes from other leaders. On Wednesday, he chaired a Security Council meeting on nonproliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and fired off more tough words at Iran.
Trump also made waves by accusing China of meddling in November's U.S. elections. China denies any interference.
Geneva, Sept 27 (AP/UNB) — The U.N.'s top human rights body has agreed to set up a team to collect evidence of alleged crimes committed in Myanmar since 2011 that could one day be used to prosecute violators in court.
The 47-member Human Rights Council voted 35-3 on Thursday to create an "independent mechanism" that is intended to complement a fact-finding mission the council previously authorized to help document alleged rights violations in Myanmar.
China, Burundi and the Philippines opposed the measure. Seven countries abstained from the vote.
The mechanism's work is expected to cover a massive security crackdown that began in August 2017. Human rights group say it left at least 10,000 people dead and caused hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
Srinagar, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — Anti-India protests and clashes erupted in several places in disputed Kashmir on Thursday after Indian troops killed a young man, officials and residents said, and an Indian soldier and a rebel were killed in a separate gunbattle.
Residents in Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, said government forces shot and killed the young man during a raid early Thursday. The man worked as a shepherd and he was attending to his sheep when troops fired at him, they said.
Police have yet to make a statement.
The killing triggered protests and clashes as hundreds of people poured into streets at several places in downtown Srinagar calling for the end of Indian rule. They chanted slogans like "Go India, go back" and "We want freedom" as some of the residents barraged police and paramilitary soldiers with stones.
Government troops fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to quell the protests while authorities restricted movement in old quarters of the city.
Later thousands attended the man's burial.
Elsewhere, India's army said a soldier and a rebel were killed Thursday in a gunbattle in southern Qazigund area.
Col. Rajesh Kalia, an army spokesman, said the troops raided a village in the area on a tip that some militants were hiding there, leading to exchange of gunfire. He said the operation was ongoing.
Also on Thursday, at least two militants were trapped in a mosque after troops laid a siege around it in Panzan village, police said.
As the siege continued, villagers tried to march toward mosque in solidarity with the rebels, leading to clashes between stone-throwing protesters and government forces who deployed tear smoke shells and pellets.
No one was immediately reported injured in both the clashes.
Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause of unifying the divided region either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations.
Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Dhaka, Sept 27 (UNB) - The Supreme Court of India on Thursday unanimously struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that makes adultery a punishable offence for men.
In four separate but concurring judgments, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court said the 158-year-old law was unconstitutional and fell foul of Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (Right to equality), reports Indian media.
The apex court also declared Section 198(1) and 198(2) of the CrPC, which allows a husband to bring charges against the man with whom his wife committed adultery, unconstitutional.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who pronounced the judgment in concurrence with Justice AM Khanwilkar, said while adultery could be a ground for civil issues, including dissolution of marriage, it could not be a criminal offence.
“Adultery can be ground for any civil wrong. There can’t be any social license that destroys the matrimonial home, but adultery should not be a criminal offence,” he said.
Stating that a wife was not a chattel of the husband, Misra said, “Any provision of law affecting individual dignity and equality of women invites the wrath of the Constitution. It’s time to say that a husband is not the master of wife. Legal sovereignty of one sex over other sex is wrong.”
However, if any aggrieved spouse ended her life because of her partner’s adulterous relation, it could be treated as an abetment to suicide if evidence was produced, the CJ said.
The CJ further said Section 497 was manifestly arbitrary and offends the dignity of women.
Stating that the beauty of our Constitution was that it includes ‘I, me and you’, Misra said equality was the governing principle of a system.
On January 5, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, referred the PIL to a larger constitutional bench. The bench had contended the provision seemed “quite archaic, especially when there is societal progress”. In three earlier judgments in 1954, 1985 and in 1988, the court had upheld the provision.
United Nations, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — The head of the United Nations blamed lack of leadership Wednesday for the world's failure to take tough decisions needed to stop global warming, warning that a key goal of the Paris climate accord is at risk.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres bluntly told leaders gathered in New York that unless current emission trends for greenhouse gases are reversed by 2020, it will be impossible to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The target was set in the 2015 Paris agreement, but the U.N. says government commitments so far only achieve a third of the emissions cuts needed.
"Why is climate change faster than we are?" he asked. "The only possible answer is that we still lack strong leadership to take the bold decisions needed to put our economies and societies on the path of low-carbon growth and climate-resilience."
Guterres' comments echo those of climate researchers, who say the world could miss even the less ambitious goal of the Paris accord of keeping temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times.
The U.N. chief challenged governments to end fossil fuel subsidies, help shift toward renewable energy and back a price for carbon emissions that reflects their actual cost. A recently published report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found the cost of taxes and permits for carbon emissions among dozens of leading economies is over 76 percent below the estimated actual cost of 30 euros ($35.21) per metric ton.
Guterres said climate-related disasters already cost the world $320 billion last year, a figure likely to grow with increased warming.
He singled out the world's 20 leading and emerging economies — known as the G-20 — saying they account for about 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
As Guterres spoke at the United Nations, across town corporate leaders and government officials announced a range of programs intended to pump billions of dollars in public and private funds into what's often referred to as the "green economy," which aims to reduce the environmental impact of business.
Among them, the World Bank announced it would invest $1 billion in battery storage systems for developing and emerging economies. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said the Washington-based institution expected to raise an additional $4 billion for the venture to triple battery storage capacity in developing countries by 2025.
French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned against governments and companies "greenwashing" unacceptably high carbon emissions with big-figure promises, citing the pledge by rich countries to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor nations tackle global warming.
That target is unlikely to be met, especially if the United States — which under President Donald Trump announced its withdrawal from the Paris accord — doesn't contribute its share.
Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, told the meeting of her recent visit to small Pacific island nations that are already suffering the effects of climate change.
"None of us can opt out of severe weather events or rising sea levels, so nor should we have the ability to opt out of action either," she said.
New Zealand is one of several countries considering enshrining in law a goal of ending all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The coming months will see a flurry of negotiations over the rules that countries will have to follow as part of their commitment to the Paris accord. Signatories have set themselves a deadline of agreeing to rules by the time leaders meet in Katowice, Poland, in December.