Wow, that bug is a gift that just keeps giving..Hezbollah Chief, Senior Members Reportedly Under Quarantine, May Have Coronavirus
by Benjamin Kerstein
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addressing supporters in Beirut. Photo: Reuters.
The leader of the Lebanese Shi’a terror organization Hezbollah may have been infected with the coronavirus and has been placed under quarantine, along with several other senior members of his group, according to media reports.
Israel’s Channel 13, citing a report in Al Arabiya, reported on Wednesday that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had been quarantined for fear he had contracted the disease, apparently after it was spread to several of his close aides by an Iranian visitor.
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Along with Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, Hashim Safi Al Din, was said to have been quarantined after meeting with a senior Iranian official who had the coronavirus. Several other senior Hezbollah members have been confirmed as infected.
Iran, where the virus outbreak has been especially severe, is Hezbollah’s primary backer and has close contacts with the terror group.
Hezbollah has also taken emergency measures in the areas under its control in the Beirut suburbs and southern Lebanon, including setting up camps to quarantine patients. Many Shi’as who live in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahieh in Beirut have fled to mountainous areas to escape the virus.
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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addressing supporters in Beirut. Photo: Reuters. The leader of the Lebanese Shi’a terror organization Hezbollah may …www.algemeiner.com
Jordan warns Israel of 'massive conflict' over annexation
King Abdullah II says Jordan is considering 'all options' over Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
Jordan's king warned Israel of a "massive conflict" if it proceeds with plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, as European Union foreign ministers agreed to step up diplomatic efforts to try to head off such a move.
Israel has promised to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, which could spell the end of the long-stalled peace process by making it virtually impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has moved a step closer by reaching an agreement to form a government after more than a year of political deadlock.
Jordan's King Abdulla II, in an interview published by Der Spiegel on Friday, issued a stark warning over Israel's plans.
"Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean," he said.
"What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," he said.
Jordan is a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah declined to say whether annexation would threaten that agreement.
"I don't want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East," he said.
"When the king himself comes out and essentially puts his relationship with Israel and the treaty with Israel on the line, its very serious," he told Al Jazeera from Arlington in the United States.
"For the monarchy in Jordan, an end to the two state solution - which this plan and annexation is really aimed at achieving - an end of any prospect of a Palestinian state poses not just a strategic threat, but quite possibly even an existential threat to the monarchy in Jordan."
Jordan has been lobbying the EU to take "practical steps" to make sure annexation does not happen.
In a statement, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi "stressed the need for the international community and the European Union in particular to take practical steps that reflect the rejection of any Israeli decision to annex".
At a video conference, EU foreign ministers reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution and opposition to any annexation. The ministers, whose countries are deeply divided in their approach to Israel, agreed to ramp up diplomatic efforts in the coming days with Israel, the Palestinians, the US and Arab countries.
"We reaffirm our position in support of a negotiated, two-state solution. For this to be possible, unilateral action from either side should be avoided and, for sure, international law should be upheld," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after chairing the meeting.
"We must work to discourage any possible initiative toward annexation," Borrell told reporters in Brussels. "International law has to be upheld. Here, and there, and everywhere."
He made no mention of the use of sanctions, saying only that the EU will use "all our diplomatic capacities in order to prevent any kind of unilateral action".
The ceremony, originally scheduled for Thursday, is now planned for Sunday to give Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party.
Their coalition agreement says the Israeli government can, from July 1, begin considering implementing the West Bank annexations detailed in US President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.
Unveiled in January, the controversial plan gives a green light for Israel to annex about a third of the occupied West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with heavily conditioned statehood in scattered territorial enclaves surrounded by Israel.
The EU has already rejected Trump's plan.
The bloc has long been committed to a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, with the possibility of mutually agreed land-swaps. Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want all three to form their future state.
"In our opinion, an annexation is not compatible with international law," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday. "From our point of view, changes to borders must, if at all, be the result of negotiations and happen in agreement between both sides."
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Chinese Ambassador to Israel Found Dead in His Home
Cause of death appears to be a cardiac incident, as the envoy was found dead in his bed by staff at his residence with no signs of violence on his body
May 17, 2020 11:22 AM
Chinese Ambassador to Israel Du Wei.China's Foreign Ministry
Chinese Ambassador to Israel Du Wei was found dead Sunday in his apartment in a Tel Aviv suburb. Police have launched an investigation into his death.
Wei, 58, was found dead in his bed and appears to have died in his sleep. He left behind a wife and a son. He was appointed as China’s envoy to Israel in February.
Initial reports say that Wei was found dead in his bed by staff at his residence, and that no signs of violence were found on his body. The Magen David Adom first aid service said that the cause of death appears to be a cardiac incident.
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Yuval Rotem said that he spoke with China's deputy ambassador Dai Yuming to express his condolences, and told him that the ministry will help the Chinese Embassy with anything they may need along the way.
People outside Ambassador Du Wei's house in Herzliya, central Israel, May 17, 2030. Tomer Appelbaum
On Friday, the Chinese Embassy in Israel responded to criticism voiced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Israel last week, calling his remarks that China had concealed information about the outbreak of the coronavirus from the world "absurd."
The embassy statement noted that "scientists still haven’t identified the origin of COVID-19," and claimed that China never concealed the outbreak of the disease in the country. It also added that the United States is currently the epicenter of the pandemic.
The embassy also referred to Pompeo's warning to Israel regarding Chinese investments in the country. During his visit on Wednesday, Pomeo said that such investments could pose a security risk, particularly in the area of infrastructure.
Chinese Ambassador to Israel Du Wei. China's Foreign Ministry
In an interview to the Makor Rishon newspaper in April, Wei said that after accepting the position of ambassador, he flew to Israel in mid-Februry and entered a 14-day quarantine due to the outbreak in China. At the end of March, he received his diplomatic credentials. Because of the pandemic, he did not meet with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, as is customary.
Speaking with Makor Rishon, Wei expressed hope to strengthen the ties between Israel and China, addressing the accusations leveled at his country as being the one responsible for the outbreak of the virus.
"I assumed my post in an extraordinary time when China was fighting against the COVID-19. Immediately after my arrival on February 15, I went into the 14-day home quarantine. During which, I had not taken a single step out of my residence nor had any direct contact with my Embassy colleagues. I just want to send a message to all Israeli friends that China is a responsible, rule-abiding and trustworthy country," wei said.
"There are different voices regarding China’s fight. In the beginning, some voices were condescending and schadenfreude. Later, when the disease broke out around the world, the voices became 'China should apologize.' It is scapegoating. In history, it has happened many times when the causes of diseases were wrongfully blamed on a specific group of people, which is despicable and should be condemned. The disease is the enemy of all mankind, and the world must fight it together," Wei told Makor Rishon.
Wei also addressed the matter of Chinese investments in Israeli infrastructure, expressing hope for further cooperation.
In February, before the coronavirus had spread to Israel, the deputy chief of the Chinese Embassy in Israel, Dai Yuming, said that "China opened its doors to the Jewish people during dark times and we didn't close it. I hope that Israel won't close the door to the Chinese."
The statement came after Israel's Foreign Ministry recommended against travel to China and urged all residents of Israel in China to leave after suspending all direct flights to the country.