Archive for December 4th, 2014

Belgium to recognize Palestine statehood -report

04 December 2014 Thursday

Belgium’s main political parties are reportedly working on a resolution to recognize Palestine as a state, a Belgian daily reported Wednesday.

Le Soir reported that Belgium’s coalition government reached an agreement earlier this week. The Belgian parliament will reportedly debate a resolution on the subject as early as next week.

However, the draft text for the planned motion to recognize Palestine as a state does not set a date. The recognition will happen when “deemed appropriate,” according to the Belgian daily.

If the motion is adopted then Belgium will become the second EU member country after Sweden to recognize Palestine as a state.

Sweden recognized Palestine statehood on Oct. 20, a move followed by the French parliament’s lower house which passed a non-binding motion last Tuesday encouraging the French government to do the same.

Source: World Bulletin.


Australia exercises new security laws, bans Syria travel

04 December 2014 Thursday

Australia on Thursday for the first time exercised sweeping new security powers allowing it to block citizens from travelling to overseas conflict zones such as those in Iraq and Syria, where dozens of Australians have joined militant groups.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop designated the ISIL’s stronghold of Raqqa province in Syria off limits as part of a push to combat what the government says is growing radicalization among young Australian Muslims.

It is the first use of new security powers obtained by conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott, under which Australian citizens travelling to any area overseas declared off limits can face up to a decade in prison.

“Under the provisions of our foreign fighters legislation, I have today declared Al Raqqa province an area where a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in hostile activity,” Bishop told Parliament.

“This now makes it an offence under Australian law to enter or remain in the province of al-Raqqa without a legitimate reason. Anyone who enters or remains faces a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.”

In September, the United Nations demanded that all states make it a serious criminal offence for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with militant groups, or to recruit and fund others to do so, in a move sparked by the rise of ISIL.

Security analysts have put the number of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, travelling from scores of countries around the world, in the thousands.

Abbott has said that at least 70 Australians were fighting in Iraq and Syria backed by about 100 Australia-based “facilitators”.

The government, which recently warned that the balance between freedom and security “may have to shift”, is also introducing controversial data retention laws it says are needed to tackle security and criminal threats.

Critics say the data laws go too far in compromising privacy, will be too costly and could lay journalists and whistleblowers open to hefty prison sentences.

Source: World Bulletin.