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The Italian Prime Minister announces his resignation after the crisis unleashed by Matteo Salvini

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces his resignation Tuesday in a speech in the Senate with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini
  • Salvini began on August 9 the so-called ‘mojito crisis’ by announcing from the beach the rupture of the coalition with the 5 Star Movement and the presentation of a motion of censure against the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte.
  • “The Government stops here. I will listen to all the speeches and then I will go to the Quirinal to resign,” said Conte.
  • “I am a free man and I am not afraid of the judgment of the Italians. Here there are free men and others who are less free. Those who are afraid of voting are not free,” Salvini said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation Tuesday during a speech in the Senate following the crisis unleashed by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces his resignation Tuesday in a speech in the Senate with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini

“The current crisis definitely compromises the experience of this Government, which stops here,” Conte said during his speech. “I will listen to all the speeches and then I will go to the Quirinal to resign,” he added.

” Salvini’s decision violates the solemn commitment made with the government contract,” Conte denounced. “The moment of Salvini’s decision exposes the country to serious risks,” added the still prime minister, who has also accused the Interior Minister of pursuing personal and partisan interests and of “lack of constitutional culture.”

Salvini, leader of the ultra-right-wing League formation, has responded to the prime minister: “I would do the same thing again. I am a free man and I am not afraid of the judgment of the Italians. Here are free men and others who are less free. who are afraid to vote are not free, “Salvini responded in the Senate session.

Salvini started on August 9, known as the ‘mojito crisis’. Between beach and beach, music, dances, friends and mojitos, the Interior Minister broke the coalition with the 5 Star Movement (M5S), called for general elections as soon as possible taking advantage of the pull of the polls and announced a motion of censure against Conte.

“I ask the Italians to give me full powers to be able to do what we have promised without stones in the shoe. Whoever chooses Salvini knows what he chooses,” the political representative announced during one of his vacation rallies along the coast.

A few days later, Salvini’s order to seize power experienced his first defeat. The Italian Senate, with the votes of the M5S and the Democratic Party (center-left), overthrew the proposal of the ultra-rightist to expel Conte. Then, the Chamber set an appearance of the prime minister for this Tuesday.

“Dear Giuseppe, today is an important day. The day when the League will have to answer for its faults for having decided to tear it all down, opening a crisis in mid-August, on the beach, just for using the polls. Today in the Senate. M5S ministers will be by your side, “Luigi Di Maio, deputy prime minister, and leader of the 5 Star Movement said shortly before the session. “Whatever happens, I wanted to tell you that it was an honor to work together in this Government,” he said.

Several sectors of the M5S and the Democratic Party, including former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, advocate an alliance between the two parties to avoid holding elections and a foreseeable victory for the League.

Minutes before the speech of Conte in the Senate, followers of the League and the 5 Star Movement have faced the doors of the Senate. Salvini’s followers have demanded elections and those of the M5S have shown their support for the prime minister.

Salvini has referred during his speech to his immigration decisions. “And or I have not had to go talk to Merkel to ask for advice to save the election campaign because Salvini had closed the ports. I have done it and will do it again if the Italians give me the opportunity. Endpoint,” he said. “If there are those who agree with clandestine immigration, they have nothing to do with me. Regarding sovereignty: freedom is not about having a fair boss, but about not having a boss. We have the freedom to defend our borders and beaches,” has added.

“I answer only to the Italian people, neither to Merkel nor to Macron, only to men, women, and children, and I am not ashamed to say, children who have a father and a mother,” said the ultra-rightist.

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“Before his kibbutz, there was a Palestinian people”

The Israeli Eitan Bronstain

Commotion or denial: the exhibition organized by an Israeli in the only house that remained in the Palestinian village of Al Main after the exile of 1948 does not leave the current Jewish residents next to Gaza indifferent, who did not know the history of those who inhabited what today They are his kibbutz.

“I am with a heavy heart,” clears the fist the Israeli Gadi Moses, who has come out in the middle of the screening of the documentary where the grandson of the owner of the house, Ahmed Abu Sitta (Abu Ala), tells what his hometown was like and how his family took refuge in the Gazati town of Jan Younes, just seven kilometers away, today separated by a metal fence.

“But I think it doesn’t show the whole story,” adds Moses, who assures Efe that he is torn between heart and head.

It is one of the slightly more than 100 visitors, mostly residents of the neighboring kibbutz – agricultural communities of socialist origin -, which has come this week to the exhibition of the Israeli Eitan Bronstein created, in Hebrew, so that the local public knows a past Of which few had references.

“The history of 48 (the creation of the State of Israel and the exile of more than 700,000 Palestinians) does not affect us more than the present,” Moses meditates and assures that the new generations will not understand the exhibition because what worries them is fear of their children.

And it is that in this symbolic place of crops, which is accessed by roads with bomb shelters next to bus shelters and from where Gaza can be seen, thousands of Palestinian militia shells have fallen in recent decades.

So the reactions are polarized, says Bronstein, “some are moved by the history and others reject it. They don’t even believe it because Israel was created in this denial.”

“Our identity as Israelis is based on the denial of Palestinian history,” says Bronstein, founder of the De-Colonizer initiative, which documents the history of historic Palestine and the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) and has created a map in the which locates the ruins of some 500 Arab villages that were totally or partially destroyed with the creation of the State of Israel.

With the help of Abu Ala and an aerial photo of Al Main from 1945, Bronstein has managed to locate stones that once were the grocery store, the school, the irrigation well, and residences, of a population of over a thousand Palestinians, today refugees.

Only the home of the grandfather of Abu Ala that was known as “The White House” by the residents of the kibbutz remains intact, today turned into a gallery that has shown the unknown history of the town for five days.

“The classic Zionist story is that the areas were depopulated, but today there are few people who maintain that lie. Currently, Israel does what it is to confuse between the Nakba and the war (of Independence, 1948)” when exile and destruction of Palestinian villages began before and continued later.

“From here, from there” challenges the narratives in this way about what happened in those years, while putting on the table the controversial “right of Palestinian refugees to return,” recognized in international resolutions and which Israel rejects.

It is one of the questions that Bronstein also poses to visitors, and to which Moses defends his residence as a “national motive,” while what he criticizes is the “current Jewish occupation of the Palestinian territory of the West Bank” (which began in 1967 ), but also the attack on civilians from Gaza.

“If you want to attack the Army, go ahead, no problem, but when they started attacking people they lost their mind,” he says.

The overlapping of narratives and personal stories, the debates between the solution of a single state or two are reflected in the conversations of the visitors that, in turn, coincide in a progressive deterioration of the situation.

“I think they (the Palestinians) want all or nothing and on this side (Israelis) little by little too. People have lost the commitment,” Moses laments without losing optimism.

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Internal corruption corrodes the Palestinian cause

President Mahmoud Abbas
  • The lack of mechanisms to detect and combat corruption within the Palestinian institutional framework makes corruption one of the main dysfunctions of its political system.
  • Filtered documents detail how President Mahmoud Abás and his Government have been enriched by salary increases since 2014, despite the adverse economic situation in Palestine.
  • Trump wanted to push the failed ‘Agreement of the Century’ through the Bahrain summit, which is based on the distribution of economic gifts in exchange for the transfer of territory to Israel.
President Mahmoud Abbas
After the decision to boycott the Bahrain summit, President Mahmoud Abbas says: “We will not be slaves of Kushner, Greenblatt, and Friedman.” EFE

Nepotism and corruption are two of the endemic evils that have been reproduced for generations in the Middle East. If during the Oslo Process they emerged within the framework of several joint initiatives such as the one in the Jericho casino, in which some Palestinian and Israeli leaders distributed benefits in detriment to the general interest, everything suggests that this dysfunction could now extend to other Arab countries. 

The recent  Bahrain summit,  held at the end of June, whose main rapporteur was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has created the ideal farmland for corruption to spread further throughout the region.

Held in Manama in June, this initiative aims to generate 50,000 million dollars to invest in the development and prosperity of the area (allocating 28,000 to the West Bank and Gaza, dividing the rest between Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon). For the veteran leaders of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who boycotted the Conference, this initiative has as its ultimate objective to liquidate the Palestinian national cause. Go from the axiom of ‘peace for territories’ in Oslo to ‘peace for prosperity’.

In this context, accusations of corruption between them have become the main throwing weapon. “It is a clear attempt to make it appear that we live in an oasis of luxury and corruption, based on the filtering of documents that are presented to us as if we were all thieves and corrupt,” said Al Fatah Information Manager Munir. Al-Jaghoub “Now Jason Greenblatt (special envoy of the Trump Administration) seems very concerned about the salary increase that Palestinian ministers have benefited from, but, nevertheless, he doesn’t say a single word about the three corruption cases of his friend Netanyahu” he adds indignantly, emphasizing that the Israeli prime minister is being investigated for two years by the State Attorney General’s Office.

Interested leaks

On the eve of the Bahrain Conference, the Associated Press agency delegation in Ramallah received several documents that called into question the transparency and accountability of the ANP. One of them showed how in 2017 the Office of the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abás, authorized a salary increase of $ 4,000 to $ 6,000 per month for the Prime Minister, and from 3,000 to 5,000 for the other members of the Cabinet, at that time led by the already resigned Rami Hamdala. Said  salary increase of 67%It took place retroactively since the formation of the government in 2014, within an adverse economic situation in which the ANP carried out significant cuts between its civil and security officials (whose salaries range between 700 and 1,500 dollars), causing popular anger and forcing the President to cancel the salary increase of ministers.

“In my opinion, the salaries of the ministers remained low for a long time, so the increase had its logic,” explains the correspondent for Palestinian affairs of Haaretz, Amira Hass. “Talented people are leaving to work for international companies and not for the ANP state bureaucracy. The fact that wages are low is one of the reasons for this brain drain,” continues Hass, one of the best connoisseurs of the Palestinian reality. Still aware that nepotism and corruption corrode the political system, the Israeli always encourages external observers to proceed with caution and rigorously contrast the multiple accusations that circulate through social networks.

“I remember a leak that I read on Facebook that said that Abbas’ grandson, 5, had received a diplomatic passport from the ANP. But is it true or false?” Hass asks. “The people of Mohamed Dahlán (an important Palestinian political leader – and Abbas’s rival – who was expelled in 2010) are likely to filter many of these accusations, as the President’s people extend incriminating accusations against them,” he adds. “What to believe? It is difficult to know since there is no tradition of Palestinian investigative journalism,” Hass concludes in an interview with eldiario.es.

“The truth is that Abbas and his children do not stop increasing their wealth,” accuses the founder of the new Reformation and Development party, Ashraf Jabari, who has precisely led the delegation of 15 businessmen from the West Bank who chose to ignore the boycott promoted by the ANP against the Bahrain Conference. “The Anti-Corruption Commission is nothing more than a smokescreen to hide the scandals and satisfy the EU,” adds Jabari, who claims during one of the interviews of the documentary ‘Terror, Racket and Corruption’ that the community bloc should launch an audit of the large donations given to the ANP since 1994, “which would show how billions of dollars have disappeared from the public treasury.”

The usual suspects

The main suspect of Palestinian corruption is the former director of the Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlán, possibly the politician who has generated the most controversial and social polarization in recent years, given that he was one of the main candidates to assume the presidency of the ANP – in fact, the favorite of the international community – but fell out of favor when Abbas felt he was conspiring against him. Since then, Dahlán lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is credited with a wealth of more than 100 million euros, accumulated from the investment of the benefits that were reported by the extra costs that he collected at the border crossings of the Stripe.

Likewise, Yaser Arafat’s former personal advisor, Mohammed Rashid, became a non-grata person in Palestine after emptying government coffers and moving his operations center from Ramallah to Cairo, and from there to London. The attorney general of the National Authority, Ahmed al Mughani, accused the elusive Rashid, who was tried in absentia by the Anti-Corruption Court on June 2012 and sentenced to serve 15 years in prison and pay a fine of 15 million dollars, in addition to returning another 34 million dollars sheared from the Palestinian Investment Fund. Al Mughani tried to process a search and capture order through Interpol, but since the ANP does not belong to the organization as it is not yet a member state of the UN, Rashid continues to live quietly in exile and make lucrative private business with money Of all the Palestinians.

Another usual suspect is the Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein A-Sheikh, on whom there are accusations of illegal possession of weapons (A-Sheikh has a private militia in Ramallah, although not as numerous as the one that Dahlán had in Gaza ), economic corruption and sexual harassment. Allegations before which the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Rafik Al-Natche, has always taken a profile. 

Likewise, the Foreign Minister,  Riad Malki, has several files opened for alleged cases of corruption in several of his Embassies and for fraudulent use of diplomatic passports. The Prosecutor’s Office has never acted against Malki since he has the favor of President Abbas, which has allowed him to retain his portfolio indefinitely.

Fighting corruption

The complex institutional framework that operates in the West Bank – in which the Al-Fatah structures intersect with those of the PLO and in turn these with those of the PNA, despite the fact that each one has its own budgets and donors – hinders the articulation of effective control and prevention mechanisms. Thus, Palestine does not have a national branch of the specialized NGO Transparency International (unlike Israel, which has an office in Tel Aviv, run by Heli Olami). Instead, it does have an associated organization known under the name of AMAN, Coalition for Transparency and Integrity. 

Despite the fact that during Abbas’ mandate “the ANP has provided itself with a series of specific institutional instruments to fight corruption – such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Corruption Court, the economic crimes section of the State Attorney General’s Office, the Council of the Judiciary and the figure of an Ombudsman of all security forces with the ability to investigate any type of allegation presented against them – in the end all are subordinated to the Executive branch, “says AMAN coalition director Mahdi Abu Zeid . “This is coupled with the fact that the Legislative Council has not functioned since 2007, so there is no parliamentary control of the Government,” he said.

From AMAN they consider that the solution to the problem involves “the development and implementation of a national plan with the participation of all the actors involved in the fight against corruption, which should be led by the Anti-Corruption Commission and articulate an effective evaluation system with Smart indicators, in addition to the urgent need to introduce greater transparency in public budget management, “adds Abu Zeid. A plan that should also include the participation of donors, especially the EU, enforcing the popular axiom of Muhammad’s Law: as guilty is he who gives as he takes.

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“To say that we are going against the Irsaelis is to try to discredit the most effective formula against the occupation of Palestine”

Mahmoud Nawajaa
  • The boycott, divestment and sanctions strategy against the State of Israel has focused on Spain in motions in the municipalities that are now being sued for it.
  • “The international authorities prefer to give money to the Palestinians instead of freedom and the locals sometimes benefit from this situation,” says the strategy coordinator.

Mahmoud Nawajaa

One hundred town halls – mostly from Andalusia and Catalonia – face the demands that Spanish-Jewish organizations and the Zionist organization ACOM have been presenting for a couple of months for joining the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel as long as its occupation of Palestine and the apartheid regime persist. Mahmoud Nawajaa is the national coordinator of the BDS committee, currently the most successful Palestinian resistance formula against the occupation, to the point that the State of Israel wanted to teach this movement with the arrest of its founder,  Omar Barghouti.

Why the BDS?

There is an occupation backed in turn by more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians and by a policy of promoting colonialism that has led to an apartheid regime. There is global complicity of the rest of the countries and that is why this type of response is needed. There are three requirements that we put forward: end of the occupation, end of apartheid and end of discrimination. Attempts are being made to isolate this regime so that it collapses since the approval of sanctions that are not effective afterward are useless. 

However, Israel’s response is to accuse them of going against their people …

We do not attack individuals, but institutions. What happens is that for the Government of Israel we are a strategic threat. This is because BDS is successful. It is not a matter of morality or image, but companies are losing money with it. To say that we are going against the Israelis is to try to discredit the most effective formula against the occupation of Palestine. We are already finding that they prevent the entry into Palestine of people who has supported our campaign.

There has been controversy over boycotts of certain artists in which they do go against a specific person …

We do not encourage boycotting the show of all Israeli artists. We do this if that person has openly supported the apartheid regime, for example, or if he receives sponsorship from the Government of Israel for that occasion. 

After 12 years of this movement, what successes would you highlight?

In 2014, for example, our pressure on Soda Stream (Israel’s soda company) led to stores in America and Europe withdrawing the product, just as the company had to move its factory in Mishor Adumim, right next to a colony. In 2015, the withdrawal of the French corporation Veolia from the Jerusalem Light Rail, a system built to facilitate the expansion of the colonies in occupied territory, culminated. In 2016, Orange resigned from Israel. But there are also more than 2,000 academics who have signed the boycott in this area. 

Do you intend to publish some kind of list that serves to know which are those institutions and companies that would be complicit in the suffering of Palestine?

We do not make lists, but we have a selection method and the campaigns are by regions and/or by areas. You cannot ask in Germany, for the obvious reasons of its recent history, the same as in the United Kingdom. That is why the regions are important. For example, in Spain, the focus was on the approval of motions in the consistories, which has led to the demands. The country where more institutions have supported the campaign. 

The demands are based on the fact that discrimination against Israelis is being promoted and that the principles of public procurement are violated. Rocío Ruiz, Councilor of Casares (Málaga), one of the first municipalities to join the campaign, poses the difficulties of these local administrations to face these demands due to the lack of means. 

We are aware of it. In fact, we must try to bet on our organization to have a strong legal apparatus that can be used for these situations. 

What other legal difficulties are you encountering?

The Government of Israel wants to push for a couple of laws that would mean illegalizing the right to boycott in general. If that goes ahead … 

Your most recent campaign is against the HP company, why?

Because it sells software for checkpoints and develops it for the armament of Israel. It plays, therefore, a role in oppression against the Palestinians.

How do you select your goals?

We select each objective carefully, taking into account our principles and the chances of success. I insist: it is not against the Israelis, but against a regime. First, you have to find the reason to decide the boycott in each case. The important thing is justification.

They speak of the passivity of the Palestinian National Authority. What do you think of the possibility of its real involvement in this movement?

It is a waste of time trying to persuade our governments.

Do you have partners in Israel?

Yes, but they are being very threatened. At the moment it is about resistance strategies against this brutal regime and then it will touch the political issue.

Can BDS harm the Palestinians themselves?

It does affect the Palestinians because, for example, they do not let their products enter Israel. But in reality, Israel has already shattered the Palestinian economy, which lives on international donations. They sell us our own water five times more expensive than what an Israeli pays for it. Other times it directly affects them like the 500 Palestinians who worked at the Soda Stream factory that was closed but decided to pay that price for freedom.

But is there an economy in Palestine to deal with this boycott of Israel?

It is very difficult to rebuild our economy under occupation. International authorities prefer to give money to Palestinians instead of freedom and locals sometimes benefit from this situation.

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Raised children hiding in the richest neighborhoods in Pakistan: “They boiled water on me”

Domestic work in conditions of slavery is common among minors in Pakistan.
  • Up to 264,000 children work in domestic service in Pakistan and, despite the increase in protests, the problem intensifies.
  • Uzma Bibi, a 16-year-old maid, was tortured and killed in Lahore by her employer, who accused her of eating a piece of meat that was not her own: her case went viral on Twitter.
  • Humaira recounts the type of abuse that happens indoors: “They hid me for days so that nobody could see me”.

Domestic work in conditions of slavery is common among minors in Pakistan.

Every night, after twelve hours of domestic work, Neelum, 11, and Pari, 13, leave a luxurious mansion surrounded by well-cut grass in the dazzling La Defense neighborhood in Karachi. They return to the accommodation of the servants and sleep on a thin mattress, full of termites and with the hunger that causes feeding on the remains of the food of others.

Behind glass doors that shine like mirrors in the richest neighborhood in the country, thousands of children work as servants. It is estimated that in all of Pakistan, up to 264,000 children would be working in the domestic service. Reports of abuse have become commonplace.

In January, Uzma Bibi, a 16-year-old maid, was tortured and killed in Lahore by her employer, who accused her of eating a piece of meat that was not her own. His case went viral on Twitter with the tag #justiceforUzma, which resulted in three people being arrested, the employer included. The three remain detained awaiting trial.

 

The same thing had happened in 2018, protests on social networks after the dissemination of the photographs of Tayyaba, a 10-year-old girl brutally beaten. He worked for a judge and his wife. The couple was acquitted for the blows but sentenced for refusal of help and sentenced to one year in jail.

Despite the increase in protests, activists report that the problem is intensifying. “The situation is getting worse,” says Ume Laila, executive director of HomeNet Pakistan, a human rights organization. “No one protects children in their jobs and unless a comprehensive legal framework for the protection of domestic employees is implemented, the situation will not improve,” he denounces. It is necessary to raise awareness and concrete measures, “he adds.

“The support that appears on social networks does not matter. On an issue like this, it does not translate into positive or substantive results in Pakistan,” adds child rights activist Fazela Gulrez. “The most that can be expected is a law passed in the midst of this uproar that fits well in the reports to the United Nations but does not change anything on the ground. The immediate reaction can be intense but it is still temporary. Actually, It doesn’t change anything, “he says.

One of the most important obstacles has to do with the fact that child labor is standardized in Pakistani society and passing stricter child protection laws do not interest the many who hire children as servants. “Not only the richest and most powerful hire children as servants,” Gulrez explains, but “it is a widespread reality among everyone who can afford it.”

“Many prefer to employ young people because they are easier to control and exploit. Poor families offer their children because they are guaranteed two meals and a roof. It is all that matters,” the activist adds. The Punjab Domestic Workers Law, passed this year 2019, does emphasize that child labor should be discouraged. However, his example is not repeated in other provinces.

“They hid me for days”

Humaira’s story is a paradigmatic case of the type of abuse that happens inside. Today, in her twenties, she remembers that when she was a child when her employers started working at home, they burned her and hid her so that nobody could see her. “At ten I had severe malnutrition. I could hardly take the children, who abused me normally, sometimes in words, sometimes physically,” he says.

He explains that parents, through positive reinforcements, encouraged the ‘playful’ behavior of their children. “Once, while playing with the children, they boiled me with boiling water and burned my body from the waist up. I could not walk. The patrons panicked but refused to take me to the hospital. They hid me for days and did not allow me to talk with anyone, “he says. In the end, a neighbor rescued Humaira offered medical assistance and returned her with her family.

Despite the risks, well documented, extreme poverty continues to make parents agree to send their children to these jobs. Agents travel the country, explain the benefits and make false offers about the care children will receive once they leave their homes.

Gulrez contextualizes: “They are homes marked by poverty, with more mouths to feed than food on the plate. I fear that parents want to send their children to work in other homes, even with minimum wages and despite the abuse they may suffer at the hands of their employers. ” In many cases, he adds, the alternative would be to abandon them on the streets to ask for alms, with the added risk of being hooked on drugs or recruited by criminal organizations.

Without adequate protection for workers, in cases of abuse, any opinion against it is silenced. The silence is bought. That is what happened in the case of Bano, a 13-year-old girl who worked in Bahria, a town in the Rahim Yar Khan region, in the center of the country. Her employer threw her out the window and broke her spine. I had no salvation. He died six months later. Instead of going to court, his father agreed to receive 300,000 rupees, less than 2,000 euros.

Activists against child labor do not believe that there will be any change in the near future. Neelum, 11, has resigned himself to his fate. “There was a time when I dreamed … Will I be the one who manages to change our lives? Can I become a pilot? But I have followed in my mother’s footsteps as a maasi [maid]. This has changed me forever. When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see the same person anymore, “he adds.

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