Baltimore Sun

Top Israeli minister: ‘No such thing’ as Palestinia­n people


TEL AVIV, Israel — A firebrand Israeli minister claimed there’s “no such thing” as a Palestinia­n people as Israel’s new coalition government, its most hard-line ever, plowed ahead Monday with a part of its plan to overhaul the judiciary.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition said it was pushing a key part of the overhaul — which would give the coalition control over who becomes a justice or a judge — before the parliament takes a monthlong holiday break next week.

The developmen­t came a day after an Israeli and Palestinia­n delegation at a meeting in Egypt, mediated by Egyptian, Jordanian and U.S. officials, pledged to take steps to lower tensions roiling the region.

It reflected the limited influence the Biden administra­tion appears to have over Israel’s new far-right government and raised questions about attempts to cut the violence ahead of a sensitive holiday season.

As the negotiator­s were issuing a joint communique, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich delivered a speech in Paris saying the notion of a Palestinia­n people was artificial.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinia­n nation. There is no Palestinia­n history. There is no Palestinia­n language,” he said late Sunday in France.

He spoke at a memorial event for a French-Israeli right-wing activist who denied the existence of a Palestinia­n nation and advocated annexation of the West Bank. The lectern was faced with what appeared to be an image showing the map of Israel that included the occupied West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said that Smotrich’s appearance with the icon was a “reckless inflammato­ry act and a violation of internatio­nal norms and the peace treaty” between the two countries.

It later summoned Israel’s ambassador over Smotrich’s remarks.

Ahmed Abu Zaid, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said the Israeli minister’s remarks “deny the facts of history and geography … (and) undermine the efforts aimed at achieving calm between the Palestinia­n and Israeli sides.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Monday released a statement affirming that it is committed to the countries’ 1994 peace agreement.

Oath Keepers convicted:

Four people associated with the Oath Keepers were convicted Monday of conspiracy and obstructio­n charges stemming from the attack on the U.S. Capitol in the latest trial involving members of the far-right anti-government extremist group.

A Washington D.C. jury found Sandra Parker, of Morrow, Ohio; Laura Steele, of Thomasvill­e, North Carolina; William Isaacs, of Kissimmee, Florida; and Connie Meggs, of Dunnellon, Florida, guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and other felony charges.

In a loss for prosecutor­s, Sandra Parker’s husband, Bennie Parker, was acquitted of obstructio­n as well as one conspiracy charge, and a sixth defendant — Michael Greene, of Indianapol­is — was acquitted of two conspiracy charges.

Jurors said they couldn’t reach a verdict on another conspiracy charge for Bennie Parker and the obstructio­n charge for

Greene, so the judge instructed them to keep deliberati­ng. All six defendants were convicted of a misdemeano­r trespassin­g offense.

Biden veto: President Joe Biden issued the first veto of his presidency Monday in an early sign of shifting White House relations with the new Congress since Republican­s took control of the House in January — a move that serves as a prelude to bigger battles with GOP lawmakers on government spending and the nation’s debt limit.

Biden sought to kill a Republican-authored measure that would ban the government from considerin­g environmen­tal impacts or potential lawsuits when making investment decisions for people’s retirement plans. In a video released by the White House, Biden said he vetoed the measure because it “put at risk the retirement savings of individual­s across the country.”

Complicati­ng matters

for Biden, several Democratic senators are up for re-election next year in conservati­ve states, giving them political incentive to put some distance between them and the White House.

A student opened fire at a Dallas-area school Monday morning, killing one student and injuring another before being arrested on a capital murder charge, police said.

The shooting began on a high school campus in the suburb of Arlington around 6:55 a.m., before many students arrived for the first day back to classes after the spring break, according to police and school district officials.

Arlington police Chief Al Jones said Monday that a male student who was shot died at a hospital and a female victim was receiving medical care after being “grazed” by shrapnel, causing injures that aren’t life threatenin­g. He declined to give their ages or grades.

Another male student

Texas school shooting:

was arrested at the scene and charged with capital murder, Jones said at an afternoon news conference. The police chief declined to identify the suspected shooter because he is a minor.

The gunman ran from the scene without ever entering the Lamar High School building and was taken into custody by officers, Jones said.

Pakistan arrests: Pakistani police on Monday arrested scores more supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan for attacking officers over the weekend outside an Islamabad court where the ousted premier was to appear on graft charges, officials said.

Meanwhile, a rocket hit a vehicle carrying Khan supporters in the country’s northwest, killing 10 people.

The arrests were the latest amid legal cases facing Khan, now opposition leader, since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April.

The standoff between the 70-year-old former cricket player turned Islamist politician, and the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, has turned increasing­ly violent.

Yemen agreement: Yemen’s warring sides said Monday that they agreed to release nearly 900 prisoners of war in a U.N.-brokered deal amid internatio­nal efforts to end the yearslong conflict.

The deal on a prisoner exchange capped 10 days of intensive talks in Switzerlan­d between Yemen’s internatio­nally recognized government and the Houthi rebels. The discussion­s were co-chaired by the United Nations and the Internatio­nal Committee of the Red Cross.

The deal involves the release of over 700 Houthi prisoners, said Abdul-Qader el-Murtaza, the head of the Houthi delegation. The Iran-backed Houthis would release more than 180 prisoners, including Saudi and Sudanese troops, he said.

 ?? JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP ?? Blooming blossoms: A family walks among cherry blossom trees that have begun to bloom Monday along the tidal basin in Washington, on the first day of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival runs through April 16.
JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP Blooming blossoms: A family walks among cherry blossom trees that have begun to bloom Monday along the tidal basin in Washington, on the first day of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival runs through April 16.

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