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Iranian FM cancels Austria trip over Israeli flags on government buildings

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has cancelled his official trip to Austria over its move to hoist Israeli flags on government offices in the capital, Vienna, amid the occupying regime’s unabated aggression against Palestinians.

Stephanie Lajinstein, an Austrian journalist, announced on her twitter account on Saturday that Zarif’s trip had been called off at the last minute due to the hoisting of the Israeli flags.

“The cancellation of this trip will not change our good traditional relations and communication channels with Iran. But we will not make our declaration of solidarity with Israel dependent on the diplomatic visits of other countries,” she added.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi had earlier condemned Austria for raising Israeli flags over government offices in Vienna, where intensive talks over the revival of 2015 Iran nuclear deal are underway.

Araqchi praised Vienna in a tweet on Friday as a “great host for negotiations” and called the Austrian move “shocking and painful” as the Israeli regime has, over the past days, killed scores of innocent people in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“Vienna is the seat of IAEA & UN, and Austria so far been a great host for negotiations,” Araqchi wrote. “Shocking and painful to see flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilians, inc many children in just few days, over govt offices in Vienna. We stand with Palestine.”

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had earlier offered condolences to the Israeli regime and ordered the hoisting of the illegal entity’s flag over government offices in the capital.

The move came against the backdrop of pro-Palestinian rallies held in Vienna earlier this week over Tel Aviv’s relentless bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip and Israeli atrocities in Palestinian territories.

Gaza and the other Palestinian territories have been simmering with anger over Israel’s land grab policies in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as well as the regime’s desecration of the al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the third holiest site in Islam.

The tensions spiraled into a broader conflict between Gaza and Israel on Monday, days after the regime in Tel Aviv launched a heady-handed crackdown on Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque during the final days of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Since then, the Israeli military has been launching large-scale airstrikes across Gaza, razing homes and civilian infrastructure to the ground. The regime’s artillery and tanks have also been targeting the blockaded coastal enclave.

Despite international calls for an immediate halt of all hostilities, including from United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged that the offensive against the Gaza Strip will continue.

At least 139 Palestinians, including 39 children and 22 women, have been killed and about 1,000 others injured in Gaza in the Israeli regime’s latest round of aggression.

Palestinian resistance fighters have been responding to Israel’s aggression through massive barrages of rockets and missiles. They have also brought drones into the equation.

Much to Israel’s surprise, rocket launches have largely overwhelmed the regime’s so-called Iron Dome missile systems and hit several cities across the occupied territories, leaving eight people dead and dozens of others injured so far.

French protesters vow to defy ban on pro-Palestinian rallies

On Friday, a French court upheld a police ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country as well as in the capital, Paris, with lawyers for the organizers saying they would appeal the decision.

“We refuse to silence our solidarity with the Palestinians, and we will not be prevented from demonstrating,” the Association of Palestinians in the northern Ile-de-France region said shortly after the court ban was announced.

Earlier, representatives of the association told news media that France was “the only democratic country to forbid these demonstrations.”

The French interior ministry ordered police chiefs across the country on Thursday to keep a close eye on planned demonstrations in support of Palestinians and ban them if necessary, as part of measures to bolster police protection of the Jewish community.

The lawyers for organizers of the rallies said they would appeal to France’s top administrative court, and called the police ban “disproportionate” and “politically motivated.”

Police fire teargas at protesters in Denmark

Elsewhere in Europe, police in Denmark fired teargas and used batons to forcibly disperse pro-Palestinian activists in front of the Israeli Embassy in the capital, Copenhagen.

Media reports said several women and children were affected by the teargas, and that three protesters were arrested during the rally.

Also on Friday, police fired teargas to disperse a crowd of more than 200 people protesting in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, against the Israeli bombing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Several demonstrators were taken into custody.

Protesters waved banners with the Palestinian flag and with the words, “Kenyans stand with Palestine,” and “Our freedom is incomplete without the Freedom of Palestine.”

Netanyahu and the regime’s foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi have thanked their leadership counterparts in the US and Europe for their support concerning Tel Aviv’s brutal aggression on Palestinian territories.

140 progressive groups in US appeal to Biden

In the US, as many as 140 progressive groups called on President Joe Biden to uphold the stated principles of international law and condemn human rights violations against Palestinians.

In a joint statement on Friday, the groups urged the Biden administration to denounce efforts to evict Palestinian families in Jerusalem al-Quds and “exert the utmost diplomatic pressure to prevent these potential war crimes from taking place.”

The statement, signed by prominent advocacy groups, cited the United Nations’ assessment that the displacement campaign in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood may constitute a war crime.

“This takes place in the broader context of Israel’s ongoing policy to forcibly remove Palestinians from their homes through eviction, home demolition, and displacement, with the express intent of pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem in order to create and maintain a Jewish majority and supremacy in the city,” they said.

The progressive groups denounced Israel’s violence against Palestinians, including in Jerusalem al-Quds and at al-Aqsa Mosque specifically.

“We are horrified by Israel’s use of disproportionate and deadly force against Palestinians in Gaza which have already resulted in the killings of dozens of Palestinians, including children,” the statement said.

“This comes within the context of Israel’s 14-year illegal blockade on Gaza which has created an open air prison with severe shortages of life-saving medicines, food, electricity, and clean water, making life unsafe and unbearable. We call on the Biden administration to condemn this violence and address its root causes: Israeli blockade and occupation.”

The signatories of the statement invoked Biden’s own pledge to protect human rights internationally and called on the US president to act.

“The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that it intends to center its foreign policy around respect for human rights and international law,” they said in the statement.

“We therefore call on the administration to uphold international law and act in accordance with the urgency of the moment to prevent the Israel’s forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians.”

Moreover, Palestinian-American analyst Omar Baddar said in a statement that the eviction campaign in the occupied territories amounted to ethnic cleansing.

“Ethnic cleansing is a serious crime, and tepid discouragements or expressions of concern from the Biden administration fall drastically short of what this moment calls for,” Baddar said.

“If we’re going to mean what we say in stating that human rights come first in this administration’s foreign policy, then it’s time to hold Israel accountable and condition US military aid on Israeli compliance with its obligations.”

Since taking office, the Biden administration has adopted the pro-Israel stance of its predecessors, backing the Tel Aviv regime while calling for de-escalation.

 

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