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Gaza War: Israeli, Palestinian Envoys Lay Bare Conditions for End of Hostilities

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Gaza War: Israeli, Palestinian Envoys Lay Bare Conditions for End of Hostilities

By: Michael Mike

Both Israeli and Palestinian envoys to Nigeria have laid bare the conditions to ending ongoing hostilities in Gaza

While the Israeli ambassador, Michael Freeman insisted that Hamas must be eliminated for peace to reign, his Palestinian counterpart said the investigation of war crimes remained only solution to a sustained peace in the troubled area.

Though both envoys seem unmoved in their conditions but they expressed commitment to peaceful coexistence.

The commitment comes as thousands of casualties are recorded on both sides of the divide in the ongoing war.

The two envoys were brought to give their side of the story at the 4th webinar edition of the Geopolitics Series on Thursday, which focused on the ‘Israel-Hamas War and the Way Forward.’

The event, organised by the Media Centre for Development (MCD) in Abuja, Nigeria, in collaboration with the West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) in Dakar, Senegal, brought together stakeholders, Ambassadors of Israel and Palestine, and prominent voices across Africa. This collaborative effort seeks to address the critical pre-conditions set by each side, acknowledging their impact on survival.

The Convener of Geopolitics Series Senator Iroegbu,, opened the dialogue with a strong emphasis on shedding light on the pressing issue, exploring pathways to peaceful coexistence and development.

Iroegbu stressed that the dialogue, conducted under the theme ‘Bridging Divides for Sustainable Peace in the Middle East and Beyond,’ aimed to promote understanding, address humanitarian considerations, comprehend global implications, and unlock the potential for African involvement.

“The 4th Edition of Geopolitics Series focuses on the Israel-Hamas conflict, transcending boundaries for global resonance. In partnership with West African Democracy Radio, we strive for peace, uniting voices, including the Palestinian and Israeli Ambassadors. The theme highlights our commitment to understanding, coexistence, and addressing humanitarian concerns with global implications. In these crucial moments, we aim to illuminate the conflict’s origins, challenges, and potential solutions,” Iroegbu said.

Freeman the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria and the Permanent Representative of Israel to ECOWAS, expressed a commitment to peaceful coexistence. He highlighted the inhumane treatment of Israelis, lamenting the murders, killings of families, and the horrific acts of rape against women by Hamas. Freeman expressed concern over Hamas’s refusal to release hostages taken during the conflict, detailing the scale of attacks and the impact on peace talks.

He said: “We are witnessing a heartbreaking reality where children are ruthlessly killed in the presence of their parents, and parents are brutally murdered before their own children. This level of brutality surpasses even the atrocities committed by ISIS. Hamas, in a disturbing act of pride, televised this horrific attack, openly declaring their intent to repeat it.

“For Israel, our priority is ensuring that Hamas does not perpetrate such atrocities again. Ceasing fire is a possibility, but the release of kidnapped victims is non-negotiable. If Hamas genuinely desires an end to the conflict, they must commit to a long-term cessation, not a temporary pause for regrouping and subsequent attacks.”

“Hamas’s current agenda aims to inflate casualty numbers for manipulation against Israel. They possess hidden weapon facilities, and even terrorists surrendering from hospitals reveal their insidious tactics. Their call for a ceasefire is not rooted in genuine intent but rather in strategic words lacking sincerity,” Freeman stated.

Addressing the path to peace, Freeman outlined key considerations, including condemning the events of October 7th, ending the education of children to kill Jews, and acknowledging the Jewish people. He underscored the need for Palestinian leaders to stand up against Hamas’s actions, release hostages, and embrace compromise for peace.

Responding to accusations of civilian casualties, Freeman acknowledged it as the unfortunate reality of war but highlighted Israeli efforts to create safe zones and minimise casualties.

In response, the Palestinian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdullah AbuShawesh, affirmed the Palestinian commitment to peace. He stressed that Palestinians do not harbour hatred for Jews but rather concerned about prevailing thoughts in Israeli leadership. Shawesh delved into historical events, tracing tensions back to 1917, and denied allegations of rape, asserting a commitment to truth and dialogue.

He said: “The Israeli settlers are responsible for the horrifying acts of burning and burying Palestinians. The claim of widespread rape is baseless and untrue, contrary to the facts.

“We stand resilient against attempts to eradicate us from our land, a struggle dating back to 1917, but we will not succumb. Our acknowledgment of the Israeli people’s right to live is not synonymous with teaching hatred towards Jews; such allegations are unfounded.”

“It is crucial to recognise that Israeli supremacy is deeply embedded in their leadership, as evidenced by historical remarks. Dispelling misinformation is paramount for fostering understanding and seeking a just resolution to the longstanding conflict.”

In seeking solutions, Ambassador Shawesh proposed an inquiry commission, independently investigating claims from both sides. He urged involvement from the African Union and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to address what he termed war crimes committed by Israel.

Ms. Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, an American-Israeli activist, American-Israeli activist Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, expressed deep concern for the aftermath of the war, particularly its impact on women and girls. A tearful Jaskoll described the impact in Israel following the attack, disclosing that people are volunteering daily for funerals as parents bury their children.

She emphasised that Hamas is not a solution for peace; it must go for peace to prevail. She highlighted the devastating impact on women and girls, revealing evidence of sexual assault on young girls after the attack, while calling for women to be part of decision-making processes, emphasising the need for peace for the sake of future generations.

“It is imperative for women to be active participants in decision-making committees, bringing forth their creative ideas. Our pursuit of peace is fundamentally for the well-being of our children. Let us invest our time in securing a future for our children through concerted efforts. Recognize that none of us is going anywhere unless we collectively strive for a harmonious and prosperous future, “she said.

Speaking on ‘Nigerian/African diplomacy and perspective in resolving the conflict’, former Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, Amb. Usman Sarki, insisted on the two-state solution. Sarki noted that the positions of both Nigeria and Africa is that Palestinians deserves the rights to statehood and called for a “reinvigorated and enhanced roles of the United Nations” as well as the full implementation of the UN Resolution in 1947.

“Nigeria and Africa should call for Palestine to become a full-fledged member of the United Nations…recognition of the rights of Palestine to exist as country within the 1967 border”, he added.

In her welcome address, the Station Manager of WADR, Ms. Agnes John-Thomasi, stressed the profound loss experienced by both sides and advocated for unity through dialogue, recognizing it as the path to true peace.

“The road to lasting peace may be challenging, but it is not insurmountable. Together, let us construct bridges for peaceful coexistence, for the world truly needs peace,” John-Thomasi said.

Other speakers include Mr. Fidel Amakye Owusu, Security and Geopolitical Advisor, Riley Risk Inc, Ghana who gave an ‘Overview: What has geopolitics to do with this conflict – from Africa to the wider world’; and Dr. Samuel Ayegba, Department of Defence and Security Studies, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, who ‘Explored the role…perspectives of the academic institutions.

The webinar concluded with a shared understanding that the road to lasting peace may be challenging but is not insurmountable. The commitment expressed by Israel and Palestine, coupled with the engagement of stakeholders, marks a significant step toward fostering understanding and seeking solutions for sustainable peace.

Gaza War: Israeli, Palestinian Envoys Lay Bare Conditions for End of Hostilities

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Russia Commends ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting of Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

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Russia Commends ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting of Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

By: Michael Mike

Russia has commended the decision of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lift some of the sanctions imposed on departing members of the bloc, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso as a result of military intervention in civilian rule.

An official statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said: “The window for dialogue between the Sahel States Alliance (SSA) and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.”

The statement read: “On February 24th, an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Abuja, Nigeria, where the most pressing regional issues were discussed. The forum resulted in a series of important decisions, including those addressing the preservation of ECOWAS unity in light of the recent announcement by the leadership of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso of their “immediate” withdrawal from its membership. These countries, amidst the Community’s imposed restrictions, established a new integrative alliance in September 2023, named the “Sahel States Alliance” (SSA), aimed at consolidating efforts in national defense and security.

“It has been reported that among other measures, ECOWAS announced a partial lifting of sanctions against Niger, including the reopening of land and air borders, unfreezing of Nigerien assets in the Central Bank and Community commercial banks, resumption of trade and financial transactions, electricity supplies, and other services, as well as the provision of assistance from ECOWAS financial institutions.

“The Russian side emphasizes that the West African states should determine their own ways to resolve the current situation. The window for dialogue between the SSA and ECOWAS remains open, and the decisions made at the Abuja summit can be seen as a demonstration of political will in the interest of maintaining Community unity.

“Moscow reaffirms its unwavering readiness to enhance cooperation with Sahelian states in formats they deem most suitable for collectively addressing existing economic challenges and threats to their security.”

Russia Commends ECOWAS’ Partial Lifting of Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

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Palestinian Ambassador Sends SOS to Stop Impending Famine in Gaza

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Palestinian Ambassador Sends SOS to Stop Impending Famine in Gaza

By: Michael Mike

The Palestinian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdullah Shawesh, has called for urgent assistance from across the globe to safe Gaza from impending famine.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the envoy said should nothing be done to forestall the current catastrophe brought about by incessant attacks by Israeli force and distorting of humanitarian aids movement into Gaza, the besieged city may be under the siege of famine and epidemic.

According to him, Thursday marked 132 days since the war began, hundreds of people died due to lack of proper medical treatment and infectious diseases has already invaded and famine is knocking on the door.

He alleged that Palestinians in Gaza today are being forced to choose between being killed, maimed, or fleeing their homes and 70 percent of them are already refugees who fled their homeland 76 years ago.

The envoy said Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Coordinator said, and I quote, “Today, I’m sounding the alarm once again: Military operations in Rafah could lead to a slaughter in Gaza.

“They could also leave an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door.

“As a result of this continuous war, humanitarian workers have been shot at, held at gunpoint, attacked, and killed, they lack the safety guarantees, aid supplies and the staff capacity to keep operations afloat.”

Shawesh also said that there is a risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases due to unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, and the heavy burden on the health system.

“Out of the 22 health units affiliated with the UNRWA, only four are operating due to the destruction and access restrictions; only thirteen hospitals out of 36 in Gaza are functioning.

“According to the Minister of Health, there have been 223,000 cases of acute respiratory infections, 158,000 cases of diarrhea, 53% of which were among children under the age of five, 55,472 cases of scabies and lice, 38,010 cases of skin rash, and 5,330 cases of chickenpox, in addition to several cases of relapsing hepatitis,” he added.

The Ambassador stressed that international community has been warning against the dangerous consequences of any ground invasion in Rafah and the Government of Israel cannot continue to ignore these calls.

Palestinian Ambassador Sends SOS to Stop Impending Famine in Gaza

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UK Signs Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with Nigeria

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UK Signs Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with Nigeria

By: Michael Mike

The United Kingdom has signed an Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) with Nigeria to boost trade and investment between the two countries and unlock new opportunities for UK and Nigerian businesses.

UK Minister for Trade and Business Kemi Badenoch signed the ETIP alongside her Nigerian counterpart Nigerian Trade Minister Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) is the first the UK has signed with an African country and is designed to grow the UK and Nigeria’s already thriving trading relationship, which totalled £7 billion in the year to September 2023.

This arrangement will pave the way for opportunities in sectors crucial to both economies such as finance and legal services as well as foster new collaborations in innovative areas like the creatives industry. The visit by the Secretary of State comes a week ahead of a UK Government-led fashion and beauty trade delegation to Nigeria.

The ETIP also initiates further collaboration on the UK’s ambitious Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), launched last year which puts in place simpler and more generous trading terms for Nigeria and 36 other African countries.

Nigeria is a major beneficiary of changes introduced by the DCTS and will see tariff reductions on over 3000 products, meaning that 99% of existing Nigerian exports to the UK by value will be duty free. Tariffs have been removed on Nigerian goods which promote value addition in important non-oil export sectors such as cocoa butter and paste, sesame oil and clothing and apparel. These changes will boost trade with the UK and support the Federal Government of Nigeria’s wider trade policy priorities.

Badenoch said: “The UK and Nigeria are vital partners, with longstanding historical and economic ties.

“UK businesses are already seeing huge success in Nigeria – one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

“I’m delighted to be here to sign our new enhanced partnership which will allow UK firms to export their world-class goods and services more easily and expand their footprint in Nigeria.”

Nigerian Minister for Trade Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite said: “The UK is one of our long-standing strategic partners with whom we share strong ties, and it gladdens me that this relationship is set to deepen as we sign the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership.

“This partnership will see Nigeria-UK relations move beyond one of shared history and strong ties to one of shared economic prosperity. From increasing market access and supporting our vibrant businesses, to creating more jobs and accelerate greater investments in sectors of mutual interests.”

The ETIP will help to build on the significant progress already made in resolving market access barriers in the education and financial sectors, which have led to a more favourable trading environment for UK and Nigerian businesses.

In addition, through this partnership, there is an opportunity to leverage UK and international investment from the City of London, which is home to the top financial and professional services.

TheCityUK International Managing Director Nicola Watkinson said: “Nigeria is an important growth market for the UK-based financial and related professional services industry and TheCityUK welcomes the signing of the new ETIP.
“We look forward to continuing our engagement through the working groups to increase market access and remove regulatory frictions.”

During the visit, Minister Badenoch will also hold a groundbreaking ceremony at Abuja’s first industrial park built by UK-Turkish construction firm Zeberced Ltd to open its support services areas at the site.

The UK government has been supporting the firm in a number of areas. The $144m industrial park is set to create 620 direct jobs and 1,650 indirect jobs and provide a base for major firms to access central and northern Nigeria.

The UK trade minister will in addition, witness the signing of a landmark energy agreement between UK based energy firm Konexa and Nigerian power generation company North South Power (NSP).

The agreement will enable Konexa to supply Nigerian Breweries PLC with 100% renewable power, promote sustainable development and clean energy adoption, and lead to infrastructure investments of over £14 million.

Konexa CEO Pradeep Pursnani said: “This is a very important milestone for Konexa, North South Power, Nigerian Breweries, and all our investment partners. Over the last few years, Konexa has been working on a disruptive model that matches customer energy demand with renewable energy supply.

“We are looking forward to investing more than £120m in renewable energy generation, transmission, distribution, and battery storage solutions to help our customers transition away from the use of fossil fuel.”

UK exports to Nigeria were £4 billion in the 12 months to the end of September 2023, an increase of 3% in current prices from the 12 months to September 2022.Of this, £1.3 billion were goods and £2.6 billion were services.

The ETIP will build on the UK’s Developing Countries Trading Scheme, which has already granted enhanced preferential access for over 3000 products, meaning that 99% of existing Nigerian exports to the UK by value will be duty free.

Tariffs have been removed on Nigerian goods in important non-oil export sectors such as cocoa butter and paste, sesame oil and clothing and apparel.

For example, 14% of tariffs have been removed on prepared tomatoes, 4.5% removed on sesame oil, 6.4% removed for woven cotton, 4.5% removed on cocoa paste, and 12.5% removed on plantains.

Working groups and business dialogues will take place to ensure businesses on both sides benefit and have access to the opportunities the ETIP presents.

Following the Secretary of State’s visit, His Majesty’s Deputy Trade Commissioner for Africa, will be leading a fashion and beauty retail Trade Mission from the UK to Nigeria with 8 UK brands looking to form retail and e-commerce partnerships in Nigeria. These include the Boohoo Group, Kartel Watches and The Gel Bottle amongst others.

Konexa has a Generation and Trading license, TUoS (Transmission use of system) agreement with TCN and DUoS (Distribution use of System) agreement with DISCOS that enables them to wheel renewable electrons through transmission and distribution networks to supply customers, including investment in improving the network.

North South Power (NSP) is an indigenous power generation company with over 600MW of operating hydro already operating on the national grid (approx. 8% of national energy supply). The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) being signed is for a new 30MW hydro asset that they are commissioning in December 2024

The new deal will help supply Nigerian Breweries (Heineken,Kaduna), with 100% renewable power – using a combination of Hydropower, battery storage and a power management system – marking a significant step towards sustainable industrial operations in the region.

UK Signs Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with Nigeria

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