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German police raid properties as pro-Palestinian group banned

Germany has repeatedly stated its support for Israel, calling it a “reason of state” for the country while declaring efforts to tackle antisemitism…reports Asian Lite News

German police in the western city of Duisburg carried out raids on Wednesday on four properties linked to a pro-Palestinian group over its alleged support for Hamas.

The interior ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populated state where the city is located, said it had banned the group Palestine Solidarity Duisburg.

“This ban comes at the right time and sends the right signal,” NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul said in a statement.

“In many cases, solidarity with Palestine hides nothing other than hatred of Jews — as is the case with the organization banned today,” he added.

“We are using all legal options to dry up antisemitism and ideological support for terror. The state has shown a clear stance against extremism today.”

Germany has repeatedly stated its support for Israel, calling it a “reason of state” for the country while declaring efforts to tackle antisemitism.

The state’s Interior Ministry cited the group’s use of slogans such as “From the river to the sea,” which is banned in Germany.  The ministry said the group “continuously incites hatred against the state of Israel and holds it solely responsible for the Middle East conflict.”

The group organizes protests and events against what it describes as Israeli “apartheid” and “genocide” against Palestinians, both of which Israel has denied. The group’s website platforms other pro-Palestinian groups, including Jewish organizations. The group has repeatedly reported on social media about police “censoring” its protests.

The ministry said Palestine Solidarity Duisburg was also linked to “like-minded” groups such as the banned Samidoun organization. Authorities in Germany have previously raided and banned pro-Palestinian groups, accusing many of their members of supporting terrorist organizations.

In December, police in Berlin conducted raids targeting members of Zora, a pro-Palestinian, left-wing feminist group. German security also banned the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in November.

Germany, the United States, the European Union, Israel and several Arab countries classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.  According to estimates by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV, some 450 people in Germany have been involved in Hamas. There is no official branch of the group in Germany.

ALSO READ-German right-wing extremist organisation disbanded

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German right-wing extremist organisation disbanded

In some federal states in eastern Germany, it has even been categorised as a “definitely” right-wing extremist….reports Asian Lite News

The ruling is a blow for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ahead of regional and European elections.

The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party lost a case in which it appealed against its classification as a suspected right-wing extremist party. 

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has considered the AfD to be a suspected right-wing extremist organisation since 2021.

In some federal states in eastern Germany, it has even been categorised as a “definitely” right-wing extremist.

At the federal level, the party has appealed against being labelled a suspected right-wing extremist organisation.

In 2022, the Administrative Court of Cologne ruled in favour of BfV, finding sufficient evidence of anti-constitutional tendencies within the AfD. This judgment has now been upheld by a court in Münster.

The court found that there was a sufficient legal basis for the designation, while stressing that the step doesn’t inevitably lead to the party being designated a proven case of right-wing extremism.

The AfD is grappling with multiple scandals, including a trial against member Bjorn Hoecke for deliberately using a Nazi slogan at a rally, and accusations of links to China after one of its members Maximillian Krah had his assistant arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

Kubitschek wrote that such an organisation no longer serves any purpose once it has lost its non-profit status for good.

According to the register of associations at the Stendal district court, the dissolution of the association was already decided in February and March this year. In his article, Kubitschek announced the founding of a new association, which will also run academies and organise conferences.

ALSO READ: Sunak accused of scaremongering over Gaza protest

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German FM Calls for Gaza Aid, Two-State Solution

Baerbock took part in a meeting of Arab and European foreign ministers in Riyadh, initiated by Saudi Arabia and Norway…reports Asian Lite News

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken out in favour of more humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip and a two-state solution, during the talks with counterparts from Western and Arab countries in Riyadh.

During the talks, Baerbock emphasised that an independent Palestine state as a part of a comprehensive peace process and a two-state solution remains a clear goal of German policy, according to reports from German delegation circles on Monday evening.

Baerbock took part in a meeting of Arab and European foreign ministers in Riyadh, initiated by Saudi Arabia and Norway, at which the prospect of a two-state solution and the recognition of Palestine was on the agenda.

A two-state solution foresees the peaceful co-existence of Israel and a Palestinian state based on the borders of the Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel since 1967 – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

However, Israel’s government rejects such a two-state solution outright, whereas, the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas has said it wants an independent Palestinian state but will not officially recognise the state of Israel.

Baerbock also made it clear “that there is now an urgent need for improved humanitarian access to Gaza and the release of the hostages,” it was reported after the talks.

She also held confidential talks with Arab and Western colleagues in Riyadh on the specific steps needed to end the fighting and find a sustainable solution to the conflict.

The ministers, including Baerbock’s US counterpart Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, met in Riyadh on the fringes of a two-day World Economic Forum (WEF) conference. Israel did not take part in the talks.

ALSO READ: US nudges Germany on long-range missiles for Ukraine

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Germany to send new frigate to protect ships in the Red Sea

The attacks on the vital trade route have been met with retaliatory strikes by US and British forces since January…reports Asian Lite News

Germany said on Saturday it will send a new frigate to the Red Sea in August to help secure maritime traffic, which has been disrupted for months due to Houthi attacks.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the “Hamburg” will replace the “Hessen,” which left the zone on Saturday. The “Hessen” had been deployed in the area on Feb. 23 as part of the EU’s “Aspides” mission to protect ships.

The statement said the “Hamburg” had escorted 27 merchant ships in the intervention zone and had, on four occasions, repulsed drone and missile attacks by the Houthis. It had around 240 military personnel on board.

The Houthis said on Thursday they had attacked almost 100 vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in months of strikes. They began attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in November, a campaign they say is intended as a show of support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The attacks on the vital trade route have been met with retaliatory strikes by US and British forces since January.

The US set up a multinational task force late last year to “protect” Red Sea shipping. Recent Houthi attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have also affected the global maritime transport chain.

Merchant ships and seafarers are increasingly in peril at sea as attacks escalate in the Middle East, the industry said in a letter released on Friday. It said the UN must do more to protect supply chains.

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the world’s leading shipping industry associations said Iran’s seizure on April 13 of the MSC Aries container ship 50 nautical miles off the UAE coast “once again highlighted the intolerable situation where shipping has become a target.” “Innocent seafarers have been killed. Seafarers are being held hostage,” the letter said. “The world would be outraged if four airliners were seized and held hostage with innocent souls onboard. Regrettably, there does not seem to be the same response or concern (for ships and their crew members).”

India’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that an Indian woman who was a mariner on the MSC Aries had returned to the country. It added that it was in touch with the other 16 Indian crew members still being held aboard the vessel.

The industry letter said: “Seafarers and the maritime sector are neutral and must not be politicized.” The letter added: “Given the continually evolving and severe threat profile within the area, we call on you for enhanced coordinated military presence, missions, and patrols in the region to protect our seafarers against any further possible aggression.”

Iran has also seized other vessels in international waters in recent years, heightening risks for merchant shipping in the area.

Ministers urge EU to ‘deepen’ ties to tackle migration roots

Ministers from five Mediterranean nations have urged the EU to “deepen” bilateral agreements with migrant countries of origin and increase funding to tackle the root causes of migration.

During the Gran Canaria Island meeting, ministers of interior and migration from the MED5 nations — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain — discussed the new migration and asylum pact adopted by the EU Parliament on April 11.

Years in the making, the deal involves a sweeping reform of the bloc’s asylum policies that will harden border procedures while forcing all 27 nations to share responsibility for migrant arrivals.

The reform was spurred by the massive influx of migrants in 2015, with its provisions taking effect in 2026. Hailing the pact as “historic,” Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said there was “still a long way to go” and that the solution lay in “prevention” and addressing the root causes of migration “at its source.”

“The key to migration management lies in bilateral cooperation,” he told a news conference, urging the European Commission “to deepen and broaden partnerships and agreements with third countries” to stem flows of irregular migrants.

“But we believe there is room for improvement, and the commitment should also focus on increasing European funds and flexible financing tools destined for such cooperation,” he said.

Under current EU rules, the arrival country bears responsibility for hosting and vetting asylum-seekers and returning those deemed inadmissible, which has put southern frontline states under huge pressure, fueling far-right opposition.

The new EU pact, which includes building border centers to hold asylum-seekers and sending some to outside “safe” countries, has been denounced by migrant charities and NGOs, with Amnesty International warning it would “lead to greater human suffering.”

In February, the UK Home Office has said that a record 290 people arrived in small boats in a single day, thus taking the migrant Channel crossings in the country to more than 2000 so far this year.

This is the highest single-day number recorded on February 25 after 358 people were recorded on January 17, The Evening Standard reported on Tuesday.

According to the figures published Monday, the migrants crossed in five boats with an estimated 58 people per boat.

Beginning this year, a union of Border Force officials in the UK warned that the number of people arriving in small boats is expected to rise again this year.

Last year, 29,437 migrants made the crossing, compared to 45,774 in 2022, according to figures from the UK Home Office, but the number was the second-highest since 2018 — about 1,000 above the total in 2021.

Migrants coming in small boats has been a major political issue in the UK with more than 45,000 migrants crossing the English Channel in that manner to reach the UK in 2022.

Ever since then, “stopping the boats” has been one of the top priorities of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government with the leader admitting that it is “not easy” to fix the problem overnight.

The government has also tried to send migrants to Rwanda following an agreement with the African country.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said last week that the country’s moves to facilitate the removal of asylum-seekers to Rwanda run contrary to the basic principles of the rule of law and risk delivering a serious blow to human rights.

ALSO READ-Germany to send new frigate to protect ships in the Red Sea

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European Leaders Engage in Urgent Diplomacy in Israel

The British Foreign Secretary said it was more important to concentrate on freeing the Israeli hostages, getting aid supplies…reports Asian Lite News

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron were in Israel on Wednesday for crisis diplomacy talks.

Cameron spoke in favour of a measured response by Israel to Iran’s recent attack.

He hopes the country responds “in a way that is smart, as well as tough, but it’s also does as little as possible to escalate this conflict”.

The British Foreign Secretary said it was more important to concentrate on freeing the Israeli hostages, getting aid supplies into the Gaza Strip and achieving a ceasefire there.

He added that he planned to discuss this with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

Baerbock and Cameron met Israeli President Isaac Herzog and planned to hold further talks with top Israeli officials in a separate but coordinated manner, according to the German Foreign Office.

Baerbock also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz during the visit, her seventh since the deadly October 7 attacks on Israel led by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

She is also set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Opposition leader Benny Gantz, who is a member of the Israeli war Cabinet, before leaving Israel later on Wednesday.

At the centre of the discussions is fears that the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip could erupt into a major regional war.

Iran launched significant air attacks on Israel last Saturday in response to a strike on the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

Israeli officials are now vowing a harsh counter-attack against Iran.

Israel’s allies worry such a response could fuel a spiral of violence and are urging restraint.

Baerbock is also likely to address the humanitarian situation of the suffering civilian population in Gaza. In recent weeks, she has repeatedly called on Israel to allow more aid deliveries to the Palestinian territory.

ALSO READ: Germany Summons Iran Ambassador Over Israel Attack

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Germany Summons Iran Ambassador Over Israel Attack

For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic, Iran directly launched an attack on its arch-enemy Israel on Saturday….reports Asian Lite News

The German Foreign Office has summoned Iran’s ambassador following Tehran’s attack on Israel, a spokesman said on Monday afternoon.

The conversation is currently taking place at the ministry, he said.

Iran had summoned the German ambassador to Tehran on Sunday, the spokesman in Berlin noted.

Iran had justified its summons with the “irresponsible positions” of Germany, as well as France and Britain, whose ambassadors had also been called in.

For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic, Iran directly launched an attack on its arch-enemy Israel on Saturday. Around 300 drones and missiles were fired, but almost all of them were intercepted by Israel and its allies.

Iran said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of high-ranking military officers at the Iranian embassy in Syria.

ALSO READ: Iran’s President Raisi Heads to Pakistan Amid Regional Tensions

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Germany denies accusations of aiding Gaza genocide

Germany and other Western nations have faced street protests, various legal cases, and accusations of hypocrisy from campaign groups who say Israel has killed too many Palestinian civilians in its six-month military assault…reports Asian Lite News

Germany denied accusations on Tuesday that it was aiding genocide in Gaza by selling Israel arms in a suit to the top U.N. court by Nicaragua reflecting mounting legal action in support of Palestinians.

Germany has been one of Israel’s staunchest allies since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants and retaliatory offensive. It is one of its biggest arms suppliers, sending 326.5 million euros ($353.70 million) in military equipment and weapons in 2023, according to Economy Ministry data.

Germany and other Western nations have faced street protests, various legal cases, and accusations of hypocrisy from campaign groups who say Israel has killed too many Palestinian civilians in its six-month military assault.

But Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, legal adviser for the German Foreign Ministry, told the International Court of Justice judges that Nicaragua’s case was rushed, based on flimsy evidence and should be thrown out due to lack of jurisdiction.

German arms exports were scrutinised to ensure adherence to international law, she said.

“Germany is doing its utmost to live up to its responsibility vis-a-vis both the Israeli and the Palestinian people,” she added, with Germany the largest individual donor of humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

Von Uslar-Gleichen said Israel’s security was a priority for Germany because of the history of the Nazi decimation of Jews in the Holocaust. “Germany has learned from its past, a past that includes the responsibility for one of the most horrific crimes in human history, the Shoah,” she said, using the Hebrew word.

A lawyer for Germany, Christian Tams, told the court that since Oct. 7, 98% of arms exports to Israel were general equipment like vests, helmets and binoculars. And of four cases where war weapons exports were approved, he said, three concerned arms unsuitable for use in combat and were instead meant for use in training exercises.

On Monday, lawyers for Nicaragua had asked the ICJ, or World Court, to order Germany to halt arms sales to Israel and resume funding of U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

They argued Berlin has violated the 1948 Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law by continuing to supply Israel while aware there was a risk of genocide.

Israel says its war is against murderous Hamas militants, not Palestinian civilians, and that it is the victim of smear.

The Islamist group’s Oct. 7 attacks killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s Gaza offensive since then, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.

The ICJ is expected to issue provisional measures on Nicaragua’s case in weeks, but a final ruling could take years and the court has no power to enforce it.

In January, in response to an accusation from South Africa, the ICJ ruled that claims Israel violated some rights guaranteed under the genocide convention were plausible and called for a halt to halt any potential acts of genocide.

ALSO READ-Nicaragua-Germany Gaza case before ICJ

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German envoy to UK not sorry for leaked call

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly ruled out sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine. Berger said Scholz was being careful about how to increase support to Ukraine, so as not to cause “consequences we all don’t want to see”…reports Asian Lite News

The German ambassador to the UK has said there is “no need to apologise” for security breaches which led to a call between top army officials being leaked by Russian sources.

Miguel Berger told BBC one of the participants had likely dialled in via an insecure line. As a result, Russia was able to intercept the call, he said.

In the audio, officials can be heard discussing details of alleged British operations on the ground in Ukraine. Berger hit back at criticism by former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who said Germany was “pretty penetrated by Russian intelligence” and “neither secure nor reliable”.

“It is extremely unhelpful what Ben Wallace has done. This is what Russia wants,” Berger said.

Berger also said German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius had called allies to explain Berlin’s position over the leak. He said preliminary results of an investigation by military intelligence showed that the leak was down to “an individual mistake by one of the officers”.

The call had been intercepted because one of the participants had connected in an insecure way, he said. “I think that is a good lesson for everybody: never use hotel internet if you want to do a secure call,” Berger advised listeners of the Today programme.

In the leaked recording, four senior German military officers are seemingly heard discussing the prospect of Ukraine using German-made Taurus cruise missiles to hit the Kerch Bridge, which links Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which was illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly ruled out sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine. Berger said Scholz was being careful about how to increase support to Ukraine, so as not to cause “consequences we all don’t want to see”.

If Germany were to provide Taurus missiles to Ukraine it would create “potential for escalation”, he said. The missiles have a range of around 500km (300 miles) – enough to potentially hit Russian territory.

Ambassador Berger said allies’ focus needed to be on supplying enough ammunition to Ukraine. Kyiv has said it is losing ground to Russian forces in part because of diminishing ammunition supplies.

ALSO READ-Sheikh Abdullah Visits Germany, Meets Top Officials

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Joint Indo-Pacific Drills, Bilateral Security Top Indo-German Talks

Aramane and Zimmer also emphasised the need for a closer defence partnership and connecting the defence industries from both sides together….reports Asian Lite News

A range of bilateral security and defence issues, including joint exercises in the Indo-Pacific, came up for discussion during India-Germany High Defence Committee (HDC) meeting in Berlin.

Indian Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane co-chaired the meeting in Berlin on Tuesday with Benedikt Zimmer, State Secretary, German Ministry of Defence, with a focus on developing defence cooperation as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between the two nations.

“They exchanged views on the regional security situation, discussed likely joint exercises with Germany in the Indo-Pacific, and deliberated on potential defence industrial projects and proposals,” the Ministry of Defence said in a release on Wednesday.

Aramane and Zimmer also emphasised the need for a closer defence partnership and connecting the defence industries from both sides together.

“Of particular focus was the collaboration in high technology in defence,” it said.

Aramane also interacted with the German Institute of International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – SWP), a prominent think tank in Berlin.

The conduct of the HDC meeting follows the four-day visit of German Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius to India in June 2023 where he held a bilateral meeting with Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.

Both Ministers reviewed the ongoing bilateral defence cooperation activities and explored ways to enhance the collaboration, particularly defence industrial partnership.

Singh then highlighted the opportunities in the defence production sector, including the possibilities for German investments in the two Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

India and Germany have had the HDC meeting since 2006, which takes place annually, alternately in New Delhi and Berlin.

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Sheikh Abdullah Visits Germany, Meets Top Officials

Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has paid a working visit to Germany. This comes within the framework of the keenness to strengthen the relations of friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and the Germany, in addition to discussing a number of files of common interest and the latest developments in the Middle East, as well as all regional and international developments.

Sheikh Abdullah met with Jens Plötner, Foreign and Security Policy Advisor to the German Federal Chancellor, and a delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag), headed by Michael Roth, Chairman of the Committee.

The two meetings discussed the friendship relations and comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and Germany, and ways to develop areas of bilateral cooperation to serve the common interests of the two countries and their peoples.

Sheikh Abdullah also reviewed with Jens Plötner and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Parliament the paths of cooperation and the available opportunities to enhance it in several sectors, expressing his pride in the distinguished UAE-German friendship relations.

He also discussed with Annalena Baerbock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, the cooperation relations and comprehensive strategic partnership and ways to develop them to support the development goals of the two countries. The two sides also discussed aspects of enhancing the frameworks of bilateral cooperation in a number of fields.

Sheikh Abdullah expressed his happiness at his visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, stressing that the two countries are linked by strong and developed relations based on the foundations of understanding, cooperation, mutual respect and common interests.

He pointed out that the UAE-German comprehensive strategic partnership embodies the depth and strength of this relationship and the continuous keenness to deepen and develop the frameworks of joint cooperation to support their development plans.

Sheikh Abdullah, Jens Plötner, Annalena Baerbock, and the delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag headed by Chairman Michael Roth, also discussed the current developments in the region, foremost of which is the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its surroundings and its security and humanitarian repercussions.

During the meetings, the UAE Foreign Minister underscored the importance of strengthening regional and international efforts to reach a sustainable ceasefire and provide an urgent humanitarian response to the needs of the Palestinian people.

He affirmed that the current crisis in the region requires strengthening multilateral work to address its repercussions, pointing out that the UAE is committed to cooperating with all active parties in the international community to end extremism, tension and escalating violence in the region and provide protection for all civilians.

He also stressed the need to avoid escalating the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the importance of combining efforts to enhance the global response to the humanitarian conditions suffered by the Palestinian people, and work to secure sufficient relief and medical aid to meet their needs and alleviate their suffering.

Abdullah renewed his emphasis on the importance of finding a stern political solution to resume negotiations with the aim of achieving comprehensive peace based on the “two-state solution”, stressing that the peoples of the region are looking forward to security, stability, development and prosperity.

Within the framework of the working visit, Abdullah met with Dr. Robert Habeck, Vice-Chancellor and German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, where the two sides reviewed the economic relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them within the framework of the UAE-German comprehensive strategic partnership.

Sheikh Abdullah also met with a number of German businessmen and CEOs of German companies, and discussed with them aspects of cooperation in the fields of economy and the environment, which offer attractive opportunities for establishing investment partnerships that support development plans and programmes in both countries.

In addition, he hosted a reception for Emirati students studying in the Federal Republic of Germany, a number of Emiratis who are receiving treatment in Germany, as well as several Germans who have lived in the UAE.

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