Illegal Israeli settlements inflame Palestine:Brexit stalls as May stumped by Parliament | Sunday Observer

Illegal Israeli settlements inflame Palestine:Brexit stalls as May stumped by Parliament

Will the United Kingdom actually withdraw from the European Union or will the whole enterprise collapse due to political betrayals and power opportunism within the ruling Conservative Party? Even as Prime Minister Theresa May fights her own Parliament over this pivotal geo-strategic issue, Israeli army raids in Palestine’s tiny West Bank region resulted in four deaths and the arrests of over fifty Palestinians on ‘terrorism’ charges.

Legally besieged US President Donald Trump’s political future got bleaker last week after his long serving legal aide and ‘fixer’ was jailed for election related crimes, and continued to inform prosecutors about Trump’s role in these crimes. And, in Sweden, the rival Yemeni political movements say they have agreed on a ceasefire and an exchange of up to 18,000 detainees and prisoners-of-war.

UK Premier Theresa May last week gamely fought off a no-confidence vote within her Conservative Party parliamentary group but had to postpone the actual vote on the UK-EU Brexit deal for this week because she knew it would not get enough votes to pass. The ‘Brexit’ (short for “Britain’s exit” from the EU) package that May had negotiated with Brussels still faces obstacles in Westminster, given that nearly a third of her own MPs may vote against it and the entire Opposition will also vote ‘Nay’.

May did a snap visit to Brussels and got more assurances of full implementation of the package from the EU political leadership, and she hopes that this will be enough to persuade her own party and also the smaller Northern Irish allies as well as the Liberal Democrats, to support the package. It is possible that the vote could get postponed again until January.

If the Brexit package fails to pass through Parliament, then May faces two unsavoury options, both likely to ensure her party’s defeat in future General Elections. Option ‘A’ is to allow the UK withdrawal to occur at the scheduled date next March, without any negotiated arrangements.

This, of course will be hated by big Business interests, particularly because they are the ones to lose most and lose immediately. In fact they are already losing as businesses begin anticipating such a break-away and halt investments and budget for costly high import and export tariffs and a myriad of Non-tariff barriers like tough EU Quality Controls and import quotas.

Small businesses, many of whom unthinkingly and chauvinistically voted for Brexit, will also face things such as higher labour costs as East European migration declines, in addition to trade barriers. Expatriates who now get lucrative short term jobs on the Continent also stand to lose. Of course, more of them will simply turn to North America and the Persian Gulf. The Gulf will pay more and will be luxurious in some ways but will be ‘dry’ – no greenery and no alcohol!

If the Conservative government is forced to take the un-negotiated exit option, then it could lose votes and may even lose the next election due to perceptions by the not-so-intelligent vote banks (most of whom support Brexit but simply cannot understand the negative outcome) that the Conservatives failed in their handling of the withdrawal from the EU.

Plan ‘B’ for the UK is the obvious one that all anti-Brexiteers have been calling for – to hold another Referendum on the subject in the hope that this time around, common sense and not emotion will prevail, and the popular vote will be for ‘Remain’. There is some evidence in recent opinion polls that, after this experience of prospective economic difficulties arising from Brexit, the ‘Remain’ vote may edge out the ‘Exit’ vote.

But incumbent Conservative MPs, all of whom have large pro-Brexit vote banks, fear to face the wrath of such unthinking voters and lose their parliamentary seats to newcomers who would claim that the incumbents simply failed to get a good deal from Brussels. For the Conservatives a second referendum is seen as suicidal.

Interestingly, it is a similarly ‘un-intelligent’ vote bank problem that the US’ ruling Republican Party faces when they contemplate giving up on an increasingly obvious law-breaker President who may also prove to be a traitor who secretly favours America’s long-time ‘enemy’, Russia, over National Interests. Worse, President Trump also seems to favour a Saudi Arabian Princeling now known more for gory repressive antics than for any glamorous luxury lifestyle.

Last week, perhaps to balance their own political reputations as foreign policy-makers, the Senate Republicans joined the minority Democrats in passing a resolution and foreign relations document laying down new, sterner approaches to Saudi Arabia, America’s staunchest Arab ally. The Senate resolution, which needs to be signed by the President, formally labels Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (‘MBS’) as the ultimate culprit in the macabre assassination of Saudi Arabian dissident publisher Jamal Khashoggi. The resolution also maps out a set of punishments for the Saudis that aims at pushing Riyadh to replace MBS as their Crown Prince and future ruler.

But Donald Trump continues to insist on supporting the Crown Prince specifically - for unsavoury (and possibly illegal) reasons, unlike the UK Conservative Party’s genuinely democratic political concerns. Even as Trump entered the White House, reports were emerging about his family’s close business contacts with MBS himself and other Saudi Royals and their business conglomerates. And literally within weeks, Trump family members were seen jetting into Riyadh for cosy chats with MBS and his cronies. MBS himself was reportedly boasting that he had Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner “in his pocket”. All this is highly embarrassing for the Republicans (and the American elite in general) with their snooty attitude toward the tyrannical Saudis.

But the Republicans may soon have less say about Trump’s future when the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January (following their newly won electoral majority) and begin more systematic and hostile probes into the wide range of controversies surrounding the Republican President. If, as promised, the Democrats are able to fully expose Trump’s many suspected misdeeds from sleazy, illicit sex and illegal cover-ups to conspiring with the country’s most dangerous rival State (Russia), then the Republicans are likely to at least, ditch Trump at the next Presidential polls.

Last week Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen was finally sentenced to three years’ jail on charges of breaking election campaign laws, lying about it to the investigating police and tax fraud. The sentence is a reduced one because Cohen has revealed much to the FBI special probe and has promised to reveal more about Trump’s own role in all these crimes. Last week it was reported that Cohen has told the FBI that Trump knew he was violating laws when he planned the cash bribes to his former lovers in order to hide his illicit sex adventures while campaigning for the US presidency.

In Palestine last week the West Bank boiled over after a shooting incident near an illegal Israeli settlement in which two Israeli police men died. Since the Hamas militant group (elected government of the Gaza Strip) quickly hailed the shooting while not claiming credit for it, Israeli forces promptly carried out several raids into the West Bank and after killing four people, including one 17-year-old, ‘arrested’ some 56 Palestinians on ‘terrorism’ charges.

As ‘Al Jazeera’ reported

A Hamas official in the occupied West Bank says Israeli forces have arrested dozens of Hamas supporters, including legislators, in overnight raids. Palestinian media also reported on Friday that scores of Palestinians, including two legislators, have been arrested across the West Bank in overnight raids.

The Israeli military said it arrested 40 people and alleged 37 of them are linked to Hamas.

The arrests come as four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in separate operations over the past 24 hours, with the Israeli army declaring the city of Ramallah a closed military zone, as it carried out searches around the roads surrounding the city.

The closure was announced following a shooting attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra east of Ramallah. Two Israeli soldiers were killed by an unknown Palestinian.

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