Rosemary DiCarlo was briefing the UN Security Council on the latest situation in the Middle East and said hopes for two States living side by side in peace, “continue to be replaced by the rising fears of future annexation. The possibility of establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian State continues to be eroded by facts on the ground.”The UN had “repeatedly warned that the conflict cannot be managed in perpetuity”, she said, adding that without any change in approach, there would only be more deterioration, “radicalization on all sides, more suffering and conflict.”The political and peacebuilding chief told Council members that Israeli settlements continue to expand, despite having “no legal effect” and constituting a “violation of international law”.In a continuing cycle of violence, Ms. DiCarlo noted that out of seven Palestinians overall, four children had been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces in the first quarter of the year, with 1,316 injured during ongoing protests, centred around the border fence. She condemned violence on both sides, and reminded Israel lethal force could only be used “in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury as a last resort.”Gaza crisis deepens, while needs riseThe DPPA chief said that was making “important progress” in implementing a programme of humanitarian aid and economic support to stabilize the situation in the Gaza Strip, which continues to be blockaded by Israel, and subject to intra-Palestinian strife, between the extremists of Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah faction.“As we consistently reiterate, at its core the crisis in Gaza is political”, she said. “Significant progress on the lifting of the closures and advancing intra-Palestinian reconciliation remain essential.”She said over the past year, $110 million had been raised for fuel, health, water, sanitation and job programmes in Gaza, while $4.6 million had been put aside since September to help delivery essential medications and support some 9,500 surgeries.Five tunnels under ‘Blue Line’Turning to the border demarcation between southern Lebanon and northern Israel, or “Blue Line”, Ms. DiCarlo said the situation was calm, although the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, has now confirmed the existence of five tunnels which have been dug under the border, “three of which it has confirmed cross the Blue Line, and constitute a violation of resolution 1701”, said Ms. DiCarlo.As we mobilize in each crisis to address the critical needs of the Palestinian population, be it in Gaza or the West Bank,” she concluded, “we shall not lose sight of the core political issue, namely the prospect of two peaceful and secure states living side by side in harmony.“This imperative compels us all to work with the parties, bring them back to the negotiation table and urge them to avoid unilateral actions that undermine the prospect for peace” she added. “Only determined action by the parties themselves can salvage the two-State solution.”
New Delhi/Berne: Amid a continuing crackdown on Swiss bank account holders with suspected illicit money, Switzerland has stepped up its process to share details of such individuals with Potluri Rajamohan Rao being the latest Indian national to get a notice in this regard. At least 14 Indians, with accounts in Switzerland-based banks, were issued notices by the Swiss authorities last month, in which they have been given one last chance to appeal against sharing of their details with India. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoCAccording to officials, many more such notices are in the offing in the coming weeks as India has sought details about a large number of Indian clients of Swiss banks who are suspected to have indulged in illicit financial activities. The latest such notice was issued to one Potluri Rajamohan Rao on May 28, asking him to file an appeal, if any, within ten days in connection with the ‘administrative assistance’ sought by the Indian authorities. In the preceding week, at least 11 such notices were issued on a single day, May 21, to various Indian clients of the Swiss banks, as per the Swiss government gazette notifications. Also Read – Two squadrons which participated in Balakot airstrike awarded citationsSwitzerland has been striving hard to re-establish its global financial centre position after clamping down on secrecy walls of its banks and there has been a significant surge in the number of cases where it has initiated process to share information on Indians with Swiss bank accounts. Except for his date of birth (July 15, 1951) and his Indian residency, the notification issued by the Federal Tax Administration, Switzerland, did not disclose any further details of Rao. However, officials said Rao has been associated with various businesses in southern states of India, including in the telecom business. An analysis of the notifications issued by the FTA, the nodal department for sharing of information on foreign clients of Swiss banks, shows that the Swiss government has stepped up its efforts in sharing such details with a number of countries in the recent months, but the surge in India-related cases is noticeable in the past few weeks. However, the gazette notifications of the Swiss government has redacted full names for several of them while making public only their initials besides the nationality and the dates of birth. The Indians whose names have been mentioned in full also included Krishna Bhagwan Ramchand, Kalpesh Harshad Kinariwala, Ratan Singh Chowdhury, Kuldip Singh Dhingra and Anil Bhardwaj. However, no further details have been disclosed about them as well. In these notices, the individuals or their authorised representatives have been asked to file their appeals, if any, within 30 days (10 days in some cases) with necessary documentary proof to support their case against providing ‘administrative assistance’ to India, which broadly means sharing of `their banking and other financial details. Several of these names are said to have figured in the leaked HSBC lists and Panama papers which allegedly contained names of Indians with Swiss bank accounts and are being probed by Indian authorities in alleged black money cases. While some notices were issued in April also, Switzerland had issued such notices in March to Mumbai-based Geodesic Ltd and its three directors (Prashant Sharad Mulekar, Pankajkumar Onkar Srivastava and Kiran Kulkarni), as also to Chennai-based Aadhi Enterprises Pvt Ltd, who are being probed by the Indian authorities for alleged money laundering and other financial irregularities. Switzerland was widely known as an alleged safe haven for black money before it bowed down before the global pressure and agreed to bring down the famed secrecy walls that had historically surrounded the Swiss banks, provided the requesting country gave proof for financial irregularities done by the concerned person or the company. Along with several other countries, India has also been making use of this change in the stance of Switzerland by seeking details of suspected black money hoarders in Swiss banks and it has already got back information in a large number of cases in the last few years. While the Swiss government documents did not disclose specific details related to the information and assistance sought by the Indian authorities regarding these Indian companies and individuals, such an ‘administrative assistance’ follows submission of proof about financial and tax-related wrongdoings and typically involves sharing of information relating to bank account details and other financial data. While Switzerland has always denied being a safe haven for black money, it has begun sharing details for last few years with several countries including India after submission of evidence about financial and tax-related wrongdoings of the clients of Swiss banks.