UN peacekeepers taken hostage in Syria

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Syrian rebels fighting in the Golan Heights have taken 21 hostages, United Nations peacekeeping unit whose convoy was stopped and held at a checkpoint, according to the Filipino government and the UN  in New York. A week earlier a soldier from the Undof (UN Disengagement Observer Force) peacekeepers went missing in the […]

Israel, Switzerland sign defense relations deal to keep status quo

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland and Israel will continue bilateral talks and cooperation, without expanding areas of cooperation, Bern said in a statement Thursday 24 January. Swiss President Ueli Maurer and Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak signed a declaration of intent Thursday in Davos, where both are attending the World Economic Forum. “The declaration of […]

New centrist party forces Netanyahu to broaden coalition

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The right/religious block that has dominated the coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu has a new player to contend with, after elections handed 19 seats to the year-old Yesh Atid party under former television star Yair Lapid. The party, reports the Guardian, “concentrated its election campaign on socio-economic issues and removing the exemption […]

Bicycles on the brain and in the news

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -  (and the EU, Israel, Malaysia, UK, US, Zambia) Following last week’s snow dumping and recovering from a vicious chest cold, I took a “virtual” bike tour of the web to air out my brain and found a few gems worth mentioning. Who would’ve thunk Top Gear’s James May was a bikers best […]

Switzerland backs Palestine’s demand to change UN status (update)

BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Federal Council says the government will vote in favour of Palestine becoming an observer state, from its current status as a non-state observer at the United Nations. The 93-member UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote Thursday 29 November. There are  no vetoes, as in the Security Council. France announced […]

Israeli defense minister retiring from politics

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, says he is retiring from political life, a decision he made some time ago but put off announcing because of Operation Pillar of Defense”, Israel’s name for its attacks on the Gaza Strip earlier this month. Barak told journalists at a press conference Monday 26 November that […]

Gaza Strip: ceasefire

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A Gaza Strip ceasefire was declared Wednesday 21 November in Cairo, Egypt, and took effect at 21:00. It was signed by Palestine and Israel in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. The halt to the fighting comes after eight days of rocket and […]

Israel, Palestine meet in Cairo, Ban Ki-moon to join talks

Building housing international media hit by Israeli missiles twice in two days GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – One man, described by Israeli media as “an Islamic Jihad terrorist” died when a tower building that houses a number of international media, including Sky News, was hit by Israeli missiles. Sky News in its live coverage blog reports that […]

Gaza City pounded by Israel, 22 dead in week’s fighting

Israel reports heavy Hamas shelling despite Egyptian leader’s visit and three-hour ceasefire GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – At least 17 people died during the night of 15-16 November in Gaza City when Israel sent over 100 missiles into the area. It is withholding fire according to the Jerusalem Post, during a three-hour visit to Gaza by Egyptian […]

Abbas visit to Bern: Swiss want to see final text of UN proposal

BERN, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland will wait to see the final text of Palestine’s application to be raised to the status of a UN observer State, in particular to see how it conforms to international law, Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said Thursday 15 November. His comments came at the end of a “working visit” to Bern […]