Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Why Palestinians care what Donald Trump thinks about Jerusalem

June 3, 2018

Israelis appreciated but mostly shrugged at last month’s US Embassy move, but Palestinians exploded in fury. The gap reveals much about their predicament

June 3, 2018
Palestinians prepare to set fire to an Israeli flag and portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, April 13, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Palestinians prepare to set fire to an Israeli flag and portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, April 13, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The US Embassy has moved. With the exception of the effect the move purportedly had on the ailing health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and acknowledging Palestinian claims that the violence on the Gaza border was mostly due to the American recognition of Jerusalem, or at least its western half, as Israel’s capital, this latest round of Jewish-Arab scuffling seems to have died down.

That doesn’t mean Israeli-Palestinian tensions have decreased, of course. A confluence of powerful moments on the Palestinian calendar — the embassy move on May 14; the recurring Gaza protests launched by Hamas from March 30 until mid-May; Nakba Day on May 15, mourning the displacement of the Palestinians upon Israel’s founding; the May 17 start of the holy month of Ramadan; and even the upcoming Naksa Day on June 5, which mourns the Israeli victory in the 1967 Six Day War — coupled with Hamas’s fraught political position in Gaza have all pushed the sides to new rounds of violence, and may do so again at any time.

But it wasn’t just the calendar. Israelis and Palestinians remain strangers to each other despite living such close and intertwined lives. Each has only a sketchy, piecemeal grasp of what motivates and frightens the other across the ethnic and religious divide.

This gap in comprehension was the reason many Israelis were surprised by the frantic Palestinian response to the American embassy’s opening in Jerusalem. Most Israeli Jews certainly appreciated the gesture, but did not seem to take part in the gushing platitudes of politicians about its unique strategic or “historic” significance.

 Palestinian protesters gather in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian “protester” on the Gaza side of Israel’s border fence

The Palestinians disagreed. Political factions vied with one another in their expressions of rage over the American move. The Palestinian Authority declared a school strikeurged mass protests across the West Bank and Gaza, cut direct talks with the Trump administration and announced the US had forsaken its role as a peace broker in the region. Protests mounted in the West Bank and Hamas announced its seven-week-long campaign of border rallies in Gaza.

In the process, Palestinian rhetoric shed light on how they view their strategic position, and how their current strategy is failing them.

The Palestinian resort to internationalizing the conflict — the appeal to international institutions, the BDS campaign, and the like — is rooted in the deepest anxieties of Palestinian nationalism. The only real alternative to internationalization (besides terrorism, of course, which vanishingly few Palestinians still view as a winning strategy) is to meaningfully engage with Israel and Israelis, a step too ideologically and politically painful for any major Palestinian faction to contemplate seriously. (Some factions will agree to negotiate with Israeli officials; none with any following will agree to push for engagement or coexistence with Israeli Jewish society.)

Then, too, there is the fact that the appeal to the world’s conscience fits the Palestinian meta-narrative of dispossession. In the telling of the Palestinian national movement, the injustice of Palestinian displacement is larger than the narrow question of Palestinian suffering; it violates history’s deepest logic and purpose, its moral arc. A strategy premised on the existence and political potency of an amorphous moral conscience capable of mobilizing a broader humanity to act in the Palestinians’ favor validates this narrative of lost-but-inevitably-to-be-reclaimed justice. It makes the insistence that an idealized pre-Israeli condition can yet be restored a little less ludicrous and a little more believable.

There is a risk, however, to this reliance on the world’s moral emotions. An indelicate framing of the question might be: What if the international community does not in any meaningful sense exist? What if there are very few nations (even among Arab states) that would risk hard interests in the name of an idealistic call for justice, especially when that call is so hard to apply to the messy conditions of this conflict? Even the Palestinians’ most vocal allies — Turkey, for example — see in the Palestinian cause not a fight for the well-being of Palestinians, but a politically convenient battlefield on which to pursue their own broader ideological battle over the future of Islam and their place in global affairs. It doesn’t help, of course, that the half of Palestinian politics represented by Hamas actively pursues a politics of violence that makes it all the harder for foreign players to act in defense of the Palestinians.

As they discovered yet again with the US Embassy’s move to Jerusalem on May 14, there are costs to the overreliance on the politics of foreign nations: it leaves you vulnerable when those politics change.

Lacking any other strategic horizon, it’s no wonder Palestine’s cause seemed to many Palestinians to be dramatically set back by the election of a populist American right-winger as president.

The point here is not to argue that Trump is actually bad for the Palestinians, at least in the sense that another American president might be better. It’s arguable that a Hillary Clinton presidency, or even a Bernie Sanders one and its undoubted sympathy for the Palestinians, would not really tilt events very much in the Palestinians’ direction. Palestine’s troubles run deep, and Palestinian leaders have a long history of squandering foreign sympathy. The point here is only to say that many Palestinians believe their cause has been dramatically set back by Trump’s rise.

And so Palestinians exploded over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, which suddenly and viscerally clarified the extent to which their long-established strategic truths offer exceedingly few good answers in this ever-changing world.



A President Clinton would have made things much worse

May 27, 2018

To put the roller-coaster presidency of Donald Trump in perspective, it helps on occasion to imagine that Hillary Clinton won the election. My experience is that the exercise leads to greater appreciation of the president we have, warts and all.

Start with Clinton herself. She has spent the last 18 months in a perpetual snit. “No, I’m not over it,” she confessed while turning Yale’s commencement into a self-pity party.

Anyone who has dealt with her knows the “I’m a victim” schtick didn’t start with November of 2016, and would not have ended if she won. She’s been a blamer and finger-pointer her entire public life and would have taken her woe-is-me attitude to the Oval Office.

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post
May 26, 2018

Coupled with her breathtaking sense of entitlement, it is hard to see her presidency lifting the nation’s self-confidence, at home or abroad.

In economic terms, how much higher would unemployment be? How about the stock market and median family incomes — how much lower would they be?

Remember, Clinton promised — promised! — to put coal miners out of work. That’s a promise she probably would have kept.

She wanted to raise taxes instead of cutting them and loosen already lax immigration policies instead of tightening them.

She was part of President Obama’s team that tried to force Israel to make concessions its leaders believed were dangerous to the Jewish state’s security. It’s a cinch the US embassy still would be in Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem and Palestinians would have kept a veto over our policy.

The Iran deal would be unmolested by a Clinton presidency, leaving the mullahs free to be ever more aggressive in their pursuit of regional power.

It’s true a President Clinton would be more popular in Western Europe than Trump is, but that’s because there would be no America First agenda. Allowing Europe to call the global shots would make appeasement the default position.

Then there are the aggressions of China and North Korea. Breathes there a soul who believes Clinton would have pushed back harder than Trump?

Of course, Stormy Daniels wouldn’t be famous, but perhaps Clinton’s friend and donor Harvey Weinstein would still be on the prowl and the #MeToo movement would not exist.

Among other consequences, consider the extraordinary political and legal aftermath of the election, ranging from the resistance to Robert Mueller’s investigation to the emerging evidence that the FBI and CIA conspired to spy on the Trump campaign.

My first impulse is to assume Clinton would have fired FBI boss James Comey faster than Trump did. Then I wonder because of what Comey had on her.

It’s not just that he let her skip on having classified emails on her homebrew server. There were also the aborted FBI probes into the pay-to-play evidence involving the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s enormous speaking fees while Hillary was Secretary of State. Somewhere, Comey surely has a secret file on Clinton’s legal and political vulnerabilities.

Suppose then, in true J. Edgar Hoover fashion, Comey signaled he would spill the beans if he lost his job. It’s legal blackmail, and it’s possible that’s what Comey tried to do with Trump by telling him about the Russian dossier — using unverified allegations as personal leverage.

A victorious Clinton would have remained furious at Comey for re-opening the email investigation in October. But, having realized her dream of sitting in the Oval Office, her anger could have been reduced to a footnote and she might have decided she was best served by letting Comey keep his job — and his secrets.

Of all the possible scenarios, there is one about which we can be certain: a Clinton victory would have kept the public from learning about the Obama administration’s extensive abuse of its powers to help her.

Her victory would mean Stefan HalperCarter Page and George Papadopoulos would remain anonymous private citizens, and key players involved in the scheme would still have their reputations intact.

Loretta Lynch, for helping to minimize the various probes, might be Clinton’s Attorney General. John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice and Samantha Power might have important government jobs instead of having to fight to keep their dirty tricks buried.

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Mueller would be in private law practice, the highlight of his bio being that he was the longest-serving FBI director since Hoover. Instead, his legacy is now tied to his drawn-out investigation of the president that is falling out of public favor.

As for Trump, a Clinton victory would have been devastating, but he probably would have started a new media company and created his own form of a resistance. Given his Midas touch, a loss could have been the most profitable deal of his life.

But fate and voters had other ideas, and the truly remarkable fact is that Trump’s stunning Electoral College victory came despite the alliance of the White House, law enforcement, the intelligence agencies and the media against him.

In coming days, we will learn more about that squalid alliance, giving us more reason to marvel at the resiliency of our republic. And even when it looks as if Trump is running off the rails, consider the alternative and remember this: It could have been worse. Much worse.

Turkey will not give up Jerusalem: Erdoğan

May 22, 2018


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 21 expressed Turkey’s resolve to not give up on Jerusalem.

“We are determined to not give up on our rights on Jerusalem. We will never leave our first qiblah [direction towards which Muslims pray] to the mercy of a state which has been feeding on blood, tears and occupation for decades,” Erdoğan said during an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner with ambassadors in the capital Ankara.

“We will continue our fight until Jerusalem becomes a home of peace, tranquility and dignity for all three monotheistic religions,” he said.

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About the U.S. move to shift its embassy to Jerusalem, the president said the hands of the U.S. are “covered in the blood of Palestinian children.”

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency

U.S. President Donald Trump sparked an international outcry last December when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowed to relocate Washington’s embassy to the city.

The embassy was officially relocated May 14, prompting thousands of Palestinians to stage demonstrations near the security fence separating Gaza from Israel.

Scores of Palestinians were killed — and hundreds more injured — when Israeli troops responded to the demonstrations with heavy gunfire.

“The American administration no longer has the right to talk on human rights, democracy and peace anymore,” he added.

Referring to the current regional tensions, Erdoğan pointed out that diplomacy as a means of solving crises has been eroding.

Nuclear weapons

About nuclear energy, Erdoğan said Turkey is of the opinion that nuclear energy should be used for peaceful purposes.

“The main threats against our country and region are nuclear weapons,” he said.

He called for clearing the whole world of nuclear weapons.

“Those with at least 15,000 nuclear warheads now threaten the world,” he added.

Speaking at the same event, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım vowed Turkey’s continued support to people in need around the world.

“It is time to act jointly against global problems such as terrorism, hatred, injustice, migration, discrimination and hunger. Turkey has been advocating this for a long time,” he said.

On Israel’s attacks against Gaza, Yıldırım said “the slaughter of the defenseless, unarmed people is cruel and brutal violence.”

“The decision of the American administration to move the embassy to Jerusalem is a big mistake and it has a great share in the escalation of tensions of these events [in Gaza],” he added.

Addressing ambassadors of different countries, Yıldırım said it is time to take a stance over the current situation in the region.

Israel not invited

In a statement, the presidency said the ambassadors of all countries, except Israel, were invited to the iftar at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) headquarters.

Israeli ambassador in Ankara Eitan Naeh left Turkey on May 16 at Turkey’s request following indiscriminate violence and killings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza-Israel fence.

On May 14, at least 65 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire during protests in eastern Gaza. Thousands more were injured.

Gaza treated with contempt by international community

May 21, 2018

What chance Israeli authorities will ever be held accountable for the killings in Gaza? Will there be a proper, independent investigation of what has transpired since March 30, with Israeli soldiers killing 104 Palestinians and injuring 12,600, many with live fire? One Israeli soldier was injured by a stone, but no doubt accountability was already dished out to the perpetrator with a bullet. We may never know.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech on the first Friday of the  Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 18, 2018, at al-Omary mosque in Gaza City. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 18, 2018, at al-Omary mosque in Gaza City. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

By Chris Doyle
Arab News

Let us start with a credit card. The theft of a cheap, lousy piece of plastic and its use to withdraw $398 was the sole crime the Israeli authorities admitted to during the entire 22 days of the 2008-2009 war on Gaza. The soldier was sentenced to seven-and-a-half months in a military jail. Israeli forces killed 1,383 Palestinians, more than 80 percent of whom were civilians, schools and hospitals were bombed, and white phosphorous was used, but somehow the only crime Israel admitted was petty theft.

Protesters in Gaza running (Reuters/I. Abu Mustafa)

Stealing money from Palestinians seems to be of greater concern than killing them. One Israeli soldier shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem and he got just a nine-month jail sentence. He did have to pay $14,000 damages to the family. Elor Azaria, who shot a Palestinian in cold blood as he lay on the ground in Hebron, must feel hard done by as he got a sentence, albeit curiously for manslaughter not murder, of 18 months, which was later reduced to 14 and he was released after nine. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not alone in Israel in demanding that Azaria got a full pardon, reflecting the soldier’s near-hero status.

For comparison’s sake, slapping an Israeli soldier — that is, if you are born a Palestinian and are a child — merits eight months in prison, as Ahed Tamimi has discovered.


Gaza is treated with contempt. The world just watches Israel bludgeoning the planet’s largest open-air prison, where life has become nothing more than a struggle for survival, typically on food handouts

Chris Doyle


Settlers are a different category. The Israeli army is effectively the “sovereign power” in the occupied West Bank but protests it cannot arrest Israeli citizens there including settlers. It can arrest a Palestinian child for slapping a soldier but not a settler for killing a Palestinian. The police have to come to arrest an Israeli, if they turn up at all.

According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, only 8 percent of ideologically motivated attacks on Palestinians — 94 out of 1,163 cases since 2005 — were investigated. Palestinians are, it says, increasingly reluctant to even file a case, seeing it as a waste of time.

About the only point that Israeli war crimes apologists do have is the lack of accountability elsewhere in the region. To even conceive that Syrian regime figures will be held accountable for the inhumane siege and bombing of Yarmouk refugee camp in south Damascus any time soon is optimism on steroids.

Hamas also has to be held accountable. Did it seek to exploit the Gaza protests, to make them violent and to breach the fence with intent to kill? Maybe, though nothing the Israeli authorities have presented as yet demonstrates there was any imminent threat to life posed to their heavily armed and protected forces. Moreover, Israel has a gilded status of immunity as an ally to the powerful, whereas Hamas is a pariah, sanctioned and isolated. Israel enforces accountability against Hamas leaders largely through dropping bombs on them. Those who enjoy seeing Palestinians killed are all too keen to present Hamas as gospel truth tellers when it claimed 50 out of 62 of those killed last Monday were members of the group. Moral inversion was taken to new depths when a notorious apologist claimed: “Israel’s actions saved the lives of Gazans.”

The increasingly fictional international community is largely inactive on Israeli settler crime and on Israeli soldiers using live fire in the West Bank when there is no imminent threat, as it was after Israel’s four wars on Gaza since 2006. Will it be any different now over the Gaza killings? Gaza is treated with contempt. The world just watches Israel bludgeoning the planet’s largest open-air prison, where life has become nothing more than a struggle for survival, typically on food handouts.

The UN Human Rights Council has announced an independent inquiry. Firstly, it will not be allowed access to Israel or Gaza. Secondly, whatever the findings of the inquiry, they will just be ignored and shrugged off as partisan. The body is too weak, and its failure to hold other states to account undermines its efforts to do the same for Israel. Even so, for countries like Britain to abstain in the vote is yet another act of miserable collusion with Israeli crimes. The US has blocked calls for an investigation into the killings at the UN Security Council, which would have been perhaps the only chance of establishing an investigation that might have been taken seriously.

It begs the question just how far does Israel have to go to get a minor ticking off by the US administration? If Israeli snipers had killed 500, 1,000 or 10,000 Palestinians, would the reaction have been the same? Israeli stooges claim this was a restrained and proportionate action, so good luck to the Palestinians if they are on the end of an unrestrained and disproportionate attack by Israeli forces. The scary thought is what would stop them?


  • Chris Doyle is director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU). He has worked with the council since 1993 after graduating with a first class honors degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Exeter University. Twitter: @Doylech
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

Palestinian TV teaches children there’s ‘no alternative to return’ to 1948 homes

May 20, 2018

Ad prepared for ‘Nakba’ commemorations says ‘Our return is certain, and Jerusalem is the eternal capital of our state’


A video for children aired on Palestinian Authority TV as part of annual commemorations of the “Nakba,” or catastrophe, of Israel’s founding, vows a “return” to lands that are today part of Israel.

In the clip, an elderly hand is seen passing on old house keys to the hand of a child. A title declares: “From generation to generation, there is no alternative to the return.”

In the background a singer croons, “We shall return though time passes by and distances grow between us.”

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque are then seen, and a narrator says: “Our return is certain, and Jerusalem is the eternal capital of our state.”

The ad has been aired multiple times on official PA TV since May 10, and was translated by Palestinian Media Watch.

Israel has long insisted that the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, as defined by the Palestinians, is a non-starter in peace negotiations. The UN categorizes as refugees not just those Palestinians who were displaced or expelled from their homes in 1947 and 1948, but also all of their descendants. No other refugee population is treated as such, and so the Palestinian refugee population increases each year, and is now in the millions, while the rest of the world’s decreases.

As a consequence, accepting the “right of return” would mean millions of Palestinians being allowed to enter Israel, ending Israel’s majority Jewish status.

Over the last six weeks, tens of thousands of Gazans, with the encouragement of the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza, have been undertaking weekly “March of Return” protests at the border. Some rioters have tried to damage and break the security fence and infiltrate Israel, while others have thrown petrol bombs and rocks, and burned tires.

Those clashes reached their most intense level yet on Monday, coinciding with the Jerusalem embassy opening, when Israeli forces killed more than 60 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

Israeli leaders have long said Palestinian leadership’s unwillingness to well and truly accept a majority Jewish state in lands Arabs once claimed as their own as the chief roadblock to peace.


Turkey’s Erdogan likens Israeli actions against Palestinians to Nazis

May 19, 2018

Turkey called a special session of Organization of Islamic Cooperation to condemn Israel and the United States. The 57-member body said the US had backed Israel’s “savage crimes.”

Protesters in Gaza running (Reuters/I. Abu Mustafa)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday accused Israel of “thuggery, violence and state terror,” comparing the country’s actions against Palestinians to Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Erdogan opened an extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, sharply condemning Israel for killing more than 100 Palestinians and wounding thousands more in Gaza recent weeks, including some 60 killed in protests on Monday.

“The children of those who were subjected to all sorts of torture in concentration camps during World War II are now attacking Palestinians with methods that would put Nazis to shame,” he told Muslim leaders after he called the session.

Erdogan, who is rotating president of the OIC, lashed out at the United States, accusing Washington of rewarding Israel’s “occupation and apartheid policies” by moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Read more:  Gaza residents ‘caged in a toxic slum: UN human rights chief Zeid

‘New operation against Muslim world’

Palestinians consider East Jerusalem the capital of a future state and the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is considered the third holiest site in Islam. The mosque complex is located on the Temple Mount, a holy site to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Despite all warnings moving the embassy would harm “Muslims, Christians and Jews,” the US government ignored the UN and “opted to side with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and some radical evangelicals Christians” in the United States, Erdogan said.

The United States has “Palestinian blood on its hands,” said Erdogan, adding the US Embassy move to “Jerusalem is a harbinger of a new operation against the Muslim world.”

A final OIC communique labeled Israeli forces’ use of violence against Palestinians “savage crimes” that were carried out “with the backing of the US administration, including through shielding the Israeli occupation in the UN Security Council from accountability.”

The United States regularly uses its veto in the UN Security Council to block resolutions against Israel.

Read more: US Embassy in Jerusalem opens, further fracturing a ‘fragile city’


Final communique of the 7th extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference of the in response to the grave developments in the State of , held in Istanbul, Turkey on 18 May 2018 has been adopted. 

The OIC also called for “the international protection of the Palestinian population including through dispatching of an international protection force.”

Recognizing the need for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, the OIC invited “all countries to officially recognize the State of Palestine.”

This was the second emergency OIC meeting Erdogan called in a half year. In December 2017, the Turkish president called a summit to denounced US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Read more: 70 years of Nakba: The ongoing struggle of Palestinian refugees

Useful election tool

Earlier Friday, Erdogan held a rally in Istanbul attended by tens of thousands of people waving Turkish and Palestinian flags.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attended the rally, telling the crown the US was “trying to provoke a religious conflict in the region” by moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

The Turkish president has been one of the strongest critics of Israeli policies towards Palestinians, an issue that plays well with his conservative and nationalist base. Turkey holds elections on June 24.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed thousands packed in an Istanbul meeting area at a rally he personally called, hours ahead of an emergency meeting of Islamic leaders he was also hosting over the killing of Gaza protesters this week (AFP Photo/OZAN KOSE)

Earlier this week Turkey recalled its ambassadors from Israel and the United States. Israel responded by temporarily expelling the Turkish ambassador.

Turkey is one of the chief regional backers of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Israel and the US consider Hamas a terrorist organization.  Israel has blamed Hamas “terrorists” of inciting the Gaza protests against Israel, a view backed by Washington.

cw/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Erdogan stages Islamic summit to back Palestinians

May 18, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday hosts for the second time in half a year a summit of the main pan-Islamic bloc to show solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israel after the killing of dozens of Gaza protesters.

© POOL/AFP / by Fulya OZERKAN, Ezzedine SAID | OIC foreign ministers meet ahead of a summit of the main pan-Islamic bloc to show solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israel after the killing of dozens of Gaza protesters

Erdogan has reacted with unbridled fury to the killing by Israeli forces on Monday of 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border, accusing Israel of “genocide” and being run as an “apartheid state”.

He has also called a mass demonstration in Istanbul expected to rally hundreds of thousands from 1300 GMT ahead of the summit’s start at 1600 GMT.

Erdogan has already staged an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in December last year to denounce US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“We must give the toughest response … to the crime against humanity committed by Israel,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a meeting of OIC foreign ministers ahead of the summit.

Speaking in Geneva, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein slammed Israel’s reaction to the Gaza protests as “wholly disproportionate”, backing calls for an international investigation.

– ‘OIC disunity upsetting’ –

However, as in 2017, disputes between the OIC’s key players — notably between Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran — may prevent the adoption of any measures going beyond harsh rhetoric.

Riyadh — which appears to have softened its stance on Israel as the influence of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has grown — and its allies fear alienating the United States with tough measures against Tel Aviv.

Saudi’s chief foreign policy preoccupation, shared with Israel, is ensuring US backing to contain Iran which both Riyadh and the Jewish state see as the main threat to regional peace.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia distrust Turkey’s support for Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, complicating any effort to take concrete measures against Israel.

Cavusoglu also said some OIC member states’ failure to show enough support for the Palestinian cause “upsets us”.

– ‘Dragged into chaos’ –

After declaring his intention to hold the event only on Monday, Erdogan has managed to build up an impressive guest list at short notice.

Jordanian King Abdullah II will be present although the Palestinians will be represented by prime minister Rami Hamdallah and not president Mahmud Abbas who this week had surgery on his ear.

From the Gulf, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah is expected as is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar, Turkey’s main regional ally.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir will be at the Istanbul summit. The Saudi level of representation is higher than at the November meeting.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will attend, state media said, and overcoming the enmity between Tehran and Riyadh will be crucial for the Turkish hosts.

As in the November 2017 meeting, a controversial guest will be Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Erdogan has long craved a role as a Muslim leader within the entire Islamic world, rarely holding back with tirades against Israel even though Ankara has diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

“If the silence on Israel’s tyranny continues, the world will rapidly be dragged into a chaos where banditry prevails,” Erdogan said Wednesday.

– ‘Curse the oppression’ –

Tensions with Israel and hosting such a meeting also does Erdogan no harm with his core supporters as Turkey heads to presidential and parliamentary polls on June 24.

In a diplomatic crisis threatening a 2016 deal that allowed the resumption of full ties, Turkey has ordered the Israeli ambassador to leave for an unspecified period of time over the killings.

Turkey had already withdrawn its Tel Aviv ambassador for consultations while Israel ordered the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave, also for an unspecified period of time.

The rally expected just before the summit is set to take place at the Yenikapi meeting area favoured by Erdogan for election rallies and which has capacity for a million people.

Erdogan is himself expected to address the rally organised under the slogan “curse the oppression, support Jerusalem”.

by Fulya OZERKAN, Ezzedine SAID

Turkey Rallies Muslim World To Blocks Embassy Moves to Jerusalem — But Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain on the Sidelines

May 18, 2018

The leaders of the Muslim world will assemble in Istanbul today to take action after the United States inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem and Israelis butchered at least 62 unarmed Palestinians and wounded 2,000 others in Gaza.

Turkey has led a campaign to bring together Muslim leaders in Istanbul as the term president of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Now they have an opportunity to display to the world their strong opposition to the U.S. move and their deep disgust in the killing of unarmed Palestinian protestors by Israeli soldiers.

Turkey has taken an active role to oppose this matter, thus drawing the wrath of the Zionists of the world. Ankara has called back its ambassadors in Washington and Tel Aviv for consultations and has sent the Israeli ambassador back home to consult his own people in Israel.

By İlnur Çevik
Daily Sabah

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again emerged as the leading statesman to rally for the defense of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people. In line with Turkey’s foreign policy principle of “defending the oppressed of the world” Ankara is now raising hell in defense of the Palestinian people. The president is not only rallying support among the Muslims but also among European leaders including the Pope.

It is sad that Israel has managed to inflict cracks among the Arabs regarding the Palestinian issue. The fact that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and countries like Bahrain have turned their backs on the Palestinians has been an eye opener. Yet even these countries have fallen into line when the issue is Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, because they are fully aware that the Arab nation will never forgive them if they become the part of a sellout on Jerusalem.

U.S. President Donald Trump has created more discord in the Middle East by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. He has further complicated the existing mess in the Middle East and has deepened enmities and mistrust.

The task for Muslim countries is first to forge a united front and stand tall against the U.S. and Israel. Then we have to take practical decisions to counter the U.S.’s move and make sure that the world sees the carnage that the Americans have created. After that we need to attend to the plight of the 2,000 Palestinians who were wounded by the Israelis in Gaza.

Israeli authorities are not allowing the transfer of these people to other countries for urgent medical care. Israel has to be pushed to allow the wounded to be transferred to Turkey or any other country where they can receive decent medical attention.

It is sad that we are getting news that the Egyptians are also reluctant to intervene.

The Muslim world should effectively address this issue and, unlike the Arab League, show to all friends and foes that we will not abandon the Palestinian people and Jerusalem.

The Turkish people will also hold a massive rally in the Yenikapı district of Istanbul, with millions of people expected to join, and show to the world their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their anger regarding the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem.


OIC must ensure other countries don’t follow US suit and open embassies in Jerusalem: FM Çavuşoğlu


Muslim countries must together ensure that other nations don’t follow in the path of the United States and open embassies in Israel’s Jerusalem, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday, at the start of a summit to address the issue.

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu made the comment at an opening address of an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which Turkey called after Israeli forces killed dozens of protesters in Gaza. The protesters were demonstrating against the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem.

“In the final declaration, we will emphasize the status of the Palestine issue for our community, and that we will not allow changing the status of the historic city,” Çavuşoğlu said. “We must prevent other countries from following the U.S. example.”

Turkey seeks U.N. General Assembly motion on Jerusalem: foreign minister

May 17, 2018

Turkey wants the United Nations General Assembly to pass a motion regarding Jerusalem, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, as the discomfort over Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli forces grows.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Speaking in an interview to state-broadcaster TRT Haber, Cavusoglu also said that an independent commission needs to prepare a report on the violence in Gaza and that Israel needs to stand in the face of law.

Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday as the United States opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.


Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler



Silence of Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries over the massacre of unarmed Palestinians is disturbing

May 16, 2018

IT was the massacre of unarmed Palestinians, and not the celebrations of the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, that stood out this week. Over 60 Palestinians have been killed and 2,700 injured in Gaza as Israeli forces fired on protesters, killing mostly teenagers.

Dawn (Pakistan)

In fact, the Israelis not only used live bullets but also fighter jets and a tank to prevent protesters from breaking the barricade. According to one report quoting doctors, some of the exit wounds caused by Israeli ammunition were ‘fist-size’. This kind of brutality has not been seen since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

It all happened a mere 90 to 100 kilometres from the site of celebrations at the newly built American embassy in the occupied land. The bloodbath continued as participants from both Israel and the United States sang ‘Hallelujah’ and the Israeli prime minister declared it a “glorious day”.

Palestinians clash with with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018, as Palestinians protest over the inauguration of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem.

Palestinians clash with with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018.MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

May 14 was also the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel. Palestinians refer to the day after as Nakba, or the catastrophe, when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee or were expelled from their homes and became refugees.

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Hamas and the Palestinians send a message: “We want Israelis dead.” “We want Israel gone.”

Donald Trump’s decision to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem has given a bloodier turn to the Palestinian issue and has led to diminishing hopes of any solution to the conflict. The move is a manifestation of the close alliance between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The use of brute force has failed to deter the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation.

Despite the US support to Israel, the previous administrations in Washington had refrained from taking the controversial step. There had been some effort to understand and respond to the Palestinian narrative. But Trump’s blatant support for Israeli expansionism has made the peace negotiations more difficult.

Read: Israel’s man in the White House

In his recorded message at the Jerusalem ceremony, Trump declared that his greatest hope is to achieve peace. Amusingly, he has also claimed that he has an interest in solving the “toughest deal of all”. While condoning the carnage of unarmed Palestinians, Trump says he still intends to present a detailed peace initiative.

His move has plunged the region into greater turmoil and effectively brought to an end any arbitration role for the US in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. While fully endorsing the Israeli narrative, the Trump administration has crossed a red line.

As one analyst put it, “it is an unravelling of the peace process framework which for the past 25 years has led to neither peace nor all-out war”. Not surprisingly, the Israeli prime minister sounded more triumphant and defiant in his celebratory speech. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay,” he declared.

Most shamefully, the American and Israeli officials put the blame for the violence on the protesters. The use of brute force, however, has failed to deter the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. Hundreds of casualties in Gaza are likely to trigger an uprising or intifada spreading to the West Bank.

It is evident that the Trump administration is complicit in the Israeli violence against the hapless Palestinian population. Washington has also blocked the call for a UN investigation into the incident. The move has further emboldened Israeli expansionism and rendered the Middle East situation more explosive.

While the US moves and the carnage in Gaza have evoked strong condemnation by the international community, there is no effective voice for the support of the Palestinians’ right to their homeland despite several UN resolutions. The silence of Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries over the plight of the Palestinian people is particularly disturbing.

It reflects the realignment of forces in the Middle East. It is true that key Arab countries seem more willing to sanction a settlement less favourable to the Palestinians than before because they want Israel as an ally against Iran.

The Jerusalem ceremony took place days after Trump announced the US would unilaterally pull out from the Iranian nuclear deal. Not surprisingly, the controversial decision to reimpose US sanctions on Tehran has been welcomed by Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries have been opposed to the treaty signed by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China besides the United States. Opposition to Iran has brought the two countries on the same side of the Middle East civil war. That has also led to Saudi Arabia’s increasing tilt towards Israel on the Palestinian issue.

The comments made by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, during his recent visit to the United States illustrate the shift in the kingdom’s position on the Palestinian issue. He reportedly scolded the Palestinian leadership for what he described as a decades-long history of “rejecting peace with Israel”, adding they should either begin to accept peace proposals or “shut up”.

A leaked Israeli foreign ministry cable sent by a diplomat from the Israeli consulate in New York said that the crown prince’s comments, made during the closed meetings, apparently caused people to “literally fall off their chairs”.

He made it clear that the Palestinian cause was not a priority for the makers of foreign policy in Riyadh and that the kingdom has to face much wider threats in the region, such as Iran. Although the king tried to exercise damage control because of his son’s outrageous remarks, it does not signify very much as the crown prince is effectively in charge.

Not surprisingly, the US move to shift its embassy to Jerusalem did not evoke much opposition from the kingdom and other Gulf countries. It has indeed emboldened Israel. There is a clear indication that the cooperation between Riyadh and Israel could further increase with the rising tensions in the Middle East following the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

That may also allow Israel to continue using brute force to suppress the Palestinian resistance movement. Undoubtedly, there have been mass protests in some Muslim countries, but is this enough to draw the attention of the international community to Israel’s expansionist objectives under the patronage of the United States?

The writer is an author and journalist.

Twitter: @hidhussain

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018

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