Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

Erdogan and Abbas bark about Jerusalem, but their threats have no bite

December 14, 2017

Times of Israel

In Istanbul, Islamic leaders denounce Israel, vow drastic steps to enable Palestinian statehood, and declare an end to US peace-brokering. But they know there’s no alternative

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, flanked by Jordan's King Abdullah II, left and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, poses for photographs with other leaders during a photo-op prior to the opening session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, flanked by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, left and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, poses for photographs with other leaders during a photo-op prior to the opening session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, December 13, 2017. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

At the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s “Extraordinary Islamic Summit” Wednesday in Istanbul, many leaders from Arab and Muslim-majority countries spoke out harshly about the US administration’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But, despite their bluster, the forecast calls for mostly calm conditions. Many of the threats they issued are rendered meaningless by the rules of the UN or the dynamics of Middle East diplomacy; others have no teeth to begin with.

The summit’s host, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once again called Israel a “terror state,” denounced the US and issued a long list of pro-Palestinian statements. But he did not act on last week’s threat to sever ties with the Jewish state.

Another keynote speaker was Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who threatened to abrogate all peace agreements since Oslo and yet again declared that he no longer considers the US an honest broker in the peace process.

His announcement that he would seek full membership for the “State of Palestine” at the United Nations made headlines worldwide. That plan is not new. He already went to the Security Council in 2011 — and failed.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a press conference following a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on last week’s US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on December 13, 2017, in Istanbul. (AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL)

Abbas has intermittently revived the idea since then, most recently duringhis speech at the General Assembly in September. “We look to the Security Council to approve our application for full membership of the State of Palestine to the United Nations. All those who support the two-state solution should recognize the other state, the State of Palestine,” he declared.

Given the American move last week, Abbas saw fit to respond Wednesday with ferocious rhetoric, including announcing the return to seeking full UN membership for Palestine.

Other speakers in Istanbul echoed his sentiment.

 suggested that the matter of  could be raised at the forum of General Assembly and Security Council.
~ Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif

But anyone with the even the most rudimentary understanding of how the UN works knows it is an empty threat.

Before Palestine can become a full member of the club, it has to be nominated by the UN Security Council. Any Palestinian bid to join is sure to run headfirst into an American veto there. Barack Obama’s administration vetoed the Palestinians’ attempt in February 2011, and there can be no doubt that Donald Trump and Nikki Haley would do the same. (At the time, the 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, which was co-sponsored by over 120 of the UN’s 192 members states.)

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Wednesday night that the Palestinians intend to try to bar the US from voting on a resolution that would both condemn President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and simultaneously admit them as full members of the UN. They will reportedly argue that a country should be prevented from voting on a resolution that deals with its own behavior.

The last time this particular argument was successfully invoked at the Security Council was in 1960, when Argentina did not participate in a vote condemning Israel for abducting Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, according to the paper.

But that was 57 years ago, and Argentina was a non-permanent member of the Security Council at the time. There is no credible scenario in which the US could be prevented from blocking a resolution accepting Palestine as a full UN member state.

The General Assembly can pass very comforting resolutions, which the Palestinians can word in any way they want. But that won’t change their status

The Americans, by contrast, cannot veto resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly, where the Palestinians are guaranteed a majority. “But I don’t think the General Assembly can give them any more than they already have,” said Yigal Palmor, a former spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

“The General Assembly can pass very comforting resolutions, which the Palestinians can word in any way they want. But that won’t change their status,” he said, referring to the fact that the body already bestowed “nonmember state status” upon Palestine in 2012.

Arguing that Washington is no longer “qualified” to mediate in the peace process, Abbas also demanded “to transfer the entire file of the conflict to the United Nations and to establish a new mechanism to adopt a new course to ensure the implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy and achieving a comprehensive and just peace.”

It is unclear what exactly he was referring to, but once again: the UN has very little power to actually do anything without US consent. It can pass sharply worded resolutions in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and elsewhere, but any concrete action with the potential to effect any concrete change would have to go through the Security Council, where the Trump administration is sure to veto anything it deems counterproductive.

In its “Final Communiqué,” the OIC summit declared the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital constituted a “clear desertion … of its role as peace broker.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan delivers the opening speech during an Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on last week’s US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Istanbul on December 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / EMRAH YORULMAZ)

Citing the need to “internationalize peace,” the statement called on the international community to “promote a multilateral political process, to resume an internationally sponsored, credible process to achieve lasting peace based on the two-state solution.”

This demand, too, appears toothless. Yes, the Palestinians have decided to boycott US Vice President Mike Pence’s (now delayed) visit to the region. It’s a strong protest, but the powers that be in Washington won’t be too offended. They understand that after last week’s blow, the Palestinians cannot just sit still and say nothing.

Trump and his peace team are well aware that, for the time being, the Palestinians — and indeed the wider Islamic world — need to express outrage and indignation. But the Americans also believe that the Palestinians will eventually have to calm down and engage with the US — simply because there is no other game in town.

“The president remains as committed to peace as ever,” a senior White House official said Wednesday, responding to Abbas’s fiery speech earlier in the day. Washington “anticipated reactions like this,” the official added, insisting that the US will “continue to work on our plan for peace that we hope will offer the best outcome for both peoples and look forward to unveiling it when it is ready and the time is right.”

As long as the wound over Jerusalem is still fresh, no Islamic leader would admit the obvious: A peace process not led by the US is nothing but a pipe dream.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) holds a joint press conference with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Belgium, October 11, 2017.(Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Even the European Union, which forcefully rejected the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, made plain this week that Washington will remain at the center of any conceivable peace process.

“I can say very clearly that there is no initiative, no peace initiative, no attempt to restart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians that can happen without an engagement from the United States,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declared on Monday, immediately after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels.

While she stressed that Washington cannot act alone, she added that Europe does “not want to see a discredited US administration when it comes to negotiations in the Middle East.”

France and Belgium reportedly plan to get the EU to issue a joint condemnation of Trump’s Jerusalem recognition, which would also express the hope that the city would become the joint capital of Israel and Palestine in the future. Given that such a resolution would require unanimous support from the union’s 28 member states — and Hungary already blocked such a move last week — chances of even this kind of statement passing are slim.

More important still is the fact that Israel will simply not agree to any peace process that is not under American tutelage.

The Palestinians can kick and shout and appeal to the Arab League and the United Nations, but if they want anything more than empty statements of support and comfort, they will have to engage constructively with the US administration.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/erdogan-and-abbas-bark-about-jerusalem-but-their-threats-have-no-bite/

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Muslim leaders urge recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine

December 13, 2017

Reuters

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Muslim leaders condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and called on the world to respond by recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who hosted the summit of more than 50 Muslim countries in Istanbul, said the U.S. move meant Washington had forfeited its role as broker in efforts to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“From now on, it is out of the question for a biased United States to be a mediator between Israel and Palestine, that period is over,” Erdogan said at the end of the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states.

“We need to discuss who will be a mediator from now on. This needs to be tackled in the UN too,” Erdogan said.

A communique posted on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website said the emirs, presidents and ministers gathered in Istanbul regarded Trump’s move “as an announcement of the U.S. Administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace”.

It described the decision as “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus (for) extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security”.

Leaders including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Jordan’s King Abdullah, a close U.S. ally, all criticized Washington’s move.

“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” Abbas said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a violation of international law.

The Trump administration says it remains committed to reaching peace between Israel and the Palestinians and its decision does not affect Jerusalem’s future borders or status.

It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process frozen since 2014.

But Abbas told the leaders in Istanbul that Washington had shown it could no longer be an honest broker.

“It will be unacceptable for it to have a role in the political process any longer since it is biased in favor of Israel,” he said. “This is our position and we hope you support us in this.”

“PALESTINIAN CAPITAL”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer/Pool

Jerusalem, revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, is home to Islam’s third holiest site and has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in an action not recognized internationally.

The communique on the Turkish ministry website and a separate “Istanbul Declaration” distributed to journalists after the meeting said the leaders called on all countries to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

“We invite the Trump Administration to reconsider its unlawful decision that might trigger…chaos in the region, and to rescind its mistaken step,” the declaration said.

Iran, locked in a regional rivalry with Saudi Arabia, said the Muslim world should overcome internal problems through dialogue so it could unite against Israel. Tehran has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Israeli state and backs several militant groups in their fight against it.

“America is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and it has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians,” Rouhani told the summit.

King Abdullah, whose country signed a peace treaty with Israel more than 20 years ago, said he rejected any attempt to alter the status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Abdullah’s Hashemite dynasty is custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim sites, making Amman sensitive to any changes in the city.

Not all countries were represented by heads of government. Some sent ministers and Saudi Arabia, another close ally of Washington‘s, sent a junior foreign minister.

Summit host Turkey has warned that Trump’s decision would plunge the world into “a fire with no end in sight”.

Erdogan described it as reward for Israeli actions including occupation, settlement construction, land seizure and “disproportionate violence and murder”.

“Israel is an occupying state (and) Israel is a terror state,” he told the summit.

“I invite all countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late any more,” Erdogan told leaders and ministers from more than 50 Muslim countries.

Trump’s declaration has been applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Washington had an irreplaceable part to play in the region.

“There is no substitute to the role that the United States plays in leading the peace process,” he said at a Hanukkah holiday candle lighting ceremony on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Erdogan Angry With Arab Nations for “Feeble” Response After Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Capital of Israel

December 12, 2017

Netanyahu in Brussels With EU’s Mogherini: Israel Should Give Peace a Chance

December 11, 2017

Netanyahu’s visit comes on the heels of a harsh exchange with the organization’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who fiercely opposed Trump’s Jerusalem move

(Brussels, Belgium) Dec 11, 2017 9:24 AM
Image result for Netanyahu, Federica Mogherini, photos

File photo: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and the European Union chief of foreign policy 

An Israeli prime minister has not traveled to Brussels, the heart of the EU, in 22 years.

Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and the ramifications of the policy shift, are expected to be a dominant issue during the meetings. Various EU leaders have slammed Trump for the Jerusalem-recognition move, saying that by doing so he has taken Israel’s side on the Jerusalem issue.

The EU has for years adopted the Palestinian position on the matter, saying east Jerusalem needs to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Despite Mogherini’s tough words about the recognition, the EU foreign ministers did not immediately issue a condemnation of the move, because of opposition from Hungary and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic – a strong ally of Israel inside the EU – followed Trump’s recognition by announcing that it was recognizing west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists in Paris protested on Saturday against Netanyahu’s visit, holding Palestinian flags and pictures of Macron branded as an “accomplice.” Protests also took place in numerous capitals over the weekend, including in Berlin, Beirut, London, Mogadishu, Amman and Tehran, as well as in Istanbul.

The Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted a presidential source as saying that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Macron spoke by phone on Saturday and agreed to “close cooperation” on the Jerusalem issue.

According to Huriyet, the two presidents “agreed to continue efforts to convince the US to reconsider its decision.”

Erdogan has called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss the matter. Observers in Jerusalem say that the Turkish president is trying to “ride” the issue into a leadership position on the Arab and Muslim street, similar to what he did following the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 when he became the temporary darling of the Muslim world for his tough rhetoric and confrontational approach to Israel.

Erdogan also spoke on the phone with the presidents of Lebanon, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on Saturday regarding the issue. Israel has strong ties with both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

One senior diplomatic official said that Netanyahu’s visit to Paris and Brussels will undoubtedly be “hot,” and that the prime minister is “furious” at Mogherini for her comments.

According to assessments in Jerusalem, there are influential voices in the EU saying that this is an opportunity to “provide an alternative” and to initiate a peace plan of their own, perhaps reviving the French initiative that died earlier this year when presidents François Hollande of France and Barack Obama of the US left office.

Netanyahu, according to diplomatic sources, has sought a meeting with all the EU foreign ministers for months, but had to overcome initial skepticism on their part.

He is expected to “stand up” to the Europeans, criticizing their “obsession” over the settlements and telling them that they are feeding Palestinian intransigence by giving the impression that a solution can be imposed on Israel from the outside.

Mogherini announced last week that she invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet the foreign ministers at their monthly parley next month.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Defiant-Netanyahu-travels-to-lions-den-517565

See also Haaretz (Paywall):

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-1.828186

BRUSSELS – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded a possible peace deal being drafted by the White House while speaking at the European Union in Brussels…
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-1.828186

Netanyahu faces pressure in Europe amid Jerusalem protests — Netanyahu has taken aim at what he called Europe’s “hypocrisy,” for condemning Trump’s statement

December 11, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he leaves the Elysee Palace on Sunday in Paris. (AFP)

BRUSSELS: Israel’s leader faces renewed pressure from Europe on Monday to reboot the Middle East’s moribund peace process following widespread criticism of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Brussels for an informal breakfast with EU foreign ministers who will urge him to “resume meaningful negotiations,” according to the bloc’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.

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The talks come after French President Emmanuel Macron met Netanyahu in Paris on Sunday and called on him to freeze settlement building and to re-engage with Palestinians following widespread protests over the US move.

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Last week’s decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump upended decades of US diplomacy and broke with international consensus.

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Speaking alongside Netanyahu on Sunday, Macron again condemned the decision as “contrary to international law and dangerous for the peace process.”

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“I urged the prime minister to show courage in his dealings with the Palestinians to get us out of the current dead end,” Macron said after talks in Paris with the Israeli leader.

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“Peace does not depend on the United States alone… it depends on the capacity of the two Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do so,” the French leader said.
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Netanyahu has praised Trump’s decision as “historic” and he explained Sunday that Jerusalem “has always been our capital and it has never been the capital of any other people.”
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“It has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years, it has been the capital of the Jewish state for 70 years. We respect your history and your choices and we know that as friends you respect ours. I think this is also central for peace,” he said.
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“The sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we’ll move toward peace.”
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Before leaving Israel, Netanyahu had taken aim at what he called Europe’s “hypocrisy,” for condemning Trump’s statement, but not “the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it.”
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Pointedly, Macron began his pre-prepared remarks with a clear condemnation “with the greatest of clarity of all forms of attacks in the last hours and days against Israel.”
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Despite the obvious differences between the 39-year-old French leader and the Israeli hard-liner, there were also attempts to show they had developed a good early working relationship and held common views.
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“Does this mean Emmanuel Macron and me agree on everything? No, not all of it, but we’re working it,” Netanyahu said at one point, joking later: “The lunch in the Elysee is superb, the conversation is superb too.”
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The two countries are keen to reset ties after often difficult exchanges under ex-president Francois Hollande.Most EU members, including the bloc’s biggest countries, have expressed alarm over the Trump administration’s policy shift.
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Mogherini has warned the decision on Jerusalem “has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we’re already living in.”
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Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Friday, she repeated Europe’s stance that “the only realistic solution” for peace was two states — Israel and Palestine — with Jerusalem as the capital of both and the borders returned to their status before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
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“It is in Israel’s security interest to find a lasting solution to this decades-long conflict,” she added.
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But the 28-member block is not unified on the issue — Hungary, Greece, Lithuania and the Czech Republic in particular favor warmer ties with Israel.
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Last week Hungary broke ranks to block a joint statement from the EU that was critical of Washington’s Jerusalem shift.
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Trump’s announcement on Wednesday has been followed by days of protests and clashes in the Palestinian territories.
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Four Palestinians were killed either in clashes or from Israeli air strikes in retaliation for rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
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Tens of thousands have also protested in Muslim and Arab countries, including Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia.
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Further protests were held in Lebanon, Indonesia, Egypt and the Palestinian territories on Sunday.
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Macron was also asked if France would attempt to launch another peace initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following failed efforts in the past.
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“There’s a desire by the Americans to mediate which remains and I don’t want to condemn it ab initio (from the beginning),” he said. “We need to wait for the next few weeks, the next months to see what will be proposed.
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“And I think we have to wait to see whether the interested parties accept it or not.”
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Netanyahu was an outspoken critic of efforts by former French president Hollande to push a Middle East peace process.

 

Thousands of Indonesians again protest Trump’s Jerusalem move

December 10, 2017

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Image may contain: one or more people

Protesters hold a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, to condemn the U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thousands protested outside the U.S. Embassy in the Indonesian capital on Sunday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Leaders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s announcement, including Western allies who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence.

Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority countries in Asia have rallied in recent days to condemn the U.S. move.

Israel maintains that all of Jerusalem is its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state and say Trump’s move has left them completely sidelined.

Palestinian people were among the first to recognize Indonesia’s independence in 1945, Sohibul Iman, president of the controversial Islamist opposition Prosperous Justice Party which organized the rally, told protesters.

 Image result for Sohibul Iman, indonesia, photos
Sohibul Iman at a Protest against US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Indonesia should be more proactive in “urging the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) member states and U.N. Security Council and the international community to respond immediately with more decisive and concrete political and diplomatic actions in saving the Palestinians from the Israeli occupation and its collaborator, the United States of America,” Iman said.

“Indonesia as the world’s largest Muslim country has the largest responsibility toward the independence of Palestine and the management of Jerusalem,” he told reporters, adding that he hoped Indonesia would take a leading role within the OIC on the matter.

“Trump has disrupted world peace. It’s terrible,” one protester, Yusri, told Reuters.

The decision was “a major disaster for the Palestinian people, while the Palestinian’s own rights have been taken away for a long time,” said Septi, a student at the rally.

Violence erupted for a third day in Gaza on Saturday in response to Trump’s decision, which overturned decades of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.

Indonesia’s foreign minister left for Jordan on Sunday to meet the Palestinian and Jordanian foreign ministers “to convey Indonesia’s full support for Palestine”.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Is Not a Disaster

December 9, 2017

But the Trump administration needs to walk a very fine line with Palestine and Arab states.

President Donald Trump holds up a proclaimation that the U.S. government will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, at the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump holds up a proclaimation that the U.S. government will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, at the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Few issues in the Middle East are more evocative than Jerusalem. Arab leaders’ public responses to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week have been swift and negative, at least in part because they had little forewarning of what was coming and could not afford to look like they were conceding Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim rights in the city and its holy site.

The irony is that what the president said does not concede those rights and claims. His recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital reflects a reality that it is the seat of Israel’s government and that, for the Jewish state, Jerusalem will always be its capital — there is no other city that could be. For Palestinians, they too no doubt cannot envision any city but Jerusalem as the capital of their state, if and when it emerges from moribund negotiations. The president’s statement does not rule that out: On the contrary, he said that the United States is not taking a position on “the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.” Those questions, he said, “are up to the parties involved.”

Given Arab and Palestinian concerns and the potential for Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and al Qaeda to distort what the United States is doing to foment rage and violence, it is essential that the Trump administration’s message be clear and consistent about not prejudging the outcome of the status of Jerusalem. Maintaining message discipline has not been the hallmark of the Trump White House, but it is crucial now. No stray tweets allowed.

Maintaining message discipline has not been the hallmark of the Trump White House, but it is crucial now. No stray tweets allowed.

The stakes are too high, particularly if the president’s decision is not going to play into the hands of the enemies of peace.That means repeating and reinforcing President Trump’s main theme in his speech: that the United States is drawing a distinction between acknowledging the reality that Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since 1949, and the need for negotiations to resolve all the respective claims that Israelis and Palestinians have, including questions related to Jerusalem. Israelis and Palestinians must resolve these issues directly and without outside interference.

There is a logic to this duality. Israel’s prime minister and parliament are located in the part of Jerusalem that is not contested, and there is an honesty in ending the fiction that the city is not the Israeli capital, which has gone on for close to 70 years. At the same time, given the centrality and potentially explosive nature of Jerusalem, it is vital not to appear to be pre-empting the ability of the parties to determine boundaries of the city and whether it will or will not be a capital for two states. Already Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for an uprising, and the violent riots today in the West Bank signal that anger over the president’s declaration can be further exploited — which also helps to explain Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that the United States can no longer play the mediator’s role.

Because there is an emotional lens through which all parties perceive Jerusalem, any decision can be misrepresented by extremists and produce violence. And if the United States appears to be closing the door on Jerusalem or simply adopting the Israeli position that all of Jerusalem should be under Israeli sovereignty, it may allow the jihadis and the rejectionists to hijack this highly sensitive issue. They, of course, will leap at the opportunity to create a provocation against the United States and against America’s Arab and Palestinian partners — especially Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan. The administration needs to keep in mind the pressures both of these leaders are likely to be under.

One practical step the Trump administration could take to reduce their ability to exploit the president’s decision is to have senior U.S. officials appear on every Arabic-speaking news outlet and explain what this decision is and what it is not. The announcement, they should underline, is about recognizing what no one questions: that any peace deal would end with Israel maintaining its capital in at least part of Jerusalem. That would help make clear the administration’s contention that it is not putting its thumb on the scale against Palestinian interests in Jerusalem — the United States continues to insist that the basic issues related to the future of Jerusalem, the questions of sovereignty, and competing Israeli and Palestinian claims must be subject to negotiations before there can be a peace agreement. Both elements of this message need to be a mantra, repeated to Arabic audiences by top U.S. officials in the weeks ahead, including by Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region.

Both elements of this message need to be a mantra, repeated to Arabic audiences by top U.S. officials in the weeks ahead, including by Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region.

This is the best hope for strengthening the hands of the Arab and Palestinian leaders who must resist the efforts by those like Hamas who will seek to distort the reality and claim that Jerusalem has been given away — and who clearly want to provoke violence and greater polarization. It can also begin to change the environment in a way that allows Abbas and his negotiators, such as Saeb Erekat, to walk back from some of their statements about ending the peace process and the American role in it.

Conveying this message is not just important to avert violence, but also to ensure that the plan that the Trump administration intends to present to the Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab countries is not dead on arrival. The reason former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama invoked the waiver was not because they lacked courage but because they believed this would deny the Palestinians and the Arabs the political space they needed to make hard decisions for peace, thus rendering its achievement more difficult. President Trump argued in his statement that they were wrong. If he wants to prove he is right, he will first need to make clear that their interests and rights have not already been conceded — and then present a credible peace plan, including on Jerusalem.

Dennis Ross is the former American envoy to the Middle East and counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. In 2013-2014, he served in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he was a senior advisor during the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. He just released a high-tech interactive map called Settlements and Solutions.

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http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/12/07/moving-the-us-embassy-to-jerusalem-is-not-a-disaster/

From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Muslims vent fury at Trump’s Jerusalem stance

December 8, 2017

© Fethi Belaid, AFP | A Tunisian protester burns a poster bearing images of the US and Israeli flags during a rally in Tunis on December 8.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the Muslim world on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing their outrage at US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump’s declaration departed from decades of US policy and upended longstanding international assurances that the fate of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as their capital, would be determined in peace negotiations.

The move drew stern criticism from governments across the Middle East and in other Muslim countries, where security was stepped up outside US embassies in anticipation of unrest following Friday prayers.

The expected protests turned violent in the Palestinian territories, where demonstrators staged a “day of rage” and clashed with Israeli security forces.

But the repercussions of Trump’s move were felt far and wide, with protesters from Malaysia to Somalia venting their anger at Washington and expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians.

>> ‘Deplorable and unacceptable’: Trump provokes diplomatic firestorm over JerusalemIn the Egyptian capital of Cairo, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the famed al Azhar mosque and chanted, “Jerusalem is Arab! O Trump, you madman, the Arab people are everywhere!” Egypt is a US ally and has a peace treaty with Israel.

The imam leading the prayers at al Azhar said the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem was a “terrorist decision” that proved America’s bias towards Israel.

In Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, hundreds rallied in the capital Amman chanting, “America is the head of the snake.”

The protesters raised posters showing Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, whose religious guardian is the Jordanian king.

IRANIANS TAKE TO THE STREETS AFTER TRUMP’S DECISION

There were larger protests in Tunisia and Lebanon, with more than 5,000 Lebanese and Palestinians marching from a mosque in western Beirut to a nearby cemetery where several Palestinian commanders are buried.

In Iran, which has never recognised Israel and supports anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah, demonstrators burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while chanting, “Death to the Devil.”

Iranian media said similar rallies took place in other cities and towns across the country after Friday prayers.

‘Slap in the face for Muslims’

Protests were also reported in several Turkish cities, including a small gathering outside the heavily protected US embassy in Ankara, where police prevented protesters from setting US flags alight.

A much larger crowd, estimated at 3,000, gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district before marching toward a park waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

“What Trump says is empty words and means nothing to us,” said Merve, a young student in the crowd. “Whenever we see the name of Israel on a map, we cross it out and write Palestine,” she added.

Protesters step on a poster of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 8, 2017. © Ozan Kose, AFP

Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan organised rallies in Islamabad and other cities, with some protesters torching effigies of the US president. Protests took place in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest, as well as Multan and Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.

Islamist leaders addressed the crowds and urged Muslim countries to cut diplomatic ties with Washington to pressure Trump to reconsider his decision.

There was further unrest in neighbouring India, where protesters burned US and Israeli flags at rallies in restive Kashmir province.

Anti-American sentiment also ran high at a rally in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where a crowd of several hundred shouted, “Trump, down!”

More protests were reported in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, and in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, where more than 1,000 people rallied outside the US embassy.

“This insensitive action will inflame the hearts of Muslims worldwide,” said Mohamad Rasul, a 51-year-old train driver in the Malaysian capital, describing Trump’s move as a “slap in the face for Muslims”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Trump Jerusalem move triggers Palestinian unrest

December 8, 2017

AFP

© Thomas Coex, AFP | Israeli flags fly near the Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on December 5, 2017. The EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved “through negotiations”, as US President Donald Trump mulls recognising the city as the capital of Israel.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Furious Palestinians have called for a “day of rage” on Friday as protests spread against US President Donald Trump’s widely criticised recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A senior Palestinian official said late Thursday US Vice President Mike Pence was “not welcome in Palestine” following the policy shift, which ended decades of US ambiguity on the status of the disputed city.

But the White House said it would be “counterproductive” to cancel a scheduled meeting between Pence and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas later this month.

Sporadic clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces on Thursday, as Israel deployed hundreds more troops to the occupied West Bank amid uncertainty over the fallout.

Bethlehem Proteste gegen Anerkennung USA Jerusalem Sicherheitskräfte (picture-alliance/AA/M. Wazwaz)

Israel security forces

Trump’s announcement was met by an almost universal diplomatic backlash as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lavished praise on the president, saying his name would be associated with Jerusalem’s long history and urging other countries to follow suit.

‘Deplorable and unacceptable’: Trump provokes diplomatic firestorm over Jerusalem

In a speech in Gaza City, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada, or uprising. Within hours several projectiles were fired from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said.

One hit Israeli territory, prompting the army and air force to retaliate by targeting “two terror posts” in Gaza, it said, blaming Hamas, the enclave’s Islamist rulers.

Demonstrations were held in West Bank cities as well as in Gaza, where five Palestinians were wounded from Israeli fire, Gazan authorities said.

Israeli forces dispersed tear gas at a checkpoint entrance to Ramallah, while the Palestinian Red Crescent reported 22 wounded from live fire or rubber bullets in the West Bank.

– ‘Darker times’ –

 

Trump said his defiant move — making good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge — marks the start of a “new approach” to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said Wednesday.

But his willingness to part with international consensus on such a sensitive issue drew increasingly urgent warnings from around the world.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the decision could take the region “backwards to even darker times”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was “deeply concerned”, calling for the Palestinians and Israel to renew negotiations.

And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it would put the region in a “ring of fire”.

– ‘Not welcome’ –

 

Pence is due to meet the Palestinian president in the second half of December on a regional tour, but a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah faction said the leader would not meet him.

“The American vice president is not welcome in Palestine. And President Abbas will not welcome him,” said Jibril Rajoub.

However the White House is likely to only consider the meeting cancelled if they hear that from Abbas, whose office could not be reached for comment.

In a joint statement with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Abbas said “any measure tampering with the legal and historical status of Jerusalem is invalid” and warned Trump’s decision would “have dangerous repercussions”.

In Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, called for a mass demonstration on Monday “to protest and denounce this American aggression”. Protests are also planned in Turkey and Malaysia.

Palestinian shops in east Jerusalem and the West Bank were largely shuttered and schools closed on Thursday in answer to a general strike call.

“By this decision, America became a very small country, like any small country in the world, like Micronesia,” Salah Zuhikeh, 55, told AFP in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Hamas called for fresh protests after the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

Trump’s move left many angry US allies struggling to find a diplomatic response, with an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council set for Friday.

– Right-wing politics –

 

Trump also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — another campaign promise dear to US evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters.

His predecessors had made the same pledge, but quickly reneged upon taking office.

Several peace plans have unravelled in the past decades over the issue of how to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites in Jerusalem.

A disputed capital: Why the status of Jerusalem is so contentious

Israel seized Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

The Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognise the ancient city as Israel’s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved in negotiations.

This point was reiterated by UN chief Antonio Guterres, who stressed his opposition to “any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace”.

Trump insisted the move did not prejudge final talks, saying it simply reflected the reality that west Jerusalem is and will continue to be part of Israel under any settlement.

“The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides,” he said.

(AFP)

Trump’s announced Jerusalem embassy move sparks anger, protests — Palestinian president claims world support

December 8, 2017

A Palestinian protester in the West Bank city of Ramallah burns tires on Thursday during clashes with Israeli troops following protests against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AP)

JEDDAH/JERUSALEM: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday he is rallying international opposition to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which he called an “unacceptable crime.”
At a meeting with Jordan’s king, Abbas said that he rejects Trump’s decision and believes America has hurt its credibility in the region.

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Abbas said the Palestinians have been rallying Arab support as they formulate a response. He said he has been communicating with other world leaders.
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“Fortunately, there was a positive response from all the countries in the world, from Europe and from Africa and countries close to America that don’t support the US,” he said. “These all are messages to Trump that what he did is an unacceptable crime.”
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Abbas is trying to organize a three-way summit with King Abdallah of Jordan and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestinian National Council, told the Amman-based radio Al Balad.
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Saudi Arabia expressed “great disappointment” over Trump’s announcement. In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the royal court said the Kingdom had previously warned of the serious consequences of such an “irresponsible and unwarranted step.”
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The statement said: “The Kingdom expresses its denunciation and deep regret that the (Trump) administration has taken this step, as it represents a great bias against the historic and permanent rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, which have been affirmed by the relevant international resolutions and have been recognized and supported by the international community.”
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Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank while demonstrators in Gaza burned posters of President Donald Trump.
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The leader of Hamas, which runs Gaza, called for a new armed uprising in a widespread show of anger, as the demonstrators torched American and Israeli flags.
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The Israeli military said it struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response to projectiles fired at Israel.
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In the West Bank, crowds of protesters set tires on fire and hurled stones at Israeli troops. In Bethlehem, troops fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd, in clashes that could cloud the upcoming Christmas celebrations. In Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, protesters set tires on fire, sending a thick plume of black smoke over the city.
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Palestinians shuttered their schools and shops on Thursday to begin three “days of rage.”
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The Israeli military said it would deploy several battalions to the West Bank ahead of Friday, while other troops have been put on alert to address “possible developments.”
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Dozens of civilians were wounded by rubber bullets during the clashes with the Israeli forces following demonstrations.
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The Palestinian Red Crescent said its crews dealt with 108 injuries, some with live bullets, during the confrontations in many cities and towns including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Jenin, the borders of Khan Yunis and the center of Gaza Strip.
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In Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps, protesters burned tires and fired in the air, as their leaders called for a “day of rage” on Thursday and a “total shutdown in all camps.”
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Hundreds of Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon took to the streets in spontaneous protest at Trump’s decision.”Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” said a refugee in Ain Al-Hilweh camp. “This is what our history says, and what books and international resolutions say.”
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Jordanian demonstrators torched the US flag and pictures of Trump during a protest near the American Embassy in Amman.
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Dozens of riot police cars surrounded the fortified embassy compound to keep protesters at bay and policemen deployed in the area.
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Hundreds of hard-liners rallied in major cities across Pakistan.
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The demonstrators dispersed peacefully after Thursday’s rallies in the capital, Islamabad. Similar anti-US rallies were also held in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, as well as in the city of Multan in Punjab province.
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