Posts Tagged ‘Mahmud Abbas’

Kushner, Egypt’s Sisi discuss Israel-Palestinian peace process

June 21, 2018

US President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Sisi told the US diplomats, who are touring the region in a bid to revive long-stalled talks, that Egypt supports a “just and comprehensive settlement” to the conflict.

© EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY/AFP | A picture released by Egypt’s Presidency on June 21, 2018 shows (R-L) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meeting US President Donald Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner in Cairo

He argued in favour of a “two-state solution on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine,” the presidency said in a statement.

Trump’s administration sparked anger across the Arab world in December by recognising Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian leadership responded by freezing all contacts with US officials.

In May Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking mass demonstrations on Israel’s flashpoint border with Gaza in which Israeli forces shot dead dozens of demonstrators.

The White House said Thursday that Kushner and Greenblatt had discussed increasing cooperation between the United States and Egypt.

They also talked about “the need to facilitate humanitarian relief to Gaza, and the Trump administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians”, it said.

Sisi’s office said he had told them Egypt maintains “ongoing contacts with the parties concerned to advance efforts to revive negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.”

He also pointed to Egypt’s efforts to promote reconciliation between the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Islamists Hamas who rule Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority, which sees the Trump administration as biased towards Israel, said Saturday that US plans to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are “doomed to fail”.

Kushner and Greenblatt met Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Tuesday before visiting Riyadh to meet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They are reported to be planning visits to Israel and Qatar.



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.

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

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)

Istanbul summit urges international force to protect Palestinians

May 19, 2018

A summit in Istanbul of Muslim heads of state on Friday called for the creation of an international peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinians, as host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “brutality” comparable to the Nazis.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — seeking to bridge severe differences within the Muslim world — said in a final communique that Israel had carried out the “wilful murder” of some 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border Monday.

It called “for the international protection of the Palestinian population, including through dispatching of international protection force”.

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

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)

By Fulya OZERKAN, Ezzedine SAID

Erdogan said the sending of such an “international peacekeeping force” was essential to help the Palestinians and stop the international community being a “spectator to massacres”.

He compared such a force to the UN forces sent to deal with the aftermath of the Balkan wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The statement also angrily lashed out at the United States, saying that Washington was complicit in the “crimes” of Israel and “emboldened” its government by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

– ‘No difference with Nazis’ –

The summit had been called at a few days notice by Erdogan, who had earlier addressed thousands at an open air rally in Istanbul to express solidarity with the Palestinians.

Speaking at the opening of the summit, Erdogan compared Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II.

“There is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to,” he said, accusing Israel of using methods “similar to the Nazis”.

Around six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II in the Holocaust.

Addressing the earlier rally, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim used similar language, saying Israel was “imitating Hitler and Mussolini” by occupying Palestinian territory and disregarding international law.

Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah — stepping in for president Mahmud Abbas who this week had surgery on his ear — told the rally that the US was “trying to provoke a religious conflict in the region” by moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

– ‘Test for Islamic world’ –

Erdogan complained that Muslims had too often given a “shy and cowardly” image to their foes and failed to sort out internal disagreements.

Describing the issue of Jerusalem as a “test”, he said: “If we need to speak clearly, the Islamic world failed in the Jerusalem test.”

This is the second emergency OIC meeting Erdogan has hosted in the space of half a year after the December 2017 summit, also in Istanbul, that denounced US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Disputes between the OIC’s key players — notably between Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran — always complicate 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 Arabia’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.

In his speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pointedly criticised “the silence of certain countries” without which “the Zionists would have never attempted such a brutality”

Both Cairo and Riyadh are wary of Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, as well as its close alliance with Qatar which is currently under a Saudi-led blockade. the Egyptian and Saudi foreign ministers came but not the heads of state.

– ‘Called to account’ –

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.

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.

And he has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of Israel after Monday’s bloodshed, earlier this week even accusing the Jewish state of genocide.

He called for an international investigation into the “crimes” Israel has committed. “It will be called to account sooner or later,” he said.

U.S. Blocks UN Security Council Statement on Gaza Border Clashes

April 1, 2018


The statement called for an independent probe into deadly clashes at the Gaza border. ‘I’m shocked to hear such hypocrisy,’ says Israeli ambassador to UN

.Palestinian demonstrators during clashes with Israeli troops at the southern Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018.
Palestinian demonstrators during clashes with Israeli troops at the southern Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018.\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

The United States blocked a draft statement in the UN Security Council Saturday that called for an investigation into clashes on Israel’s border with Gaza that left 15 Palestinians dead, diplomats told AFP.

The statement proposed by Kuwait, the representative of Arab countries on the council, demanded an “independent and transparent investigation” into Friday’s violence with respect to international law.

The statement also expressed “grave concern at the situation at the border,” affirmed “the right to peaceful protest” and “called upon all sides to exercise restraint and prevent a further escalation.”

The U.S. raised objections to the council’s adoption of the statement Saturday after it was circulated on Friday, said one diplomat to AFP.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Dannon said on Israeli radio Saturday that the U.S. stopped the statement from advancing in cooperation with Israel. “The wording was acceptable to all members of the council excluding the United States,” Dannon said in an interview, “but the facts are clear. We are currently transferring to the various representatives material on the terrorists that took part in this activity.”

Saturday Gaza Protest: Israel Wounds 13 Palestinians

March 31, 2018

A general strike was being honoured in the occupied West Bank; limited protests in Gaza on the day after Israel killed 15 unarmed Palestinians and injured hundreds

AFP , Ahram Online , Reuters , Saturday 31 Mar 2018

Palestinians gather during a protest near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, Saturday, March 31, 2018. (Photo: AP)

Israeli troops fired warning shots towards Palestinian youths gathered at the Gaza-Israel border on Saturday, wounding 13 people, health officials said.Tension remained high in the area a day after deadly violence broke out in one of the biggest Palestinian demonstrations there in years.

An Israeli military spokesman said he was checking the details of Saturday’s unrest.

Palestinians held limited protests near the Gaza border a day after a major demonstration led to clashes that saw Israeli forces kill 15 people and injure hundreds in the bloodiest day since a 2014 war.

Protesters began returning to a tent city erected near the border with Israel to resume the demonstration planned to last six weeks in the blockaded enclave.

Thousands were attending funerals for those killed, with mourners holding Palestinian flags and some chanting “revenge.”

A general strike was being held in both the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.

“The large number of martyrs and people wounded in peaceful popular demonstrations shows that the international community must intervene to provide protection to our Palestinian people,” he said.


A man passes closed shops as Palestinians call for a general strike, in Al-Khalil (Hebron), in the occupied West Bank March 31, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)

Israel defended its soldiers’ actions on Friday, when troops opened fire on Palestinians who strayed from the main tent city protest — attended by tens of thousands — and approached the heavily fortified fence cutting off the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military says it opened fire only when necessary against those throwing stones and firebombs or rolling tyres at soldiers.

It also said there were attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israel, while alleging there was an attempted shooting attack against soldiers along the border that caused no casualties.

But Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, while human rights groups questioned Israel’s use of live fire.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an “independent and transparent investigation.”

In addition to the 16 killed, more than 1,400 were wounded, 758 of them by live fire, with the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, according to the Gazan health ministry.

No casualties were reported among Israelis.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declaredMahmud Abbas and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.

“The large number of martyrs and people wounded in peaceful popular demonstrations shows that the international community must intervene to provide protection to our Palestinian people,” he said.


Palestinian women mourn the victims of Israeli killings on 2018 Land Day (Reuters)

An Israeli military spokesman said Friday’s events were “not a protest demonstration” but “organised terrorist activity.”

He accused Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the besieged Gaza Strip and which has fought three wars against Israel since 2008, of being behind it and threatened wider military action if it continued.

“If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events,” Brigadier General Ronen Manelis told journalists.

The six-week protest is in support of Palestinian refugees and the timetable holds significance for a range of reasons that have added to tensions.

It began on Land Day when Palestinians commemorate the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976, and as Jewish Israelis readied to observe the Passover holiday, which started at sundown on Friday.

Protests will continue until the United States opens its new Jerusalem embassy around May 14, a move that has provoked deep anger among the Palestinians, who see the city’s annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

May 14 will also mark 70 years since the creation of Israel, while Palestinians will commemorate what they call the Nakba, or “catastrophe” of 1948 the following day.

Nakba commemorates the more than 700,000 Palestinians who either fled or were expelled by Zioniust gangs from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

2.5 million Palestinians in Gaza have been living under a devastating 10-year old land-air-sea siege by the occupation.

US President Donald Trump has harshly criticised the Palestinians in the past, but the State Department said only that it was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life and urged steps to lower tensions.

Human Rights Watch criticised Israel’s actions.

“Israeli allegations of violence by some protesters do not change the fact that using lethal force is banned by international law except to meet an imminent threat to life,” the New York-based group said, calling the number of killed and wounded “shocking.”

Israel had deployed troop reinforcements along the border, including more than 100 special forces snipers, saying it would prevent attempts to break through the fence.

Protests along the border are common, often culminating in young Palestinian men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who respond with tear gas along with rubber and live bullets.

But the peaceful “March of Return” protest that began on Friday is larger scale and is intended to involve families with Palestinian women and children camping in tent cities near the border for weeks.

Palestinians at tent near Israel Border to demand Right of Return before Israel occupation opens fire killing 16 and wounding hundreds (AFP)

Palestinian president calls US ambassador to Israel ‘son of a dog’

March 20, 2018

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was less than flattering in his comments about US ambassador to Israel David Friedman. (AFP)
RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas labelled the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog” on Monday during a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s policies.
“The US ambassador in Tel Aviv is a settler and a son of a dog,” Abbas said in comments to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.
Relations between Abbas’s government and President Trump’s US administration have broken down since the White House recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.
The Palestinians also see the disputed city as the capital of their future state.
Friedman, who was Trump’s personal lawyer before being appointed last year, is a longstanding supporter of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, considered illegal under international law.
On Monday, Friedman referred to an attack in the West Bank as “in the north,” raising questions over whether he views it as part of Israeli territory, and accused Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) of failing to condemn it.
“Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA!” he tweeted, referring to a Friday car ramming that killed two soldiers and a Sunday stabbing in Jerusalem that left an Israeli dead, both carried out by Palestinians.
Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank since 1967 but Abbas’s government has limited autonomy in parts of it.


Palestinian leader goes to the UN to counter US on Jerusalem

February 20, 2018


© AFP/File / by Carole LANDRY | In an address to the UN Security Council Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas will call for a new collective approach to salvage the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas will urge world powers at the UN Security Council on Tuesday to stand up to the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and establish a revamped peace process.President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem infuriated the Palestinians who declared that the United States could no longer play a role as lead mediator in the Middle East peace process.

The stage will be set for a tense face-off with US Ambassador Nikki Haley, just weeks after she launched a scathing attack on Abbas and accused him of lacking the courage needed for peace.

Addressing the council for the first time since 2009, Abbas will call for a new collective approach in a bid to salvage the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour.

Abbas “will say that after the 6th of December with regard to Jerusalem, that now is the time for a collective approach,” Mansour told AFP.

This could lead to a stepped up role for the other four permanent council members – Britain, France, China and Russia – or an expanded diplomatic quartet with Arab countries and others.

The Middle East quartet currently is made up of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

Mansour said the Security Council – as the highest authority on matters of international peace and security – should come up with a new multilateral initiative and said the United States would not be sidelined.

In this new approach, the United States “will not have the only control. They will be part of the collective process for sure,” said Mansour.

“The bottom line is we want a new active process,” he said.

Israel, which often accuses the European Union and the United Nations of bias against it, would be reluctant to accept any other mediator than the United States.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon will also address the council.

– New phase of struggle –

Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told state media that a “new phase of struggle has started” as the Palestinians seek to protect their claim to Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and UN resolutions call on countries to refrain from moving their embassies to the city until its status is resolved in an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

In December, the General Assembly voted 128-9, with 35 abstentions, to reject the US decision to recognize Jerusalem.

That vote in the 193-nation assembly came after 14 of the 15 council members voted in favour of a similar measure. The United States vetoed that draft resolution.

Abbas’ address to the council comes as the Trump administration is preparing a new peace plan even though chances for agreement appear dim.

Tensions have also flared over the US decision to cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Trump has accused the Palestinians of “disrespecting” the United States when Abbas refused to meet US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the region last month.

“We give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support,” Trump said, before warning “that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”

Abbas will also meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres but no separate meeting is planned with Haley, who has energetically defended the US decisions on Jerusalem and the funding cuts.

Haley told the council last month that peace will not be achieved “without leaders with courage” and warned the United States “will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace.”

The United Nations granted Palestine the status of a non-member observer state in 1992, but an upgrade to full membership would require unanimous backing from the Security Council.

Diplomats said they were no plans for the time being to seek full UN membership, a move that would certainly face a US veto.

by Carole LANDRY

Abbas, In U.N. Speech, Expected To Ask Nations To Reject U.S. Mediated Peace Negotiations Between Palestinians and Israelis

February 19, 2018


© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | A file picture taken on September 20, 2017 shows Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas addressing the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City


Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will call for an alternative to US-mediated negotiations with Israel during a rare address to the United Nations Security Council, Palestinian officials said Monday.

Addressing the council Tuesday for the first time since 2009, the longtime Palestinian leader is expected to call for multiple international powers to facilitate peace negotiations and again criticise the United States’ controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Donald Trump’s December announcement angered the Palestinians, who also consider the city the capital of their future state, and led them to say the US had disqualified itself from its traditional role as lead mediator in talks with Israel.

In a statement ahead of the visit, Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told state media a “new phase of struggle has started” as they seek to protect their claim to Jerusalem.

Senior Palestinian official Nasser al-Qudwa said on Monday that Abbas would be looking to gain support for a multilateral initiative, but added that the Palestinians would not dictate what shape it would take.

The 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement negotiated by the so-called P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — is seen by many Palestinians as a good example.

“We can live with different formats, the P5, P5+1, expanded Quartet, we can live with an international peace conference,” Qudwa told a news conference in Ramallah.

“Anything that can do the job, provide a reasonable basis for negotiation and follow up the process — sponsor it until it successfully concludes.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, is expected to respond to Abbas’s comments.

Israel, which often accuses both the European Union and the United Nations of bias against it, would be reluctant to accept any other mediator than the US.

Palestine is currently a non-member observer state at the UN, but would need a UN Security Council vote to be upgraded to full membership.

Palestinian reconciliation deal dying slow death — with no progress in sight

February 1, 2018

Fatah’s Azzam Al-Ahmad (L) shares a laugh with Hamas leader Izzat Al-Rishq (R) following the signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo. Under the agreement, the Palestinian Authority was to resume full control of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by December. (File Photo: AFP)
GAZA CITY: The two leading Palestinian factions missed another deadline Thursday to implement a reconciliation deal, potentially burying the landmark accord aimed at ending their decade-long split.
Hamas was to hand over power in the Gaza Strip by December to the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by secular movement Fatah.
But the handover was missed and a February 1 deadline for solving the issue of two rival civil services passed Thursday with no progress in sight.
While small changes have occurred since the deal was signed in October — notably the handing over of Gaza’s borders to the PA — Hamas remains firmly in charge in Gaza.
Hamas and Fatah traded blame for what could turn out to be a gradual abandoning of the accord.
Senior Hassam official Bassem Naim said the Fatah-led PA had backed away from the deal “without clear reasons,” while Fayez Abu Eita, a Fatah official in Gaza, called for Hamas to respect the deal.
Egypt, which brokered the agreement, has elections coming up and the focus of its leaders appears elsewhere.
Egyptian intelligence services chief Khaled Fawzy, the main broker of the deal, was replaced last month.
It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.
Earlier this week a senior United Nations warned Gaza was on the verge of “full collapse.”
The reconciliation deal was also seen by some as a strategy for the Palestinians to face down an increasingly hostile US administration and right-wing Israeli government.
US President Donald Trump has suspended tens of millions of dollars in aid and threatened to withhold much more.
On Wednesday his administration added Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to a terror blacklist.
Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result, leading to increased strife.
A year later, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza.
Since then two separate civil administrations emerged.
The PA kept on its payroll tens of thousands of employees, who stayed home but still claimed their salaries, while Hamas employed tens of thousands to replace them.
This and the as yet unresolved future of Hamas’s vast armed wing are the two key issues that have derailed previous reconciliation bids.
“They were trying to negotiate the issues over time in order to build a sense of trust, but these issues — the employees and Hamas’s standing army — are the biggest hurdles, and it’s clear they haven’t surpassed them,” said Grant Rumley, who focuses on Palestinian politics at the US think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Since October, Hamas has largely stopped paying its staff, saying it is the responsibility of the PA under the agreement while last year PA staff have had their salaries cut by 30 percent.
Bashir Amer, 30, who works at the Hamas-run education ministry, said he was struggling to care for his family.
“They give us 1,000 shekels ($300, 235 euros) and it is not enough to eat and drink,” he said.
Hugh Lovatt, Israel and Palestine coordinator at the European Council of Foreign Relations think tank, said Egypt’s Fawzy “had really been driving this process.”
“It is unclear whether Egyptian sponsorship of the ongoing reconciliation process — which has been critical — will continue in his absence.”
Meanwhile Hamas, which remains heavily armed, has appointed former military figures to senior roles in the past year, most notably former military leader Yahya Sinwar who became its chief Gaza.
Fears have grown that Hamas — which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 — could opt for war again, Rumley said.
“My sense is that Sinwar and the rest of the military faction do not want a war now because they’re focused on ameliorating the situation, primarily through reconciliation talks,” he said.
“When those fail and Hamas is backed into a corner, how will its new leadership respond?“


Jordan king urges world to back Palestinian rights — Wants East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital

January 29, 2018


Jordan’s King Abdullah II (R) welcomes Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at the Royal Palace in Amman on January 29, 2018. (AFP)
AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday urged the international community to “fulfil its responsibilities” toward Palestinians in Jerusalem and support the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
His comments, following a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, came after US President Donald Trump sparked Arab and Muslim outrage by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and suspended funds to UNRWA.
“The international community must fulfil its responsibilities to protect the rights of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem,” Abdullah said, according to a palace statement.
The city is “the key to achieving peace and stability in the region,” he said.
East Jerusalem was under Jordanian administration before Israel occupied it during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, recognizes the kingdom’s status as custodian of the city’s holy sites.
Jordan in December called Trump’s move “a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter.”
The Jordanian monarch also on Monday urged the international community to support the UN agency for Palestinians.
Earlier this month, the United States put on hold two planned payments of more than $100 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The agency, set up after the 1948 creation of Israel that drove huge numbers of Palestinians from their homes, faces what the UN has described as the “most severe” crisis in its history.