Posts Tagged ‘Mahmud Abbas’

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

April 1, 2018

Haaretz

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.”

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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
GAZA

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.

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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.

Gaza

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)
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.
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“The US ambassador in Tel Aviv is a settler and a son of a dog,” Abbas said in comments to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah.
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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.
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The Palestinians also see the disputed city as the capital of their future state.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank since 1967 but Abbas’s government has limited autonomy in parts of it.

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Palestinian leader goes to the UN to counter US on Jerusalem

February 20, 2018

AFP

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

February 19, 2018

AFP

© 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

RAMALLAH (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – 

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.
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Hamas was to hand over power in the Gaza Strip by December to the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by secular movement Fatah.
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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.
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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.
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Hamas and Fatah traded blame for what could turn out to be a gradual abandoning of the accord.
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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.
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Egypt, which brokered the agreement, has elections coming up and the focus of its leaders appears elsewhere.
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Egyptian intelligence services chief Khaled Fawzy, the main broker of the deal, was replaced last month.
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It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.
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Earlier this week a senior United Nations warned Gaza was on the verge of “full collapse.”
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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.
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US President Donald Trump has suspended tens of millions of dollars in aid and threatened to withhold much more.
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On Wednesday his administration added Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to a terror blacklist.
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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.
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A year later, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza.
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Since then two separate civil administrations emerged.
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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.
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This and the as yet unresolved future of Hamas’s vast armed wing are the two key issues that have derailed previous reconciliation bids.
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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“It is unclear whether Egyptian sponsorship of the ongoing reconciliation process — which has been critical — will continue in his absence.”
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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.
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Fears have grown that Hamas — which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 — could opt for war again, Rumley said.
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“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.
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“When those fail and Hamas is backed into a corner, how will its new leadership respond?“

COMMENTS

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.
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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.
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“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.
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The city is “the key to achieving peace and stability in the region,” he said.
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East Jerusalem was under Jordanian administration before Israel occupied it during the 1967 Six-Day War.
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Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, recognizes the kingdom’s status as custodian of the city’s holy sites.
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Jordan in December called Trump’s move “a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter.”
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The Jordanian monarch also on Monday urged the international community to support the UN agency for Palestinians.
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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.
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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.
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US takes swipe at Palestinian leader Abbas — At the U.N.

January 25, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas had “insulted” US President Donald Trump
UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) – US Ambassador Nikki Haley took direct aim at Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Thursday, telling the United Nations Security Council that he lacked the courage needed for a peace deal.Haley spoke soon after President Donald Trump insisted that Palestinians had “disrespected” the United States and issued a new threat to cut aid during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland.

The United States remains “deeply committed” to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, Haley said, “but we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace.”

“To get historic results, we need courageous leaders,” she said.

The US ambassador, who has strongly defended Israel at the United Nations, said Abbas had “insulted” Trump and called for suspending recognition of Israel after the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abbas cancelled a planned meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence to protest the US decision on Jerusalem, which the Palestinians view as the capital of their future state.

Addressing the council, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the search for peace had been Abbas’ “life’s work” and suggested attacks on the Palestinian leader were a form of “demonization.”

Mansour said the Palestinian rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem “is not intended as ‘disrespect'” but rather a “position rooted in full respect for the law, for the principles of justice and equity.”

The Security Council was meeting to discuss Israeli-Palestinian tensions for the first time since the General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, to reject the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The US move broke with decades of international consensus that the city’s status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The meeting also followed a US decision to freeze more than $100 million in funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) that has been criticized by European governments.

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US Christian tourists see deep meaning in Trump’s Jerusalem move

January 21, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Mike Smith | Members of a group of American Baptist Christian tourists stand at the Mount of Olives as they look towards Jerusalem’s Old City and the Dome of the Rock on January 20, 2018

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Near the olive grove where Christians believe Jesus agonised before his crucifixion, an American visitor spoke of a decision by US President Donald Trump some believe also holds spiritual importance.Phillip Dunn, the 37-year-old pastor of an evangelical Christian church in the US state of South Carolina, said he saw Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month as part of biblical prophecy.

“Certainly this holds a lot of significance for people in that way. We believe Christ is going to return,” Dunn, part of a group of around 50 American Southern Baptists visiting Jerusalem holy sites over the weekend, said before climbing back aboard a tour bus.

Trump’s controversial declaration on December 6 will be back in the spotlight over the coming days with Vice President Mike Pence arriving Sunday night for talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.

Dunn and his fellow believers are key backers of Trump’s move in the United States and part of the Christian evangelical community there that has become an important pillar of support for his Republican party.

Pence, who stood behind Trump as he made his Jerusalem announcement, is himself an evangelical Christian.

Dunn and others on the Jerusalem tour, planned before Trump’s announcement, said they were pleased with his declaration because they consider it important to support Israel and affirm its claim that the entire city is its capital.

But there were also otherworldly considerations among the group.

Some evangelicals believe, based on interpretations of scripture, that firmly establishing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and establishing a new temple there could help lead to the second coming of Jesus.

Dunn and others on the trip said interpretations of Jerusalem’s place in biblical prophecy vary too widely to provide a simple answer such as that one.

– ‘A lot of mystery’ –

Brett Burleson, a pastor at a church in Alabama, said “there’s a lot of mystery to that, so I don’t claim to know how it’s all going to play out”.

“We do recognise that this is a place where we believe the Lord Jesus himself will return and bring a peaceful end to human history,” the 47-year-old said.

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied and later annexed its eastern sector in the Six-Day War of 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump’s declaration deeply angered the Palestinians, with president Mahmud Abbas cancelling plans to meet Pence during his visit, which had been set for late December before being postponed.

The declaration was partly the result of a long political debate in the United States, with a law passed calling for the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1995.

It however allowed presidents to sign a waiver every six months to prevent the embassy move for national security reasons.

Trump again signed the waiver when declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital last month, but stressed he intended to move the embassy.

He also said Jerusalem’s final borders and status would have to be negotiated, but Palestinians were unconvinced.

– ‘Probably not’ –

David Parsons, vice president of the International Christian Embassy based in Jerusalem, said he helped draft an earlier version of the embassy legislation while working for a pro-Israel lobbying firm in the United States.

“We have a large, broad movement worldwide that supports Israel on various motivations,” Parsons said of the primarily evangelical Christian embassy.

“Some are motivated by biblical prophecy, but there’s a broad array of views on biblical prophecy.”

Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, said Sunday that Israel has long reached out to US Christian groups for support.

Specifically mentioning evangelicals, Shoval said “we may not agree with everything anybody says about the future of Israel or the future of the country.”

Some evangelicals believe Jews would eventually have to convert to Christianity.

“But we must look at the present situation,” he told journalists.

“The present situation is that there is a very important body of people in America who believe — honestly and genuinely believe — in the future of the Jewish people and its place in the Jewish country in Israel.”

Lewis Richerson, 37, a pastor from Louisiana on the Jerusalem tour, may be among those he had in mind.

His support for Trump’s declaration was “primarily political” since backing Israel in part helps “promote democracy and freedom around the world.”

Richerson said of the declaration: “Is that some type of biblical prophecy? Probably not.”

by Mike Smith

Palestinians to meet to discuss Trump Jerusalem response

January 12, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File / by Nasser Abu Bakr | US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has infuriated the Palestinian leadership

RAMALLAH (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – Senior Palestinian leaders will meet in Ramallah on Sunday to debate responses to US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.Among the options to be considered is the potential suspension of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) recognition of Israel, delegates said.

Such a move could call into question a founding principle of the peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians and threaten decades of agreements with Israel, including on security.

Scepticism is widespread that the leadership will follow through with such an unpredictable step, but the fact that it is being discussed will be taken as a measure of the level of anger towards the Trump administration.

The two-day meeting of the Palestinian Central Council will begin late Sunday, with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas expected to open with a brief address.

The 121-member council is a high-ranking arm of the PLO, the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people, and includes members of different parties.

Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has infuriated the Palestinian leadership, who see at least the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future state they have sought to gain through American-led negotiations.

His administration has also not publicly committed to the idea of an independent Palestinian state, and the PLO office in Washington was briefly closed down.

Abbas has said after the recognition the Americans can no longer play a role as mediator, and is expected to shun Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence when he visits Israel on January 22-23.

– Redefining the relationship –

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior PLO official, told AFP that a committee created to formulate responses to Trump’s announcement would recommend redefining the Palestinian relationship with Israel.

Among the options, he said, was suspending recognition of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of failing to abide by agreements.

“It is not possible for the Palestinian side to remain the only one committed to the agreements signed while the other side (Israel) is not committed to them and has violated them for years,” Majdalani said.

Previous Palestinian threats to suspend security coordination or recognition of Israel have not been carried out.

In 2015 the council voted to end security cooperation with Israel but it was not implemented, with the rulings not binding on Abbas.

The Palestinian leadership signed the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993, formalising its recognition of Israel.

The agreements were supposed to lead to a final settlement — what many envisioned as the creation of an independent Palestinian state — within five years, but they have since broken down.

Majdalani said instead of US-mediated talks they would be looking for a conference led by the United Nations on the future of the peace process.

The agenda of Sunday’s talks includes a review of the situation since Oslo, as well as responses to Trump.

Palestinian Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are not members of the PCC, have been invited, delegates said, but it was unclear if they would attend.

Hamas, which runs Gaza, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and does not recognise it.

Nour Odeh, a Palestinian political analyst, said the Palestinian leadership was seeking to change course.

But she said there were different camps among the leadership.

“One that sees that Trump has ushered in a completely different era and business as usual is no longer possible.

“The other camp is less convinced the world is ready to support us in a way that confronts this administration.

“The debate is about what can we do that won’t leave us alone with our backs against the wall.”

by Nasser Abu Bakr