Posts Tagged ‘two-state solution’

Palestinians slam Trump security advisor pick Bolton — Pakistan and Iran also likely angry…

March 23, 2018


© AFP | John Bolton addresses the United Nations Security Council on 14 October 2006, when he was United States Ambassador to the UN

RAMALLAH (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) –  A senior Palestinian official on Friday slammed US President Donald Trump’s choice of hardliner John Bolton as his new national security advisor.Trump on Thursday announced that Bolton, an arch-hawk and former United Nations ambassador, would replace army general HR McMaster.

Bolton is known for his strong support for Israel and hostility to Iran. He has previously said the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead.

“This man has a long history of hostility to Palestinians, dating to when he was at the United Nations, where he was protecting Israeli immunity,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told AFP, referring to US vetoes of UN resolutions targeting Israel.

With Bolton’s appointment, she said, the Trump administration “has joined with extremist Zionists, fundamentalist Christians and white racists”.

“All this will lead to a devastating reality for Palestine and the region.”

In contrast, members of Israel’s government, considered the most rightwing in the country’s history, hailed the appointment.

“President Trump is continuing to appoint true friends of Israel to senior positions. John Bolton stands out among them,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the far-right Jewish Home party.




Top Jewish advocate Ronald Lauder excoriates Israeli policies in rare criticism

March 19, 2018

Times of Israel

March 19, 2018

WJC president says West Bank occupation, Orthodox hegemony are Israel’s ‘self inflicted wounds,’ in New York Times op-ed

World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder on October 13, 2014. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder on October 13, 2014. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

WASHINGTON — Openly breaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said current Israeli government policies threaten Israel’s democratic character and even its existence.

In an op-ed on Monday in the New York Times, Lauder also pressed hard for a two-state solution, significant because the cosmetics billionaire has the ear of US President Donald Trump, who is about to unveil a Middle East peace proposal.

Trump has said he is agnostic about whether two states is the preferred outcome for Israel and the Palestinians and Netanyahu has over the last year retreated from endorsing two states.

Much of the column was an excoriation of Netanyahu’s policy in terms more commonly heard on the pro-Israel left, including the argument that Israel cannot be both a Jewish state and a democracy unless it relinquishes control of the lives of the Palestinians living in the West Bank.

“The Jewish democratic state faces two grave threats that I believe could endanger its very existence,” Lauder wrote.

“The first threat is the possible demise of the two-state solution,” he wrote. “I am conservative and a Republican, and I have supported the Likud party since the 1980s. But the reality is that 13 million people live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And almost half of them are Palestinian.”

Lauder alluded to his closeness to Trump and to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and implicitly chided Netanyahu for his repeated claims that the only thing obstructing peace is Palestinian recalcitrance.

“President Trump and his team are wholly committed to Middle East peace,” Lauder said. “Contrary to news media reports, senior Palestinian leaders are, they have personally told me, ready to begin direct negotiations immediately.”

Lauder also objected to the control that Orthodox in Israel have over a range of issues including marriage and organized prayer at the Western Wall.

“By submitting to the pressures exerted by a minority in Israel, the Jewish state is alienating a large segment of the Jewish people,” he said. “The crisis is especially pronounced among the younger generation, which is predominantly secular.”

Lauder was for decades close to Netanyahu, backing him during his first run for prime minister in 1996 and defending him in Diaspora arenas. Over the last several years, there have been signs that they have grown apart, stemming from Lauder’s refusal, seven years ago, to block a report unflattering to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, that was broadcast on an Israeli television channel in which Lauder had a part ownership stake.

Lauder, chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder cosmetic empire and president of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, has also been one of the most consistent voices of support for Trump in the Jewish community, and the two have been friends since the 1980s, when they both emerged as influential moguls on the New York political and social scenes.


Mr. Lauder’s op-ed in the New York Times)

EU and Norway To Meet in an Effort To Find Funding For Palestinian Aid, Stalled Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

January 29, 2018
 JANUARY 29, 2018 04:12


‘This important meeting aims to bring all parties together to discuss measures to accelerate efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution.’


A MAN STANDS next to a cart carrying a sack of flour distributed by UNRWA in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in January, 2018.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

“In an effort to support the peace process and address the dire situation in Gaza, Norway and the EU will convene an extraordinary session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on January 31 at the ministerial level,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council in New York last week.

“This important meeting aims to bring all parties together to discuss measures to accelerate efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution and to enable the Palestinian Authority to resume full control over Gaza,” he said.

“I call on the parties to work constructively and produce tangible outcomes that support these objectives,” Mladenov added.

The meeting comes as the US has said it plans to halt financial support to the Palestinian Authority and has severely curtailed its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees.


The AHLC was established in 1993 to coordinate development assistance for the Palestinian people. The 15 member body includes the members of the Quartet: the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States.

Other members include Canada, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

It is one of the few high level forums in which Israeli and Palestinian officials cooperatively meet. It often meets twice a year; the last such gathering was held in September in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.


Trump’s Jerusalem move boosts Palestinian support for ‘armed struggle’: poll — Centuries of hatred could also be a factor…

January 25, 2018


© AFP | US President Donald Trump angered Palestinians by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

JERUSALEM (AFP) – US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital led to a spike in Palestinian support for “armed struggle”, a poll suggested Thursday.Nearly twice as many Palestinians said they supported “armed struggle” against Israel compared with an identical survey six months previously, while there was also a fall in support for the two-state solution, the joint Israeli and Palestinian poll found.

The poll of 1,270 Palestinians across east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza was conducted in the days after Trump’s December 6 declaration that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians see at least the east of the city as the capital of their future state, and the announcement set off street protests and diplomatic fury.

Given four options for their preference for the next step for Palestinian-Israeli relations, 38.4 percent of Palestinians favoured waging an armed struggle, the most popular single answer and compared with only 26.2 percent who called for reaching a peace agreement.

The same poll in June found 21 percent support for armed struggle, while 45 percent backed a peace agreement.

Khalil Shikaki, from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and one of the report’s authors, said there had also been significant declines in Palestinian support for a peace process and compromise as well as in the popularity of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the Trump statement was the fundamental cause.”

Dahlia Scheindlin from the Tami Steinmetz Center at Tel Aviv University, another report author, said that she expected the support for militancy could fall in the coming months if tension subsides.

America’s ‘ultimate deal’ for Middle East peace may still fail

January 23, 2018
There has been much speculation over President Donald Trump’s plan to reach an “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians and, until Dec. 6, when the US president announced his infamous decision with regard to Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership was cautiously optimistic over its prospects. But the Jerusalem declaration dashed all hopes and gave the Palestinians, as well as all Arabs, a reality check on where the US administration stands with regard to the classical two-state solution, previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and pertinent UN resolutions on the issues.
And, if we are to believe the leaked report that Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat submitted to the Palestinian Central Council last week, then we now have a first look at the main parameters of the proposed peace plan to be unveiled by the White House in the coming few weeks or months.
The parameters include defining Palestine as a “state minus”, whatever that term means. They also propose giving Israel security control over the Palestinian entity, which is another vague term that could be interpreted to mean an open-ended occupation.
Other parameters make it clear Israel will maintain a permanent presence along the Jordan River, the future of Jerusalem will be determined by the parties and there will be land swaps but not based on the 1967 lines. It is also proposed there will be no settlement evacuation, and that the refugee problem will have a “just solution.”

These are the alleged broad settings that the US peace plan will be based on. And they can only mean one thing: The White House has “borrowed” these terms and conditions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s playbook on resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. In effect, the proposed plan does away with the Oslo agreement and with all previous US positions and commitments, in addition to sidelining UN resolutions and associated international laws on the issue.

With the US’ unilateral decision on Jerusalem in mind and with the latest US move to slash aid to UNRWA still fresh, the above parameters appear to be in sync with the perceptions and convictions of the US administration. As much as the proposed plan gives zero attention to Palestinian rights, which happen to be in line with international law, UN resolutions and the position of the vast majority of countries, it would be foolish to assume that the US can simply force such a humiliating settlement on the Palestinians.
But what is likely to happen is this: The US will present its plan — barring a sudden change in calculations in the White House — and the Palestinians will reject it immediately. Israel will embrace it, with the usual reservations, and will kick-start a series of unilateral moves to implement major portions of the plan. This will include annexing the settlements and imposing military rule over East Jerusalem in order to justify steps to hasten the forced transfer of its Palestinian residents and embark on plans to evict them from villages along the Jordan Valley.
Illegal as all these steps are, Netanyahu and his far-right coalition partners will go even further by passing laws that annex major chunks of the West Bank, while underlining the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. Meanwhile, the US will try to tempt the Palestinians to accept or re-engage in return for substantial aid packages.


While leaked parameters will lead to a scenario that is depressing and infuriating, it is unlikely Israel’s unilateral actions and America’s blind support will be accepted by the Palestinians or the international community.

​Osama Al Sharif

But, as much as this scenario is depressing and infuriating, it does not mean that Israel’s unilateral actions and America’s blind support will be accepted by the Palestinians or the world community. All the plan will do is make the Palestinian cause a top priority among all of the world’s major crises. It will deepen US isolation on this matter and will trigger violent reactions by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It will likely entice European, Asian, Latin American and African countries to recognize the state of Palestine; albeit a state under occupation.

The Palestinian leadership has been cautioned by close Arab allies and European friends not to adopt radical stands — such as rejecting US mediation and withdrawing recognition of Israel — at least until the White House unveils its proposed peace plan. The idea being that quiet behind-the-scenes diplomatic engagement can influence the US and alter its position. International rejection, including by America’s closest allies, of Trump’s unilateral move on Jerusalem has rattled the US administration and may force it to review its stand.
More importantly, perhaps, the crisis over Jerusalem has done a lot of damage to US credibility in the region, and has dampened support for Trump’s mediation efforts. It would be reckless for the US administration not to look back and take world and regional reactions into account. But, if the US ignores its allies and pushes ahead, thus ending all realistic prospects of a two-state solution, then the Palestinians can still derail such plans by changing their strategy and embracing the one-state option and upending Israeli schemes.
Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @plato010

EU ministers, Abbas to study ways to back two-state solution

January 22, 2018

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks during a conference on Jerusalem at the Al-Azhar Conference Center, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP)
BRUSSELS: The European Union’s top diplomat says EU foreign ministers will study ways to support a two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories in talks Monday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Federica Mogherini said that the EU is working “to support an international framework to accompany direct negotiations” despite the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem, which the Palestinians also see as their future capital, broke with international consensus on the best way forward in Middle East peace moves.
Mogherini told reporters that “clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. I would say that this is a very diplomatic euphemism.”
She said “the only pragmatic, realistic solution for Jerusalem has to come through direct negotiations.”


No More Two-state Solution? In Dramatic Meeting, Palestinians Set to Announce New Strategy

January 14, 2018

Palestinian factions to gather in Ramallah to determine how to press ahead in wake of Trump’s Jerusalem declaration

By Jack Khoury Jan 14, 2018 2:40 PM

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, December 22, 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, December 22, 2017 Francois Mori/AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to indicate what course the Palestinians will take – a continuation of the diplomatic process or demanding the implementation a one-state solution – during a dramatic meeting slated to take place in Ramallah on Sunday, Palestinian officials told Haaretz.

The meeting of the Palestinian Central Council is convening against the backdrop of U.S. President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and the unprecedented rift this caused between the Palestinian Authority and Washington.

Sunday’s meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah — seat of the Palestinian Authority government — will be held with representatives from most Palestinian factions but two important organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced that they will not attend, even though they were invited.

Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhum criticized the decision to convene the gathering in Ramallah, saying that it should have been held in a different country to ensure the participation of senior representatives from all the factions.

Despite Hamas and Islamic Jihad shunning the meeting, Salim Zanoun, chairman of the Fatah Central Committee, said over the weekend that at least 90 of the 114 representatives of the council will attend the meeting, and they are expected to approve recommendations and suggestions that are raised.

Haaretz has learned that in discussions that were held over the weekend both by the Fatah Central Committee and by the PLO’s Executive Committee, a slew of suggestions is being considered; among them is the idea of nixing the Oslo Accords and the security coordination on the grounds that Israel has breached all agreements so the Palestinians are not committed to continue and uphold the accords.

Other elements in Fatah and in the PLO are leaning toward the option of continuing international efforts, especially through the United Nations, the European Union, China and Russia in order to advance international recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

According to Fatah officials, the next Palestinian move would be to implement their demand to make the conflict an international issue and demand that the UN set up a team to resolve it. The United States could potentially be a member of such a team, the officials said, but it cannot be the exclusive mediator of the political process.

Haaretz has also learned that over the past several days, European and Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia have been applying pressure on the PA and on Abbas in particular not to take game-changing steps and to enable action on the international and diplomatic fronts.

Abbas is expected to make the opening speech of the meeting on Sunday evening. Palestinian officials who were involved in inside talks over the past several days told Haaretz that Abbas is expected to determine whether the Palestinian leadership will be changing course and strategy on Israel.

They say Abbas is slated to decide whether he will demand the implementation the one-state solution or still adhere to the diplomatic process, but not under the auspices of the White House.

The officials said that at the end of the day, regardless of decisions and recommendations at the meeting, every future move will depend on the will of Abbas and where the PLO’s Executive Committee steers the Palestinians.

Senior officials in the PLO have said that among the recommendations to be introduced at the meeting is the freezing of Palestinian recognition of Israel as long as Israel refuses to acknowledge a Palestinian state along the ‘67 borders.

Another suggestion would be asking the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state along the ‘67 borders as well as define PA lands as a country under occupation. Yet another suggestion was to turn to the International Court of Law in order to start legal proceedings against Israel.

The Palestinian Central Council is an advisory body that meets when it is impossible to convene a parley of the Palestinian National Council (the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization) and is supposed to provide the PLO’s executive committee, which is the highest-ranking Palestinian executive body, with recommendations relating to policy.

The meeting will draw to a close on Monday evening.

A senior member of the PLO’s Executive Committee told Haaretz that despite the dramatic atmosphere Abbas’ associates are trying to create, there is no expectation for game-changing moves.

A senior member of Islamic Jihad, Khader Adnan, said that the participation in the meeting was redundant because its results are known in advance and because he thought Abbas had no intention of breaking entirely with Israel and abandoning the Oslo Accords and their consequences.

Hamas stated that if Abbas really wanted to promote the Palestinian interest he would have to announce the cancellation of the Oslo Accords and the security coordination with Israel as well as change his entire strategy when it comes to the PA’s relationship with the Jewish state.

Jack Khoury
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Buoyed by Pyongyang and Tehran, Trump Tries Bully Tactics on Palestinians

January 3, 2018

It’s hard to resist suspicion that he and Netanyahu are actively engaged in derailing the Palestinian Authority and scuttling the two-state solution

Chemi Shalev Jan 03, 2018 7:16 PM

U.S. President Donald Trump yells to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump yells to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. Bloomberg

The ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” – which isn’t really Chinese – is coming true in front of our very eyes, and on a global scale. When the president of the United States within a matter of hours threatens North Korea with nuclear obliteration, the Palestinians with economic devastation, “Lyin’” Pakistan with cutting off aid and the media with a perverse White House awards ceremony for the most “dishonest and corrupt” journalists, there is no doubt that the world is witnessing a riveting thriller, the likes of which have not been seen before. If this will all end well, atheists will have to reconsider their disbelief in God.

Donald Trump’s latest twitter-rage is a symptom, among other things, of his growing self-confidence. Passing the sweeping GOP tax reform boosted Trump’s standings on the domestic front while the riots in Iran and the conciliatory gestures that have accompanied Kim Jong Un’s threats in Pyongyang cast a positive light on his bellicose international posture. Trump, and not only he, can easily reach the conclusion that the extortionist-bully model of international affairs is seeing results. If Trump can claim credit for the safest aviation year on record even though he had nothing to do with it, he can certainly brag about how his threats have destabilized Iran and weakened North Korean resolve, in which he arguably played some role. For someone like Trump, the feeling that he has once again bested his jaundiced critics is like a shot of adrenaline. It compels him to go farther, to be more brazen, and, if pessimists are right, to turn more dangerous.

And if strong countries such as Iran and North Korea tremble at my roar, Trump will tell himself, who are these pathetic Palestinians, whom the world, especially the Arab world, has almost forgotten? With them, as someone who worships the strong and abuses the weak, Trump is at his most brutal. He not only poked a finger in their eye, now he’s demanding they say thank you as well. After unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without giving the Palestinians anything in return, Trump suddenly tweeted last night that, contrary to his previous statements, Jerusalem was no longer on the bargaining table at all. Then, together with his popular United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Hailey, Trump launched another offensive, threatening Palestinians that if they don’t immediately return to a peace process led by a president who has just humiliated them repeatedly, he will strangle them and them and millions of their refugees by cutting off American assistance to the Palestinian Authority and to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

Trump is keeping only the second half of Teddy Roosevelt’s admonition to talk softly but carry a big stick. He is not only strutting around imperiously with a truncheon in his hands, he is threatening to use it if the world doesn’t behave nicely and his demands are not met. Trump is flouting the international code of conduct that has been in place since the end of World War II, at least in the West, with his public insults, his nuclear ultimatums, his willingness to wave an American ax over any unruly country and in his undisguised and unrepentant pledge to make America first, and everyone else be damned.

In Israel, as well as the United States, many believe that Trump’s is engaging in tough-guy tactics that he or his advisers will be able to control, but in Europe and around the world there is growing concern that Trump isn’t pretending to be a crazy leader as a sort of ploy that political scientists probe but that his brakes may truly not be functioning.

As someone who has devoted his life to making money, Trump views the world through the green prism of the dollar. As someone known for his ruthless and aggressive managerial style, Trump expects total obedience from everyone under him, including legislators, investigators and journalists, and total subservience from those who depend on him for their livelihood, from NATO to UNESCO, from Ramallah to Mexico City. Trump has threatened to cut off American economic oxygen to anyone not doing his bidding, along the lines of the famously anti-Semitic suggestion of High Commissioner Evelyn Barker who told British soldiers in Mandatory Palestine to “hit the Jews in their pockets.” For Trump, this modus operandi is appropriate in U.S. policy toward the entire world, with the possible exceptions of those unique strong leaders that Trump admires, from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, through China Xi Jinping to the murderous strongman of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.

Trump believes the world only understands force, a principle that is doubly applicable to the helpless Palestinians and which is no doubt promoted by American right wingers and Evangelicals and endorsed by their ideological partners in Israel, from Benjamin Netanyahu on down. Perhaps Trump was surprised and embarrassed by the Palestinian decision to retaliate against his Jerusalem move with a diplomatic intifada, which is enjoying international support; in order to repress it, he is now trying to ram the new reality down their throats by threatening to harm the Palestinian government and Palestinian refugees.

Perhaps Trump honestly believes that the specter of economic strangulation will bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, but when one views his latest threats in conjunction with the Knesset laws passed this week that make it harder to negotiate Jerusalem, as well as the Likud’s endorsement of annexation, it’s hard to resist the suspicion that we are seeing a joint trans-Atlantic plot to derail the Palestinian authority and to erase the possibility of a two-state solution now or anytime in the future.

The question is whether Trump’s aggressive posture on the international stage, which is almost diametrically opposite to the one projected by his predecessor Barack Obama, is starting to show results, or whether it is like the man who jumps from a tall building and is asked through a window on the 6th floor how he’s feeling, and he answers “So far, so good.” Trump’s belligerent and slightly out of control dialogue with the world is only effective if it has its limits and as long as it doesn’t spur adversaries to behave in a similarly bellicose way.

If the North Koreans dismantle and the Iranians overthrow and the Palestinians behave nicely, Trump’s way of doing things will be vindicated, at least temporarily. If the opposite happens, if the U.S. gets dragged into escalating confrontations, the nuclear race speeds out of control and the Palestinians disintegrate, rebel or opt for Hamas or ISIS, then everyone will know that Trump’s gamble has failed and that Israel, first and foremost, will pay the price. You can rest assured, however, that both Trump and Netanyahu will pin the blame for the ensuing mayhem on leftists and the media rather than on their own recklessness.

Chemi Shalev
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Israel-Palestine issue: We can count on India for support to two-state solution, says Jordanian Foreign Minister

January 2, 2018
Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, during an interview to “The Hindu” in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: V.V. KRISHNAN

The Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi was in Delhi for bilateral talks ahead of a planned visit by Jordanian King Abdullah II, his first since 2006. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu during his visit, Mr. Safadi says India can play an important role in the Middle East (Israel-Palestine) peace process.

There is a sense that India-Jordanian ties have not kept their promise from a decade ago. Would you agree?

The potential is enormous, and we have not lived up to it. Yes, trade is more than $2 billion, but most of that comes from trade in a few items like potash and phosphate and we would like to diversify. Jordan could be a market and would welcome investment from Indian companies, including in ICT, infrastructure and energy. His Majesty is looking forward to his visit in early 2018, as soon as possible, and we hope to create momentum to put us on a fast track of ties.

You spoke of opportunities, but equally Jordan is in a region in turmoil. Jordan itself houses millions of refugees from Palestine and Syria. How will this change in 2018?

For us, the core issue remains the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and there cannot be peace and stability in the region without a resolution to the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution that would allow an independent sovereign Palestinian state with Occupied (East) Jerusalem as its capital, on the lines of the 1967 situation, and that would allow a peaceful Israel as well. We want every country to support this. India has always had a very clear position in favour of a just, lasting peace, and we encourage India to be more engaged and would like to see more of an Indian role [in the peace process].

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, the government said it was now de-hyphenating its relations with Palestine and Israel. Do you think it can still pay the role, you mentioned, in the peace process?

India has always stood on the side of justice, and that has always helped us in the peace process. The vote at the UN General Assembly [on Jerusalem] was a reaffirmation that India stands by the principles it has held through all these years of conflict. We value India’s role. It is not for us to judge its foreign policy, and India is a great and sovereign country, which will make decisions in the interests of its people. But we know we can count on India’s support for peace and the two-state solution, which is the only path to peace.

At the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Jordan was among the countries that provided shelter, and even training and funding to the ‘moderate opposition’ to the Assad regime. Over time, Daesh (Islamic State) drew its fighters from these very groups. Do you think, at hindsight, it was a mistake to arm and train them?

None of the Daesh fighters was trained in Jordan. Yes, Jordanian fighters did join Daesh, but that is a phenomenon across the world, and especially the Arab and Muslim world. Ultimately Daesh was able to exploit the suffering of the Syrian people and exploit their pain to further its own agenda of hate. It has been seven years now, and all of the need to pause and ask whether we dealt with the crisis in the right manner. Ignorance is Daesh’s best ally, and that is why we need to provide better education, to cleanse our textbooks and public discourse of hate speech. We cannot have double standards. We all must fight a narrative that seeks to create divide on race, religion and gender.

Does that extend to where India sees its threat, i.e. on terror groups based in Pakistan? In striking a balance in the region, would you in Jordan have difficulties bettering ties with India given close ties with Pakistan?

When it comes to terror, we are unequivocal, and we have rejected terror in all its forms. Jordan has also been consistent in calling for all states to resolve their differences and stand up to terrorism, which is the enemy of us all. In terms of India-Pakistan relations, Jordan has good relations with both countries, and what we would like to see is the two countries being able to resolve their differences and build a peace that Indian people and Pakistani people deserve.

Two years ago, India objected to the U.S. decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan, citing its support to terror groups that target India. Subsequently, Pakistan sought second-hand F-16s from Jordan. Has India raised this with you?

I am not aware of this, and I have no comment on the issue. We have good ties with both countries [India and Pakistan] and we would like to build on those ties.

Israel ruling party votes for push to annex West Bank

December 31, 2017


© AFP/File | An Israeli soldier looks towards Palestinian protestors during clashes in the West Bank village of Madama December 28, 2017, just days before the central committee of Israel’s Likud Party voted for a resolution in favor of annexing the West Bank

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The central committee of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party on Sunday voted for a resolution urging Likud parliamentarians to push to annex the occupied West Bank.The non-binding vote by the party’s decision-making committee called on its MPs “to spread Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)”.

Netanyahu, who is a member of the central committee, was not present for the vote.

The prime minister says he still supports a two-state solution with the Palestinians, although he has also pushed for Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation for 50 years.

In October, Netanyahu decided to postpone a vote on a controversial bill that critics say would amount to the de facto annexation of Israeli settlements surrounding Jerusalem.

The bill had been expected to be voted on by a ministerial committee in a move that would fast-track its progress through parliament.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law and widely seen as the main obstacle to peace.

More than 600,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem among 2.9 million Palestinians, with frequent outbreaks of violence.

Likud’s central committee counts around 3,700 members, and according to Israeli media some 1,500 were present for Sunday’s vote.