EU dismayed by Israeli settlements

Updated 11 December 2012
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EU dismayed by Israeli settlements

BRUSSELS: The EU is “deeply dismayed” by Israel’s plans for new West Bank settlements, which threaten peace efforts that instead should be revived, according to a draft prepared for foreign ministers yesterday.
The so-called E1 project that calls for the construction of new settler homes in a strip of West Bank land outside Jerusalem has fueled a major diplomatic backlash, with experts warning it could wipe out hopes of establishing a viable Palestinian state.
“The European Union is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and in particular plans to develop the E1 area,” said a draft of the conclusions on the Middle East peace process at a one-day meeting in Brussels.
The E1 plan, “if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict” as it would question the viability of the two-state settlement central to the peace process.
On the day it collected the Nobel Peace Prize, the EU “reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace,” it added.
The draft said that in view of recent developments, which include an unprecedented UN upgrade of the Palestinians’ diplomatic status, the EU believed it was now time to take “bold and concrete steps toward peace.” To this end, both sides must “engage in direct and substantial negotiations without pre-conditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims.” The EU also called on the Palestinian leadership to use the UN upgrade constructively and not take steps, which would “deepen the lack of trust and lead further away from a negotiated solution.”
Peace talks

Meanwhile, Palestinians are looking to reactivate peace talks with Israel with the aim of resolving all final status issues within six months, a senior official said yesterday Speaking to the official Voice of Palestine radio, negotiator Saeb Erakat said “a new stage” had been reached after the Palestinians successfully won non-member status at the United Nations.
“After the UN resolution... a new stage has certainly started,” he said, speaking a day after Arab League ministers met in Doha, Qatar.
The historic UN vote on November 29 had convinced the Arab world that “the peace process, and its references and involved parties including the (Middle East) Quartet, should be reconsidered,” he said.
By the end of December, a Palestinian committee would work up action plans after which it would travel to the five permanent UN Security Council members — Britain, France, Russia, China and the US — to see “whether there is a chance for the peace process and on which principles it should held.”
“The first principle is that the goal of the peace process — according to all previously signed agreements and international law — is the withdrawal of Israel to the June 4, 1967 borderline, including Jerusalem,” he said.
“The second principle is related to the necessity of re-launching negotiations from the point they were halted, which means they should not start from scratch like Netanyahu wants them to be.
“The third principle is to set a six-month time-table for the negotiations to reach an agreement over all final status issues,” he said.
“Settlement activity should be halted during this period of time and Palestinian prisoners should be released in accordance with previously signed agreements and not as preconditions.” According to a statement on the Doha talks published by the official WAFA news agency, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas proposed “a mechanism setting a six month deadline during which settlements would be halted and Israel would enter into negotiations on what was agreed” — namely, the 1967 borders as a basis for a peace deal.
Before the start of talks in 2010, Israel observed a 10-month freeze on new West Bank construction, but has refused repeated requests to renew it, dismissing it as an unacceptable “precondition” for talks, although the Palestinians say it is an “obligation” under international law.


Erdogan proclaimed winner of Turkey’s presidential election

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters as he leaves his residence in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 June 2018
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Erdogan proclaimed winner of Turkey’s presidential election

  • Erdogan has just under 53 percent in the presidential poll while Ince, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), was on 31 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 96 percent vote count
  • The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was polling 11 percent, well over the 10 percent minimum threshold needed to win 46 seats, which would make it the second largest opposition party in the new chamber

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey’s landmark election Sunday, the country’s electoral commission said, ushering in a new system granting the president sweeping new powers which critics say will cement what they call a one-man rule.
The presidential and parliamentary elections, held more than a year early, complete NATO-member Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary system of government to a presidential one in a process started with a referendum last year.
“The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul after a near-complete count carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency gave him the majority needed to avoid a runoff.
Speaking early Monday, Supreme Election Council head Sadi Guven said 97.7 of votes had been counted and declared Erdogan the winner.
Guven said that based on unofficial results, five parties passed the threshold of 10 percent of votes required for parties to enter parliament.
Cheering Erdogan supporters waving Turkish flags gathered outside the president’s official residence in Istanbul, chanting, “Here’s the president, here’s the commander.”
“Justice has been served!” said Cihan Yigici, an Erdogan supporter in the crowd.
Thousands of jubilant supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, also spilled into the streets of the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir after unofficial results from Anadolu showed the party coming in third with 11.5 percent of the legislative vote — surpassing the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament.
The HDP’s performance was a particular success since presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, eight more of its lawmakers and thousands of party members campaigned from jails and prisons. HDP says more than 350 of its election workers have been detained since April 28.
The imprisoned Demirtas, who has been jailed pending trial on terrorism-related charges he has called trumped-up and politically motivated, was in third place in the presidential race with 8.3 percent of the vote, according to Anadolu.
Revelers waved HDP flags and blared car horns. One party supporter, Nejdet Erke, said he had been “waiting for this emotion” since morning.
Erdogan insisted the expanded powers of the Turkish presidency will bring prosperity and stability to the country, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016. A state of emergency imposed after the coup remains in place.
Some 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 civil servants have been fired under the emergency, which opposition lawmakers say Erdogan has used to stifle dissent.
The new system of government abolished the office of prime minister and empowers the president to take over an executive branch and form the government. He will appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.
The Turkish Parliament will legislate and have the right to ratify or reject the budget. With Erdogan remaining at the helm of his party, a loyal parliamentary majority could reduce checks and balances on his power unless the opposition can wield an effective challenge.
The president’s critics have warned that Erdogan’s re-election would cement his already firm grip on power and embolden a leader they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies.
Erdogan’s apparent win comes at a critical time for Turkey. He recently has led a high-stakes foreign affairs gamble, cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin with pledges to install a Russian missile defense system in the NATO-member country.
Ince said the results carried on Anadolu misrepresented the official vote count by the country’s electoral board. The main opposition party that nominated him for the presidency, the CHP, said it was waiting for an official announcement from the country’s electoral board.
Erdogan also declared victory for the People’s Alliance, an electoral coalition between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the small Nationalist Movement Party, saying they had secured a “parliamentary majority” in the 600-member assembly.
The unofficial results for the parliamentary election showed Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, losing its majority, with 293 seats in the 600-seat legislature. However, the small nationalist party the AKP allied with garnered 49 seats.
“Even though we could not reach out goal in parliament, God willing we will be working to solve that with all our efforts in the People’s Alliance,” Erdogan said.
The president, who has never lost an election and has been in power since 2003, initially as prime minister, had faced a more robust, united opposition than ever before. Opposition candidates had vowed to return Turkey to a parliamentary democracy with strong checks and balances and have decried what they call Erdogan’s “one-man rule.”
A combative president, Erdogan enjoys considerable support in the conservative and pious heartland, having empowered previously disenfranchised groups. From a modest background himself, he presided over an infrastructure boom that modernized Turkey and lifted many out of poverty while also raising Islam’s profile, for instance by lifting a ban on Islamic headscarves in schools and public offices.
But critics say he has become increasingly autocratic and intolerant of dissent. The election campaign was heavily skewed in his favor, with opposition candidates struggling to get their speeches aired on television in a country where Erdogan directly or indirectly controls most of the media.
Ince, a 54-year-old former physics teacher, was backed by the center-left opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP. He wooed crowds with an unexpectedly engaging campaign, drawing massive numbers at his rallies in Turkey’s three main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including 3 million expatriates, were eligible to vote.