Israel has agreed to end Gaza aggression, says Mursi

Updated 22 November 2012
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Israel has agreed to end Gaza aggression, says Mursi

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Muhammad Mursi said Israel’s “aggression” against Gaza will end on Tuesday and Cairo-mediated efforts will produce “positive results” within hours, the official MENA news agency reported.
“The farce of the Israeli aggression will end today, Tuesday, and the efforts to reach a cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israelis will produce positive results within a few hours,” it quoted him as saying.
A Hamas official said chief Khaled Meshaal and his negotiators were currently in a meeting with the Egyptian intelligence chief mediating the talks. “But it’s no secret we’re on the verge of an agreement,” he said.
He said Hamas was still insisting Israel lift its six-year blockade the Palestinian enclave for a truce, although it was not clear whether the Jewish state has agreed to this.
Israel on Tuesday halted a threatened Gaza ground offensive to give the truce talks a chance, after an overnight meeting of senior Israeli ministers weighed the Egyptian proposal.
Just as Mursi made the announcement, a rocket fired from Gaza struck near Jerusalem. A loud boom was heard in Jerusalem shortly after air raid sirens wailed, with the Israeli police and army saying a rocket had crashed into an open area near Gush Etzion without causing any casualties.
The attack was claimed by Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, which said it had fired “an M75 rocket at the occupied city of Jerusalem.”
Earlier, in a rare statement aired on Hamas television, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades commander Mohammed Deif said that “the enemy will pay a heavy price if it thinks of entering Gaza.”
The warning came after Israel halted a threatened ground offensive to give talks a chance to end the conflict that flared on Wednesday when an Israeli strike killed Deif’s deputy, Ahmed Jaabari, before launching its bombing campaign.
After the first night of the conflict without Palestinian deaths, the toll rose to 116 on Tuesday when another six people were killed, including a 15-year-old boy who was trying to catch birds, medics said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his key ministers took the decision to put off plans for a ground assault at a meeting overnight, a senior official told AFP.
“A decision was taken that for the time being, there is a temporary hold on a ground incursion to give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” he said.
The move came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in Cairo for Egyptian-led talks on a truce, traveled to Jerusalem and urged both sides to stop their fire “immediately.”
The flurry of diplomatic activity will also see US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cutting short a tour of Asia to head to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, and Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi leading a delegation of 12 ministers on a solidarity visit to Gaza.
Israel is looking for a 24- to 48-hour truce as a buffer to work out a more permanent arrangement, with Tuesday’s talks “expected to be decisive,” Haaretz newspaper said.
But it is pressing on with its troop buildup along the Gaza border regardless, said the official.
“If we see that diplomacy does not bear fruit — and the time we’ve given to diplomacy is limited — all the preparations are being undertaken so that if and when the order is given the ground incursion can happen expeditiously,” he said.
Hamas is understood to be seeking guarantees Israel will stop its targeted killings, and end its six-year blockade on the coastal territory home to 1.6 million people.
Analysts say a ground war could draw in other regional powers, including Israel’s arch foe, Iran.
Inside Gaza, where 116 people have been killed and more than 920 injured in the Israeli bombardment, many families have fled their homes in northern Gaza, which has taken the brunt of the air strikes, to seek safe haven in the south.
Since the violence erupted on November 14, Gaza militants have fired more than 1,000 rockets at the Jewish state, killing three people and injuring dozens.
Of those, 715 have crashed into southern Israel and another 359 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The violence comes as Israel heads toward a general election in January, raising the spectre of a broader Israeli military campaign along the lines of its devastating 22-day Operation Cast Lead launched at the end of December 2008.


Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters as he leaves his residence in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday. (REUTERS)
Updated 44 min 14 sec ago
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Erdogan declares victory in Turkish 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: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday declared victory in a tightly-contested presidential election, extending his 15-year grip on power in the face of a revitalized opposition.
Turkish voters had for the first time cast ballots for both president and parliament in the snap polls, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president is the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.
Erdogan was on course to defeat his nearest rival Muharrem Ince with more than half the vote without needing a second round, initial results showed.
“The unofficial results of the elections have become clear. According to these... I have been entrusted by the nation with the task and duties of the presidency,” Erdogan said at his Istanbul residence.
He added that the alliance led by the AKP had won the majority in parliament.
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 figures could yet change as final ballot boxes are opened.
But celebrations were already beginning outside Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul and AKP headquarters in Ankara, with crowds of flag-waving supporters, AFP correspondents said.
Trailing were Meral Aksener of the nationalist (Iyi) Good Party with over seven percent and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) with almost eight percent.
A count of almost over 95 percent for the parliamentary election also showed that Erdogan’s AKP — along with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies — were well ahead and set for an overall majority.
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.
Turnout in the presidential election was almost 88 percent, according to the figures published by Anadolu.

Erdoogan had faced an energetic campaign by Ince, who has rivalled the incumbent’s charisma and crowd-pulling on the campaign trail, as well as a strong opposition alliance in the legislative poll.
Ince vowed to spend the night at the headquarters of Turkey’s election authority in Ankara to ensure a fair count and urged supporters to stay in polling stations until the final vote was counted.
The CHP said it had recorded violations in particular in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, although Erdogan insisted, after voting himself, there was no major problem.
“I will protect your rights. All we want is a fair competition. Have no fear and don’t believe in demoralizing reports,” Ince said after polls closed.
Several world leaders supportive of Erdogan, including Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called to congratulate him on his “victory,” the presidency said.

Erdogan has overseen historic change in Turkey since his Islamic-rooted ruling party first came to power in 2002 after years of secular domination. But critics accuse the Turkish strongman, 64, of trampling on civil liberties and autocratic behavior.
Although Erdogan dominated airtime on a pliant mainstream media, Ince finished his campaign with eye-catching mass rallies, including a mega meeting in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
The president has for the last two years ruled under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of the 2016 failed coup, with tens of thousands arrested in an unprecedented crackdown which cranked up tensions with the West.
Erdogan, whose mastery of political rhetoric is acknowledged even by critics, has won a dozen elections but campaigned against the backdrop of increasing economic woes.
Inflation has zoomed well into double digits — with popular concern over sharp rises in staples like potatoes and onions — while the Turkish lira has lost some 25 percent in value against the US dollar this year.
But the opposition has lambasted the uneven nature of the poll, which saw state-controlled television ignore Ince’s giant rally in Istanbul on the eve of the election.
And in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP’s Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.
After casting his ballot in his jail in the northwestern region of Edirne, Demirtas wrote on Twitter: “I wish that everyone uses their vote for the sake of the future and democracy of the country.”