NATO: Patriot deployment to take weeks not months

Updated 30 November 2012
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NATO: Patriot deployment to take weeks not months

BRUSSELS: NATO will deploy Patriot missiles to Turkey’s border with Syria “within several weeks” after the move is approved, officials said Friday.
A team assessing possible sites for the air defense systems is making good progress and is expected to report back to NATO’s military command soon, alliance spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said. This opens the possibility that foreign ministers of the 28 member countries, meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, could make the final decision.
Germany, the Netherlands and the US have the advanced PAC-3 model Patriots that Turkey needs to intercept ballistic missiles. Parliaments in Germany and the Netherlands must also approve the deployment.
“I expect that if the decision is taken it could take several weeks to deploy rather than months,” Lungescu said. “Anyone who thinks of attacking Turkey will think twice.”
Germany’s Cabinet will consider the deployment of German Patriots in Turkey next Thursday if NATO has made a decision by then, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said. After that, the deployment will go to the German Parliament.
Turkey, a NATO member since the early 1950s, is hoping to get about a dozen batteries of Patriots from its allies. Most are expected to come from Germany, joined by some from the Netherlands and perhaps from US stocks in Europe.
Turkey’s air defenses consist mostly of short-range Rapier and Stinger systems, and US-made Hawk low to medium altitude missiles. Ankara has been looking to acquire a new high-altitude defense system to replace its Cold War-era Nike-Hercules batteries.
Syria is reported to have an array of artillery rockets, as well as short- and medium-range missiles in its arsenal — some capable of carrying chemical warheads.
In June, Syrian forces brought down a Turkish reconnaissance plane that further increased tensions between the neighbors. Turkey said the plane was targeted in international airspace, but Syria insisted it was flying over its territory.
Turkey has also been retaliating to shelling and mortar rounds from Syria that have landed on its territory since Oct. 3, when shells from Syria struck a Turkish village near the Syrian border, killing two women and three children. The incident prompted Turkey to convene an emergency NATO meeting and to send tanks and anti-aircraft batteries to the area.


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 23 June 2018
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.