Erdogan’s ‘wise’ step to help Kurd peace talks

Updated 05 April 2013
0

Erdogan’s ‘wise’ step to help Kurd peace talks

ANKARA: Turkey said yesterday it has set up a consultative body of "wise people" to help shape public opinion on the latest peace process with Kurdish rebels.
The initiative, which involves an array of figures including popular actors and singers, follows a cease-fire call last month by jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The group of "well-respected people whose common ground is democracy and freedoms" is due to have its first meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters.
The 63-member group is being asked to inform people across Turkey about the budding peace process aimed at ending the outlawed PKK's 29-year armed campaign for self-rule that has killed some 45,000 people, mostly Kurds.
Among the "wise people" are journalists, academics, business people and rights activists, as well as some popular actors and singers.
Ocalan called on March 21 for PKK fighters to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil in a breakthrough announcement after months of secret negotiations from his isolated jail cell with the Turkish intelligence agency.
Pro-Kurdish lawmakers have repeatedly said a binding parliamentary committee was needed to oversee the fragile process, but Erdogan has rejected the idea.
Previous attempts at ending the insurgency were crippled after splinter groups within the PKK torpedoed efforts or Ankara backtracked because of opposition from nationalist groups.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
0

Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.