Palestinians to raise Trump’s ‘draconian’ policy shift with UK government

Manuel Hassassian
Updated 17 February 2017
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Palestinians to raise Trump’s ‘draconian’ policy shift with UK government

LONDON: A key Palestinian diplomat plans to raise the “draconian” US shift in Mideast policy with the UK government, urging the British to push for a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel.
The US President Donald Trump on Wednesday veered away from the long-established US commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I’m looking at two states and one state,” Trump said ahead of his first official meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”
Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, told Arab News that he plans to raise the shift in policy with the UK government next week.
“We were dismayed, we were surprised (at) this draconian shift in policy… from a position that has been held for more than two decades by the US in promoting a two-state solution,” he said.
Hassassian said he has a meeting scheduled next week with Tobias Ellwood, parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with special responsibility for the Middle East and Africa.
“I will tell (Ellwood) that we would like to see the UK more proactive on the two-state solution, and that what Trump is supporting (with) Israel is going to be detrimental to the entire peace and security of the region,” he said.
Hassassian also plans to request that the UK government urge Trump not to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as has been suggested.
“This act would be cataclysmic on the relations between Palestinians and Israelis,” the diplomat said.
Hassassian also plans to urge the UK government not to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 letter that pledged support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month extended an invitation to Netanyahu to attend the centenary.
“This is an insult to Muslims, Palestinians, Arabs — that you are celebrating the creation of Israel at the expense and the destitution of the Palestinian people,” Hassassian said of the centenary event.
He was speaking to Arab News at the Mission of Palestine in London, which does not enjoy the status of a full embassy given the ongoing disputes over the status of Palestine. Ellwood and the FCO did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Despite his “dismay” at the apparent shift in US policy, Hassassian said he was hopeful that the Palestinians could work well with Trump.
“I said, give (Trump) a chance. We cannot really just make generalizations about him (after) one meeting with Netanyahu, and try to draw the inferences that he’s an enemy of the Palestinians.
“I think he will become more and more pragmatic when he understands the intricate issues… Let’s cultivate our friendship with Trump as Palestinians, and try to give the right signals of peace and the conciliation with the Israelis, that a two-state solution is the best option for both.”
Hassassian pointed to the recent meetings between US and Palestinian security officials, and said it would be right for Trump to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We should be hopeful,” Hassassian said of a possible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “If we lose hope, we pave the way for extremists, and that is a recipe for disaster.”


Jordan ‘discriminatory’ stance on women criticized by rights group

Updated 24 April 2018
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Jordan ‘discriminatory’ stance on women criticized by rights group

  • Jordan violated both international law and its own constitution, which guarantees all Jordanians equality before the law — HRW
  • Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen provide equal rights to women and men to confer citizenship to their children

AMMAN: The global advocacy group Human Rights Watch has criticized Jordan for what it claims is a discriminatory policy toward women over the issue of nationality.

In a report released on Tuesday, the organization said Jordan violated both international law and its own constitution, which guarantees all Jordanians equality before the law.

In spite of progress made by other countries across the Middle East and North Africa to allow women to pass their nationality on to their children, Jordan has no plans to amend its nationality law. 

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen provide equal rights to women and men to confer citizenship to their children. Iraq and Mauritania allow women with foreign husbands to confer nationality to children born in the country.

Jordanian authorities restrict the rights of non-citizen children of Jordanian women to work, own property, travel, enrol in higher education, and access government health care and other services. 

“This is the first comprehensive report that deals with the half measures adopted in 2014 and shows that the government didn’t make any serious change of laws and regulations,” Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for HRW, told Arab News.

In 2014, following domestic pressure, Jordanian authorities appeared ready to recognize non-citizen children of Jordanian women. The Cabinet issued a decision purporting to ease restrictions on their access to employment opportunities, public education, government health care, property ownership, investment and acquiring a driver’s license.

Almost half the Jordanian population are citizens of Palestinian origin, with 2 million registered refugees who are also citizens of Jordan. The report explained the argument used to deny Jordanian women equal rights with men. 

“Given that Jordan is home to one of the largest populations of Palestinian refugees and that the majority of Jordanian women married to foreign nationals are married to non-citizen Palestinian men who hold various legal statuses in Jordan, local politicians and officials’ chief argument against repealing this discriminatory policy is the claim that it would both undermine the effort to secure Palestinian statehood and alter Jordan’s demographic balance,” it said.

Human Rights Watch rejected this justification as discriminatory, saying it was not applied to Jordanian men who chose to marry foreign nationals, most of whom are also married to Palestinians.

“While I am totally for ending the discriminatory policy against Jordanian women, the government should immediately remove all barrier to their children,” Salma Nims, secretary-general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, whose organization was set to host the unveiling of the report, told Arab News.