Arab FMs reject unilateral steps that ‘jeopardize legal status of Jerusalem’

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A photo taken on March 27, 2017 shows a general view of the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers during the 28th Summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, south of the Jordanian capital Amman, with the Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit (C-L) and chair Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi (C) seated in the centre. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers during the 28th Summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, south the Jordanian capital Amman, on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2017
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Arab FMs reject unilateral steps that ‘jeopardize legal status of Jerusalem’

THE DEAD SEA, Jordan: The Council of Arab Foreign Ministers on Monday approved 17 draft resolutions, including the rejection of unilateral steps that “jeopardize the historic and legal status” of Jerusalem. The draft will be presented to Arab leaders at their summit on Wednesday.
It followed an announcement by Jason Greenblatt, US envoy to the Middle East, that he looks forward to attending the Arab Summit as an observer “to discuss how best to work together against extremism and toward peace and prosperity.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi said at a press conference held at the Dead Sea resort that all draft resolutions submitted by the Arab League’s permanent representatives to the Arab League had been agreed upon.
Al-Safadi said the draft agenda prepared by the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers included 17 resolutions addressing all current Arab issues.
In response to a question about the possibility of transferring the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Al-Safadi said that Arabs have repeatedly stressed the need to establish a just and lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis in accordance with international covenants and resolutions, and within the two-state solution to ensure an independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian national territory with East Jerusalem as its capital. Al-Safadi also said Arab foreign ministers rejected unilateral steps that “jeopardize the historic and legal status” of Jerusalem.
This was an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s previously stated intentions to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians seek a capital in east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Al-Safadi said the resolution is one of “about 17” to be adopted later this week at the gathering of Arab heads of state. He said the ministers also reaffirmed the need to establish a state of Palestine alongside Israel.
Meanwhile, US envoy Greenblatt tweeted: “The US president believes peace between Israelis and Palestinians might be possible and that the time has come to make a deal and I believe that such a peace agreement will reverberate positively throughout the region and the world.”
Last month, Greenblatt met with senior Palestinian and Israeli officials, during which he reaffirmed the US commitment to achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

Updated 18 December 2018
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US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

  • James Jeffrey said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war
  • Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay

WASHINGTON: The US said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is “fundamentally different.”

James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.

“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change —  we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.

“There is a strong readiness on the part of Western nations not to ante up money for that disaster unless we have some kind of idea that the government is ready to compromise and thus not create yet another horror in the years ahead,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama had called for Assad to go, although he doubted the wisdom of a robust US intervention in the complex Syrian war. and kept a narrow military goal of defeating the Daesh extremist group.

President Donald Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in October that the US would not provide “one single dollar” for Syria’s reconstruction if Iran stays.

Jeffrey also called for the ouster of Iranian forces, whose presence is strongly opposed by neighboring Israel, although he said the US accepted that Tehran would maintain some diplomatic role in the country.

Jeffrey also said that the US wanted a Syria that does not wage chemical weapons attacks or torture its own citizens.

He acknowledged, however, that the US may not find an ally anytime soon in Syria, saying: “It doesn’t have to be a regime that we Americans would embrace as, say, qualifying to join the European Union if the European Union would take Middle Eastern countries.”