Trump committed to working to de-escalate Gulf tensions

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Reuters)
Updated 06 June 2017
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Trump committed to working to de-escalate Gulf tensions

WASHINGTON: The White House said US President Donald Trump is committed to working to de-escalate tensions in the Guf.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney that the decision would not affect the fight against terrorists and that Washington had urged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.
Meanwhile, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also an adviser to King Salman, met with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah late on Monday during a short visit.
Kuwait’s official news agency said that Prince Khaled delivered a letter from King Salman to the Kuwaiti emir that discussed bilateral ties between the two Gulf countries and the latest regional developments.
Kuwait’s emir urged his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to exercise restraint and refrain from steps that would escalate the situation, according to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).
Sheikh Sabah in a phone call with the Qatari emir hoped Sheikh Tamim would give a chance to efforts aimed at “containing tension in brotherly relations among brothers.”
Kuwait appears to be trying to play a neutral and potentially mediating role between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain. Qatar’s ruler had visited Kuwait’s ruler last week.
Kuwait and Oman have not severed ties with Qatar and have not issued statements about the political standoff.
An Omani Foreign Ministry official arrived in Qatar Monday night. The ministry on Twitter described the visit as planned before the crisis.
In another development, a Somali civil aviation official said at least 15 Qatar Airways flights used Somalia’s airspace since Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations moved to sever links with the Gulf nation.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said that before the Gulf diplomatic crisis erupted, just one or two Qatar Airways planes flew over Somalia each day.
Separately, Iran’s foreign minister spoke with his Qatari counterpart after Monday’s developments.


Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

Palestinians celebrate the resignation of Israel's defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

  • The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM: A knife-wielding Palestinian attacker sneaked into a Jerusalem police station and lightly wounded four police officers before he was shot and captured, Israeli police said on Thursday.

The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip that ended two days of heavy fighting, the area’s most severe violence since the 50-day Gaza war in 2014.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the knife-wielding attacker climbed over the station’s fence late on Wednesday night and began stabbing officers inside. Other officers then shot the assailant and captured him; he was later taken to hospital.

In the two days of heavy fighting, Palestinian militants had fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel, while Israel carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. A rocket fired from Gaza killed a Palestinian laborer in Israel.

The latest round of violence was triggered by a botched Israeli raid on Sunday that left seven Palestinians and a senior Israeli military officer dead. Before the raid, Egyptian and UN mediators had made progress in reducing tensions.

In recent days, Israel had allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of government workers.

The cease-fire led to the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who had demanded a far stronger Israeli response to the Palestinian rocket attack but appeared to have been overruled by Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Resignation

The resignation threw the government into turmoil and pushed the country toward an early election. Netanyahu presented the decision to step back from a full-blown conflict as a unified one made by his Security Cabinet and based on the military’s recommendations. 

But Lieberman and fellow hard-liner Education Minister Naftali Bennett later expressed reservations, saying they favored a stronger response.

Hamas has staged  near-weekly border protests since March in an effort to lift the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group seized control of the coastal strip in 2007.  This has inflicted heavy damage on Gaza, but Hamas remains firmly in power. Demonstrators each week approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. Israeli snipers have killed about 170 people, most of them unarmed.

Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party was demanding to be given the defense portfolio or he would withdraw his eight seats from Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

Another key coalition partner, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon of center-right Kulanu, reportedly told Netanyahu elections should be called as soon as possible because a stable government was needed to keep the economy on track.

Premier Netanyahu’s political popularity is in large part due to his reputation as Israel’s “Mr. Security,” as he has often been dubbed, and he has defended his decision saying: “Our enemies begged for a cease-fire.

“In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he said.