Nasr Hariri to head unified Syrian opposition at Geneva

In this March 3, 2017 photo, Nasr al-Hariri, the leader of Syria's main opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, gives a press conference after a round of negotiation with UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (AP)
Updated 25 November 2017
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Nasr Hariri to head unified Syrian opposition at Geneva

RIYADH: Syria’s main opposition group selected Nasr Hariri to head the negotiating team at a new round of UN-backed peace talks with the Damascus regime in Geneva next week, a spokesman said on Friday.
Hamid Al-Mahameed, Jamaal Sulaiman, Hanadi Abu Yaarob and Ala’a Arafat will be Hariri’s deputies. The negotiation body comprises 36 members, representing all sections of the opposition.
Feras Al-Khalidi, a leading opposition figure, stuck by the demand that President Bashar Assad play no role in an interim period. “The participants stressed that the transition cannot happen without the departure of Assad and his clique at the start of the interim period,” he said.
He added: “I make it clear that … we shall go to Geneva without any preconditions. The political transition needs a safe environment and that cannot be possible with Assad’s presence.”
The opposition groups met to seek a unified position ahead of talks after two years of Russian military intervention that has helped Assad’s regime recapture all of Syria’s main cities.
“There was consensus between the various groups to choose him (Hariri) as head of the Higher Negotiations Committee to lead the opposition delegation in the coming Geneva talks,” said Ahmad Ramadan, spokesman for the Istanbul-based Syrian National Coalition.
UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura, preparing for the next round of Geneva talks, met on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said Moscow was working with Riyadh to unify the Syrian opposition.
Basma Kodmani, a Syrian academic and former spokesperson of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said: “We have agreed with the two other opposition branches to send a united delegation to participate in the direct negotiations in Geneva.”
The UN-brokered talks will take place in Geneva on Nov. 28.


Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza

Updated 21 October 2018
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Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza

  • Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as fears of a new war rose
  • Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army

JERUSALEM: Israel ordered the country’s goods and people border crossings with Gaza to be opened on Sunday, just four days after shuttering them following a Palestinian rocket attack that sparked retaliatory strikes.
“The decision comes after a decrease in the violent events in Gaza over the weekend and efforts (militant Islamist Gaza rulers) Hamas made to restrain” demonstrators, a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman office read.
On Wednesday, Lieberman had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, after a rocket from the Palestinian territory hit a home in southern Israel, prompting the Jewish state to strike 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as fears of a new war rose.
Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army.
On Friday, thousands again gathered for protests in northern Gaza, but demonstrators largely remained at least 100 meters (yards) from the border.
Hamas officials were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.
Israel had on Wednesday also suspended the delivery of fuel for the Palestinian territory’s power plant that had been trucked daily into Gaza under a deal brokered by the United Nations.
“The decision on the renewal of the fuel from Qatar has been put off as for the time being, and will be examined in a number of days based on the events,” the Sunday statement from Lieberman said.