World leaders slam Jerusalem move

A Palestinian woman prays at Al-Aqsa compound. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2017
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World leaders slam Jerusalem move

JEDDAH: Leaders across the Middle East and the rest of the world warned Wednesday of disastrous consequences as US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — a decision that overturns decades of US policy.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” the US leader declared from the White House. “Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said, urging calm and “the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US can no longer play the role of peace broker. “These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” Abbas said after Trump’s announcement.
He said Trump’s move amounted to “an announcement of US withdrawal from playing the role it has been playing in the past decade in sponsoring the peace process.”
Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process “finished.” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met with European diplomats and told them that the US move “will fuel conflict and increase violence in the entire region.”
Turkey slammed the announcement as irresponsible and illegal. “We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration... the decision is against international law and relevant UN resolutions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned after a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdallah that the move would “play into the hands” of terror groups.
Erdogan has already called a summit meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Dec. 13 to discuss the issue.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said that Trump’s announcement did not change the city’s legal status.
Jordan condemned the move as amounting to a violation of international law and the UN charter.
“The decision of the American president … constitutes a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter,” said government spokesman Mohammed Momani.
Mohammed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Egypt’s former vice president who now lives in self-imposed exile, suggested Arabs do have options, including radically reducing the billions of Arab money flowing to America and a radical downsizing of diplomatic, military and intelligence relations with the US.
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, said: “It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace.”
“The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron branded as “regrettable” Trump’s decision, calling for efforts to “avoid violence at all costs.”
“This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Macron told reporters at a news conference in Algiers.
Palestinian resistance group Hamas which controls Gaza said Trump’s move was a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Hamas urged Arabs and Muslims to “undermine the US interests in the region” and to “shun Israel.”
Pope Francis said that maintaining Jerusalem’s status quo was important “in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implicitly criticized Trump’s decision, warning that the city’s status must be resolved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“From day one as secretary-general of the UN, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said.
“Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Guterres said.


Egypt finalizing details of long-term Hamas-Israel truce

Updated 16 August 2018
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Egypt finalizing details of long-term Hamas-Israel truce

  • Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha
  • “We are putting the final touches to the terms of the truce that will be signed by all sides..." the source said

CAIRO: Egypt is finalizing details of a long-term truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security source said on Thursday, amid easing tensions on the border of the enclave where some two million Palestinians live.
Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha feast which starts next week.
“We are putting the final touches to the terms of the truce that will be signed by all sides, and we expect to announce the terms next week if Fatah helps us to do so,” the source said, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s mainstream party which dominates the occupied West Bank.
Officials from Fatah have not joined those of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, and other Palestinian factions for the talks in Cairo on the long-term truce.
But Fatah’s backing is crucial for any deal as the party retains a large presence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has overall control in areas under Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.
“The period of calm will be for one year, during which contacts will be held to extend it for another four years,” the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A long-term truce could pave the way for talks on other issues, including the easing of a blockade that has crippled Gaza’s economy and allowing a possible swap of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.
The source said Egyptian intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, was expected to meet Abbas in Ramallah after similar talks in Israel, and a deal could be announced by next week. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Kamel had met with Netanyahu in Israel this week, but gave no details.
A Palestinian source in Ramallah said Kamel has left without seeing Abbas, who had been preoccupied with a Palestinian leadership conference. But the source said Abbas had informed Egypt that Fatah representatives would join the Cairo talks later this week or next week.
Apart from the opening of its Kerem Shalom commercial crossing into Gaza, Israel also expanded the enclave’s fishing zone, in waters under Israeli naval blockade, from three to nine nautical miles off the southern coast and to six nautical miles in the north, according to the head of Gaza’s fishermen’s union.
The Egyptian security source said the extended truce would also include opening a sea lane from Gaza to Cyprus under Israeli supervision.
A Palestinian official in Gaza familiar with the talks said Palestinian factions were demanding a “total lifting of the blockade on Gaza, opening all crossings with Israel and Egypt and a water corridor.”
Israel says its blockade is a self-defense measure against Hamas, a group that has called for its destruction.
Israel’s security cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, discussed the Gaza situation on Wednesday and an Israeli “diplomatic official” said Hamas would have to prove its commitment to the truce.
As well as wanting calm along the border, Israel has said Hamas must return the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and release two civilians whose fate is unknown. It says they are being held by Hamas in Gaza.
“That’s the only way,” Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said on Thursday when asked if a broad arrangement depended on the return of the soldiers’ bodies.
“Nothing will be done to enable (Gaza’s) significant rehabilitation and the improvement of infrastructure and ports and other such fantasies, unless they release the bodies and the two Israeli captives,” he told Israel radio.
The Egyptian security source said the long-term truce would also envisage Israel freeing hundreds of detained Palestinians in a prisoner swap.
However, the Palestinian official denied any talks were taking place on a swap, saying Hamas opposed mixing the issues.
Egypt has brokered a Palestinian reconciliation agreement that provides for Hamas to cede control of Gaza to Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. A dispute over power-sharing has hindered implementation of the deal, but the Egyptian source said Cairo was still seeking progress on the issue.