EU vows to make Jerusalem capital for Palestinians too

A protester holds a picture of Al-Aqsa Mosque during a demonstration near the American Embassy in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 08 December 2017
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EU vows to make Jerusalem capital for Palestinians too

BRUSSELS: The EU’s top diplomat pledged on Thursday to reinvigorate diplomacy with Russia, the US, Jordan and others to ensure Palestinians have a capital in Jerusalem after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital.
The EU, a member of the Middle East Quartet along with the US, the UN and Russia, believes it has a duty to make its voice heard as the Palestinians’ biggest aid donor and Israel’s top trade partner.
“The European Union has a clear and united position. We believe the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states and with Jerusalem as the capital of both,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference.
She said she would meet Jordan’s foreign minister on Friday, while she and EU foreign ministers would discuss Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels on Monday.
“The European Union will engage even more with the parties and with our regional and international partners. We will keep working with the Middle East Quartet, possibly in an enlarged format,” said Mogherini, citing Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as Norway. “We remain convinced that the role of the United States ... is crucial,” she said.
Mogherini, who also spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, threw her weight behind Jordan’s King Abdallah, saying he was “a very wise man” that everyone should listen to as the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Trump’s decision stirred outrage across the Arab and Muslim world and alarm among US allies and Russia because of Jerusalem’s internationally disputed status, and the Palestinian group Hamas urged Palestinians to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel.
Mogherini stressed all 28 EU governments were united on the issue of Jerusalem and seeking a solution envisaging a Palestinian state on land Israel took in a 1967 war, but policy divisions within the bloc have weakened its influence.
“This is the consolidated European Union position,” she said, saying EU foreign ministers made that clear to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday in Brussels.
Hurdles for the EU include its range of positions, ranging from Germany’s strong support for Israel to Sweden’s 2014 decision to officially recognize the state of Palestine.
The EU is also perceived by some in Israel as being too pro-Palestinian, partly because of the EU’s long-held opposition to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, diplomats say.
 


500,000 children face ‘immediate danger’ in Libya capital: UN

Updated 24 min 10 sec ago
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500,000 children face ‘immediate danger’ in Libya capital: UN

TRIPOLI: Half a million children are in “immediate danger” in Libya’s capital Tripoli due to fighting, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF said on Monday.
Clashes that broke out between rival militias in late August had killed at least 115 people and wounded nearly 400 by Saturday night, according to Libya’s health ministry.
UNICEF said more than 1,200 families were displaced in the past 48 hours as the clashes intensified in southern Tripoli before pausing on Monday.
That put the total number of people displaced by the recent fighting at over 25,000, half of whom were children, it said.
The UN agency’s Middle East and North Africa director, Geert Cappelaere, said children were paying a “heavy toll” and were increasingly being recruited by armed groups.
“We see children being prevented from going to school, we see children not having the vaccination that they urgently need,” he said.
Those whose parents came to Libya with the hope of migrating to Europe by sea suffered doubly, said Cappelaere.
“They are already facing dire living conditions, many of them are held in detention,” a situation made worse by “the violence that is happening today,” he said.
UNICEF also said schools are increasingly being used to shelter displaced families, which is likely to delay the start of the academic year beyond October 3.
It said residents are facing food, power and water shortages, adding that the clashes had exacerbated the plight of migrants.
“Hundreds of detained refugees and migrants, including children, were forced to move because of violence. Others are stranded in centers in dire conditions,” Cappelaere said.
Despite a UN-brokered cease-fire on September 4, fighting broke out again last week in southern districts of the capital.
The clashes have pitted armed groups from Tarhuna and Misrata against Tripoli militias nominally controlled by Libya’s UN-backed unity government.
The Libyan capital has been at the center of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising.
The country’s unity government has struggled to exert its control in the face of a multitude of militias and a rival administration based in eastern Libya.