Netanyahu sees Europeans following Trump on Jerusalem

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini brief the media at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium Dec. 11, 2017. (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)
Updated 11 December 2017
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Netanyahu sees Europeans following Trump on Jerusalem

BRUSSELS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that recognizing Jerusalem as his country’s capital “makes peace possible,” after widespread international criticism of the US decision to do so.
US President Donald Trump’s announcement last week has been followed by days of protests and clashes in the Palestinian territories, as well as demonstrations across the Islamic world.
The EU expressed alarm at the decision, which upends seven decades of US policy on the disputed holy city, and the bloc’s foreign ministers are set to urge Netanyahu to resume dialogue with the Palestinians as he meets them over breakfast in Brussels.
The Israeli premier said what Trump had done was to “put facts squarely on the table” by acknowledging Jerusalem had been the capital of the Israeli state for 70 years and of the Jewish people for 3,000 years.
“It doesn’t obviate peace, it makes peace possible, because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, it’s the foundation of peace,” he said in a statement alongside EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.
Mogherini, who last week warned the Jerusalem decision could take the situation “backwards to even darker times,” restated the EU’s position that a two-state solution with Jerusalem as capital for both Israelis and Palestinians was the only sustainable way to resolve the conflict.
Netanyahu pointed to a new US peace initiative as a possible way forward.
“There is now an effort under way to bring forward a new peace proposal by the American administration. I think we should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace,” he said.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working with a small team to develop a new US proposal to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but it is not clear what progress he is making.
Netanyahu’s visit to Brussels comes after he met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Sunday. Macron called on him to freeze settlement building and to re-engage with Palestinians.
Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and previous peace plans have stumbled over debates on whether and how to divide sovereignty or oversee holy sites.


Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

  • “Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said
  • The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday

JEDDAH: Truce monitoring observers will be deployed in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday as the first 24 hours of a UN-brokered cease-fire passed without incident.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee comprises members of the Yemeni government supported by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militias backed by Iran, and is overseen by the UN. 

The head of the committee will report to the UN Security Council every week.

Deployment of the observers is the latest stage in a peace deal reached after talks last week in Sweden. Both sides in the conflict agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of their forces within 21 days.

“Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said on Tuesday.

Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

UN envoy Martin Griffith said the committee was expected to start its work swiftly “to translate the momentum built up in Sweden into achievements on the ground.”

The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday. Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. 

“We are hopeful that things will go back to the way they were and that there will be no aggression, no airstrikes and lasting security,” said one, Amani Mohammed.

Another resident, Mohammed Al-Saikel, said he was optimistic the cease-fire would pave the way for a broader truce. “We are hopeful about this cease-fire in Hodeidah and one for Yemen in general,” he said. “We will reach out in peace to whoever does the same.”

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor the cease-fire.

The resolution, submitted by the UK, “calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.”