US plans Middle East peace push after ‘cooling off’ over Jerusalem

An Israeli policeman scuffles with a Palestinian man during a demonstration in a street in East Jerusalem on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 16 December 2017
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US plans Middle East peace push after ‘cooling off’ over Jerusalem

WASHINGTON: The White House is to renew efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, officials said Friday, despite outrage over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Senior administration officials said efforts to push the process forward will be rekindled as soon as next week, in the hope that anger at Trump’s move will subside.
Trump on Dec, 6 announced a break with decades of American policy, effectively ignoring Palestinian claims on the Holy City.
The decision has sparked almost universal diplomatic condemnation and deadly protests in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — 82 years old and facing the prospect of entering the history books as the leader who “lost Jerusalem” — took the dramatic move of canceling a planned meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
The vice president is due to arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday, although he is not slated to meet Palestinian leaders.
“We understand that the Palestinians may need a bit of a cooling off period, that’s fine,” said one senior administration official.
The White House hopes that Pence’s visit can begin to draw a line under the issue.
“Obviously the last couple of weeks in the region have been a reaction to the Jerusalem decision,” said a second senior administration official. “We’ve seen a lot of the emotion that has been displayed on that.”
“This trip is kind of part of the ending of that chapter and the beginning of the next chapter... We still continue to be focused on a peace process and how we ultimately bring that situation to a conclusion.”
The vice president will be joined in Israel by Trump’s chief peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt, who has not met his Palestinian interlocutors since Dec. 6.
“We will be ready when the Palestinians are ready to reengage,” said the first official.
But hopes for a quick resumption of peace talks may prove optimistic. On Friday alone, four Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded in violence with Israeli forces across the Palestinian territories.
Trump’s move has called into question whether the US can serve as a fair arbiter, a role it has played for much of the last half century.
Trump came to office claiming he could make “the ultimate deal,” but that effort now risks being derailed by his own actions.
“We aren’t setting any kind of deadlines or timeframes. There’s one thing I’m sure of in this job, is that any deadline we set, we will blow past,” said a US official.


Abu Dhabi opens world’s first digital courtroom

Updated 31 min 14 sec ago
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Abu Dhabi opens world’s first digital courtroom

  • “Technology and innovation have been disrupting every aspect of our lives and the judiciary sector is no exception,” said ADGM Courts' Ahmad Al Sayegh
  • The digital courtroom, which will not make use of paper in the entire process, is seen to save all parties time and money

DUBAI: An online platform where both plaintiffs and respondents can settle disputes without going to an actual court has been launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE state-news agency WAM reported.

The digital platform was launched by the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts (ADGM courts). which are independent courts that handle civil and commercial disputes, to streamline the judiciary process.

“Technology and innovation have been disrupting every aspect of our lives and the judiciary sector is no exception. The best innovations to come out of this sector are those that allow us to creatively manage the growing demand for transparency, information, speed and effectiveness,” said Ahmad Al Sayegh, Minister of State and Chairman of the ADGM Courts.

In the new system, both plaintiffs and respondents will be able to upload documents through an online portal, wherein all involved parties, as well as the judges and lawyers will have access to.

The digital courtroom, which will not make use of paper in the entire process, is seen to save all parties time and money.

Linda Fitz Alan, registrar and chief executive of ADGM Courts said the parties would not be required to be physically present during a hearing.

“We can do the court hearing by video conferencing, not every party has to be present in the courtroom. In fact, everybody can be on a screen if that’s the most efficient way,” she said.

Alan said only the judge needs to be present in the courtroom, “for anyone else — the lawyer, plaintiff and respondent — if there’s no particular need for it, they can all be on screen in different places,” she added.