Turkey to open ‘embassy to Palestine in Jerusalem’: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the awards ceremony for National Employment Mobilisation as part of an Employment Council meeting in Ankara, in this December 14, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Turkey to open ‘embassy to Palestine in Jerusalem’: Erdogan

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope on Sunday that Turkey would soon be able to open an embassy to a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, as he stepped up his attacks on Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as the Israeli capital.
Erdogan has sought to lead Islamic condemnation of his US counterpart’s move, calling a summit of the leaders of Muslim nations last week in Istanbul who urged the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after it seized control of the area in the 1967 war, in a move never recognized by the international community.
“Because it is under occupation we can’t just go there and open an embassy,” Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling party in the city of Karaman.
“But, God willing those days are near and... we will officially open our embassy there,” he said, without giving any precise timescale.
Turkey currently has a general consulate in Jerusalem. Ankara has full diplomatic ties with Israel, and like other nations, its embassy is in Tel Aviv.
Erdogan again slammed Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there, saying it smacked of a “Zionist and evangelist logic and understanding.”
He said Jews had no right to “appropriate” Jerusalem which was the “capital of Muslims.”
“Please stop where you are and don’t attempt any Zionist operation,” he said. “If you try, then the price is going to be high.”

Erdogan hailed the outcome of the December 13 summit which he said showed the “world a vote of unity.”
However the meeting was overshadowed by the level of attendance from close US allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who sent lower-level officials rather than leaders.
Erdogan had warned Muslims, in a speech earlier this weekend, against “internecine warfare,” saying fighting with each other “only helps terror states like Israel.”
Israel has reacted relatively cooly to Erdogan’s repeated broadsides over the last days, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “not impressed” by statements made at the summit.
Contacted by AFP, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson declined to comment on Erdogan’s latest remarks.

Protests which have been taking place almost daily in Turkey against Trump’s move continued at the weekend.
In the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir, thousands of people turned out Sunday, waving Palestinian flags and brandishing slogans like “the massacres will not stop if all Muslims are not together.”
In a separate speech also Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that “from now on we declare that occupied East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” adding Turkey wanted to see a solution for Jerusalem that satisfied both sides in the conflict.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin — a key foreign policy adviser of the president — wrote in a newspaper article that Trump’s move represented “a toxic mix of populism and unilateralism.”
But he wrote in Daily Sabah that one positive consequence was that the issue of the Palestinians was again at the center of global debate.
“This new momentum should now be utilized to find a fair and lasting peace,” Kalin said.
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, particularly over a planned gas pipeline in talks spearheaded by Erdogan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.
But Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, has kept up his verbal attacks on Israel’s policies.


Pay raise not enough for Egypt’s angry civil servants

Updated 22 min 37 sec ago
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Pay raise not enough for Egypt’s angry civil servants

  • The recent austerity measures are part of an economic reform program designed to meet the terms of a three-year $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2016
  • Gasoline prices have risen by an average of about 34 percent

CAIRO: Egyptian civil servants have warned the government that increases in their salaries will not help them avoid the devastating impact of tough new austerity measures.
Earlier this month the national Parliament approved a draft law giving state employees a 7 percent raise in their basic earnings and an additional irregular bonus of 10 percent.
But while civil servants welcomed the increases, they told Arab News that huge rises in the prices of essential commodities including fuel, electricity, piped drinking water and public transport will still leave them struggling to make ends meet.
One 45-year-old who works at a government notary office in Cairo and requested anonymity said, “It’s better than nothing but definitely still not enough. It can help alleviate the effects of just one item out of the many items of which the state has decided to increase the cost.
“For example, I can now bear the additional costs of drinking water but what about electricity, what about transportation, what about everything else?”
The recent austerity measures are part of an economic reform program designed to meet the terms of a three-year $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2016.
In recent weeks, the authorities have increased metro fares by up to 250 percent and the price of cooking gas from 60 Egyptian pounds to 100 Egyptian pounds ($3.3 to $5.6) per cylinder. The cost of piped drinking water has risen by up to 45 percent and electricity by 26 percent. Gasoline prices have risen by an average of about 34 percent.
Abdel-Rahman, a government employee who refused to give his full name, told Arab news: “I earn 1,200 pounds and I have three children. The salary increases they usually announce every year barely make any difference.
“My salary needs to be at least doubled if I’m to survive such dire economic conditions. Life has become too hard and the few pounds they throw at us every year are almost useless.”
Egypt is not the only Middle Eastern country to face a public backlash over a tough austerity program. In January, demonstrations erupted across Tunisia after the IMF told the government there that it needed to take “urgent action” to reduce its deficit.
Earlier this month protesters in Jordan forced the Prime Minister Hani Mulki to resign and King Abdullah to roll back a fuel-price increase in an attempt to quell some of the worst civil unrest the country has seen in years.