Palestinian President Abbas refuses to work with US on peace efforts

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a press conference at the Elysee Palace on Friday, December 22. Abbas met Macron a day after the UN General Assembly resolution denouncing President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. (AP)
Updated 22 December 2017
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Palestinian President Abbas refuses to work with US on peace efforts

PARIS: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday urged France and Europe to play a stronger role in peace efforts, insisting he’ll no longer accept any US plans for Mideast peace because of the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Abbas met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris a day after the UN General Assembly resolution denouncing President Donald Trump’s decision.
During a news conference, Macron was careful not to take sides, saying “the American mistake was to want to unilaterally manage from afar a situation whose solution is in the hands of the Israelis and Palestinians.”
Abbas said the United States is “no longer an honest mediator in the peace process.”
“We will not accept any plan from the United States of America because of its bias and violation of the international law,” he said.
Abbas also denounced the US threat to cut financial aid for countries who voted to back the UN resolution. “We call upon countries that did not recognize Palestine yet to do so to preserve the two-state solution before it’s too late,” he added.
Macron reaffirmed his disapproval of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The French president recalled he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in Paris and urged him to make “courageous gestures” to help revive peace talks, including freezing Israel’s construction of settlements on occupied lands.
EU leaders, including Macron, have reiterated support for establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions in favor of the non-binding resolution countering the US recognition of Jerusalem.


Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

  • Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt
  • A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump

ISTANBUL: The lira weakened against the dollar on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump said he would give Turkey no concessions in return for the release of a detained American pastor, the latest salvo in a worsening rift between the NATO allies.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump criticized Ankara over the detention of the evangelical Christian pastor, Andrew Brunson, and said he was not concerned that his tough stance against Turkey could end up hurting European and emerging market economies.
Brunson, who is originally from North Carolina and has lived in Turkey for two decades, has been detained for 21 months on terrorism charges, which he denies. The pastor has become an unwitting flashpoint for the diplomatic tension, which has accelerated the crisis in the lira.
Trump said that, after he helped persuade Israel to free a detained Turkish citizen, he thought Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would then release Brunson.
“I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” Trump said.
The lira weakened to 6.0925 against the US currency by 1111 GMT, from a close of 6.0865 on Monday, when Turkish markets began a holiday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha festival that continues for the rest of this week.
Trade was thinner than usual and probably mainly offshore, with local markets closed for the holiday. The currency has lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year. However, selling on Tuesday was limited due to a broadly weaker dollar.
Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of a nationalist party allied with Erdogan’s AK Party, told reporters: “We have no business with those who love Brunson more than us.”

Prayers and gifts
Erdogan, who had been expected to speak to reporters after morning prayers, made no public statement.
He has repeatedly cast the currency crisis as an attack on Turkey but has stopped short of singling out any one country.
He prayed on Tuesday morning at a mosque near the tourist resort of Marmaris on the south coast and then handed out gifts to local children, the Milliyet newspaper reported.
He also spoke by phone to soldiers stationed near the border with Iraq, sending them greetings for Eid Al-Adha.
“I believe that as long as you stand tall our flag will not fall, our call to prayer will not fall silent and this homeland of ours will not be divided,” the Hurriyet newspaper reported him as saying.
On Monday, he appealed to Turks’ religious and patriotic feelings ahead of the holiday, promising they would not be brought “to their knees” by the economic crisis.
Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt, but Washington has balked at this.
A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump. The US president — who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters — has said he would double previously announced tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports.
On Monday Turkey initiated a dispute complaint with the World Trade Organization over the tariffs.
Separately, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday that tight liquidity amplified risks for Turkish companies.
Another ratings agency, DBRS, said European banks with Turkey exposure face a manageable capital impact.
Underlining the increased diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the US, the US Embassy in Ankara came under gunfire on Monday. Nobody was injured and Turkish authorities later detained two men over the incident.