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.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.