Guatemala faces Arab, Muslim boycott after Jerusalem announcement: PLO

A Palestinian protester covering his face with a keffiyeh stands near burning tires during clashes with Israeli soldiers near the Huwara checkpoint, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Palestinians are protesting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2017

Guatemala faces Arab, Muslim boycott after Jerusalem announcement: PLO

AMMAN: Guatemala could soon face a cardamom boycott from Arab and Muslim countries, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Wednesday.
The boycott threat follows Guatemala’s announcement on Monday that it will follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
According to the PLO, Guatemala exports annually $300 million worth of cardamom to Arab and Muslim-majority countries. Cardamom is a major ingredient in Arabic dishes and coffee.
“We’ll be conducting an overall assessment of all our alliances, and will evaluate our relations based on mutual interests, with a clear eye as to who is genuinely supporting the cause of peace in Palestine and who is against our national interests,” Anees Sweidan, head of external relations at the PLO, told Arab News.
Former Guatemalan Vice President Edward Stein has warned of the negative repercussions of a boycott on some 45,000 cardamom farmers in his country.
The Guatemala Export Association sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry calling on the president to rescind his Jerusalem decision, the PLO said.
A deputy Israeli minister on Monday said his country is in touch with at least 10 others over the possible transfer of their embassies to Jerusalem after the US recognized the city as Israel’s capital. He did not name the countries.
The PLO has urged the Arab League to initiate an economic boycott against every country that moves its embassy to Jerusalem. Such a boycott forced Guatemala to reverse a similar decision in the 1990s.
The Palestinian government on Wednesday praised the 129 countries that voted against America’s Jerusalem announcement at the UN General Assembly and urged countries that voted in favor to review their positions.
The government praised South Africa for its decision to downgrade its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, and said Guatemala’s announcement “is contrary to international law and the decisions of the international community,” and puts the country “on the wrong side of history and international law.”
The Arab League on Wednesday said a meeting of Arab foreign ministers will take place in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 6.

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 4 min 40 sec ago

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.