Arabs seek recognition for Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital

A handout photo released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on January 6, 2018, shows Jordan's King Abdullah II meeting with (from L to R) UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in the capital Amman. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2018
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Arabs seek recognition for Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital

JEDDAH: Arab foreign ministers on Saturday stressed that peace in the Middle East is impossible without addressing the Palestinian cause on the basis of a two-state resolution with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.
“The Arab League will seek international recognition of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital after Washington recognized the holy city as Israel’s capital,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced at a joint news conference with Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit following talks in Amman on Jerusalem’s status, also attended by the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.
“There is a political decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and we will strive to reach an international political decision to recognize a Palestinian state with (East) Jerusalem as its capital,” Safadi said.
He added that the Arab states would work collectively with the international community to secure international recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, adding that the meeting was also used to agree on steps to ensure no other country recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“We reiterated that no peace or security can be achieved in the Middle East without the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and in accordance with all relevant international references,” Safadi said, stressing that peace is the only way to resolve the Palestinian cause, being the only strategic option to meet the legitimate and rightful demands of the Palestinian people.
US President Donald Trump reversed decades of American policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, threatening Middle East peace efforts and angering the Arab world and the US’ Western allies alike. Trump’s controversial decision sparked protests in several countries and was rejected in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters following a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart that Saudi Arabia stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their bid for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, reiterating the Kingdom’s rejection of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia has always been a strong supporter of legitimate Palestinian demands, stressing that addressing the Palestinian and the Arab Israeli struggle on the basis of a two-state solution is key to regional peace in the Middle East.
“Arab efforts have succeeded in isolating the US decision, citing the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly votes, adding that these efforts will continue to deter any effort aiming at undermining the status of Jerusalem,” Abul Gheit said.
He added that the Arab League’s foreign ministers will reconvene at the end of this month when Palestine briefs the group on what has been achieved so far with regard to their efforts to counter the US decision and the illegal Israeli measures to change the status of Jerusalem.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 and later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
Earlier on Saturday, Jordan’s King Abdullah met the ministers and said: “the question of Jerusalem must be resolved within the framework of a just and lasting peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.”


Militants kidnap Christian in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

Police pursued the kidnappers into the desert to which they fled after the incident. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Militants kidnap Christian in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

  • The attack took place about 30 km west of El-Arish

CAIRO: Extremist militants on Thursday kidnapped a Christian man traveling in a taxi in the turbulent north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to security officials, an incident that raises the specter of renewed attacks on minority Christians in the region after a two-year lull.

The officials did not identify the man, but said police pursued the kidnappers into the desert to which they fled after the incident, killing one of them and wounding two others in a firefight, but could not free the hostage. Two policemen were also wounded in the firefight, said the officials.

There was no word on whether any of the other passengers traveling in the taxi, a minibus, were harmed, suggesting that the kidnapping of the Christian man could have been planned. 

The attack took place about 30 km west of El-Arish, northern Sinai’s largest city, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

A spate of attacks on Christians in northern Sinai in late 2016 and early 2017 forced nearly 300 families to flee their homes there and find refuge elsewhere in Egypt. 

Those killed included a cleric, workers, a doctor and a merchant. The last Christian to be killed in Sinai was in January 2018, when militants gunned him down as he walked on the street in El-Arish.

The militants, now led by Daesh, say they are punishing the Christians for their support of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christians, whose ancient church is the country’s predominant Christian denomination, is a close ally of El-Sisi, who has made sectarian harmony a cornerstone of his domestic policy. 

El-Sisi’s patronage of the community has given Christians a measure of protection but did little to protect them from radicals, particularly in regions south of Cairo where Christians are a sizable minority.

Since 2016, Daesh militants have killed more than 100 Christians in attacks targeting churches and buses carrying pilgrims to remote desert monasteries. 

Also on Thursday, according to the officials, suspected militants sneaked into the parking lot of the main hospital in the city of Rafah on the Sinai border with the Gaza Strip and torched two vehicles before escaping. 

The incident was the latest in a recent spate of violent incidents in Rafah, most of whose residents have been evicted and compensated over the past year to deny the militants hiding places.

Nearly a year ago, the government threw into the battle against the Sinai militants thousands of troops, heavy armor, helicopter gunships and jet fighters in a bid to end the insurgency. 

The operation has significantly reduced the number of attacks and restored a near total normal life in El-Arish, on the Mediterranean coast.