Mahmoud Abbas to demand EU recognize Palestinian state: Senior official

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (AP)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Mahmoud Abbas to demand EU recognize Palestinian state: Senior official

BRUSSELS: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas will ask the EU to officially recognize the state of Palestine when he meets foreign ministers from the bloc on Monday, a senior official told AFP Sunday.
Palestinian foreign minister Riad Al-Malki said Abbas will tell the EU it should take the step “as a way to respond” to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Abbas will also “reiterate his commitment to the peace process” in the Middle East, Malki said in an interview with AFP in Brussels.
A week ago Abbas denounced Trump’s efforts to resolve the long-running conflict as the “slap of the century” and caused alarm by saying Israel had sunk the so-called Oslo accords that underpin the stalled peace process.
“Since Trump’s decision has altered the rules of the game, he (Abbas) expects the European foreign ministers to come forward and collectively recognize the state of Palestine as a way to respond back to Trump’s decision,” Malki said.
Abbas’s talks in Brussels come as US Vice President Mike Pence visits Israel during a tour of the Middle East with Arab anger still smoldering over Washington’s hugely contentious decision on Jerusalem.
Abbas and the Palestinian leadership are refusing to meet Pence because of the declaration, making his visit a rare one by a high-ranking US official not to include talks with the Palestinians.

Abbas will urge the EU to take on a bigger role in trying to move peace efforts forward, declaring American “exclusivity and monopoly” in the process is over, Malki said.
“If the Europeans want to be a player then they have to be fair in their treatment of both parties and this should start with the recognition of the state of Palestine,” Malki said.
Abbas will meet EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers on Monday on the sidelines of their monthly meeting, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a similar visit last month.
Diplomats and officials in Brussels say recognition for Palestine is not on the cards on Monday — the EU leaves recognition in the hands of individual members — and the best Abbas can hope for is progress toward an “association agreement” with the bloc.
Malki told AFP that while the Palestinian Authority was “very serious” about such an agreement, they also expected to be formally recognized as a state.
“One does not replace the other. Absolutely not,” he said.
Despite Abbas’s comments on the Oslo accord and his insistence that the United States can no longer serve as mediator, Malki said he was still committed to the peace process — effectively frozen since 2014.
“He wants to reiterate his commitment to the peace process. He’s going to say I’m not going to withdraw from the peace process, I will stay committed,” Malki told AFP.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working for months with a small team to develop a new US proposal to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but no details or even news of progress have emerged.
A senior EU official said Friday the bloc “believes a plan is in the making” but is still in the dark about “the content of this plan or the parameters.”
Malki said it was “very clear to us we should not wait until the Americans present their plan.”
“The Americans should understand that the Palestinians, the Arabs, everybody, will not accept an American plan that does not include Jerusalem, that does not include settlements, that does not include refugees,” Malki said.

 


US rejects Turkey’s offer to release pastor

Defiant Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whipped up nationalism at a party rally in Ankara. (AFP)
Updated 19 min 22 sec ago
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US rejects Turkey’s offer to release pastor

  • The assailants fired six bullets at an embassy security gate from a passing white vehicle around 5.30 a.m. local time (0230 GMT)
  • The lira has tumbled some 40 percent this year, hit by worries about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s administration has rejected Turkey’s offer to condition the release of an American pastor on clearing a top Turkish bank of billions of dollars in US fines, media reported on Monday.
Washington and Ankara are locked in a bitter feud over the nearly two-year jailing of Andrew Brunson over disputed terror charges, which has triggered a trade row and sent the lira into a tailspin.
In exchange for Brunson’s release, and that of other US citizens as well as three Turkish nationals working for the US government, Turkey asked Washington to drop a probe into Halkbank, which is facing possible fines for helping Iran evade US sanctions.
But the US said that discussions regarding the fines and other areas of dispute between the two countries were off the table until Brunson was released, a White House official told the Wall Street Journal.
“A real NATO ally wouldn’t have arrested Brunson in the first place,” the unnamed official said.
Trump has said he had doubled the tariffs on aluminum and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several US products.

Court blow
A court has rejected another appeal to free Brunson and Turkey has threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions.
The lira has tumbled some 40 percent this year, hit by worries about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and a worsening diplomatic rift with the US. The sell-off has spread to other emerging market currencies and global stocks in recent weeks.
Responding to the recent currency sell-off in stark religious and nationalist terms, Erdogan said an attack on Turkey’s economy was no different from a strike against its flag or the Islamic call to prayer.
In a pre-recorded address to mark the four-day Eid Al-Adha festival, a defiant Erdogan said the aim of the currency crisis was to bring “Turkey and its people to their knees.”
“The attack on our economy has absolutely no difference from attacks on our call to prayer and our flag. The goal is the same. The goal is to bring Turkey and the Turkish people to their knees — to take it prisoner,” Erdogan said in the televised address.
“Those who think they can make Turkey give in with the exchange rate will soon see that they are mistaken.”
Erdogan stopped short of directly naming any countries or institutions, but he has, in the past, blamed a shadowy “interest rate lobby,” Western ratings agencies and financiers.
Meanwhile, Turkish authorities detained two men suspected of shooting at the US Embassy in Ankara.
Nobody was hurt in Monday’s attack, which President Erdogan’s spokesman condemned as an attempt “to create chaos.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had increased security for the embassy and other US missions and employees in Turkey.
The assailants fired six bullets at an embassy security gate from a passing white vehicle around 5.30 a.m. local time (0230 GMT), three bullets hitting an iron door and a window, the Ankara governor’s office said.
The office issued another statement on Monday evening saying two men in their late 30s had been detained and a vehicle and pistol seized and that the men had confessed to the shooting.
It said both suspects had criminal records and their links were being investigated.
Video footage from broadcaster Haberturk showed police teams inspecting one of the entrances to the embassy and apparent damage caused by a gunshot could be seen in one window. It said empty cartridges were found at the scene.