Several options to kick-start Mideast peace talks: Palestinian UN envoy

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Several options to kick-start Mideast peace talks: Palestinian UN envoy

UNITED NATIONS: A collective Middle East peace process could be led by the UN Security Council, a “Quartet” expanded to include China and Arab states or an international conference, the Palestinian UN envoy said on Thursday, all options involving the United States.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour laid out the possibilities after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month said he would only accept a broad, internationally backed panel to broker peace talks with Israel.
“We’re saying a collective approach involving several players at minimum would have a better chance of succeeding than the approach of only one country that is so close to Israel,” Mansour told reporters.
The Palestinians are furious at US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and cut to US funding for the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Mansour said a collective peace process could “be in the format of the (UN) Security Council, that would be something that we will look at seriously.”
“The Quartet plus China plus the League of Arab States plus maybe others ... we could also look at that. Or the collective process might be of the nature of the French Paris conference or international conference,” he said.
The so-called Quartet sponsoring the stalled peace process comprises the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union, while in January last year France invited dozens of countries to Paris to show support for a peace process.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abbas plan to discuss a possible new mediation mechanism to replace the Middle East Quartet when they meet next week, the Interfax news agency said on Wednesday, citing a Palestinian diplomat in Russia.
Abbas is due to address the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 20 during the body’s monthly meeting on the Middle East.
Trump has said his administration had a peace proposal in the works. Mansour said the United States had given no indication of what the peace plan might be.
“But of course if they started with Jerusalem is off the table and punishing UNRWA ... what is left on the table?” Mansour said. “They lost the neutrality that is required of any broker that helps two parties to reach a peace treaty.”
“The old approach failed, and we’re looking for a new approach,” he said.


Turkey orders detention of 144 over Gulen links

Updated 2 min 6 sec ago
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Turkey orders detention of 144 over Gulen links

ISTANBUL: The Istanbul chief prosecutor said on Friday it had ordered the detention of 126 suspects employed in the judicial system with alleged links to the network of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who Turkey says orchestrated a July 2016 coup attempt.
About 250 people were killed in the failed putsch, in which Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, has denied involvement. Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.
Turkey says that along with its military and state institutions, its judiciary was infiltrated by members of Gulen’s network. Since the coup, thousands of prosecutors and judges have been dismissed.
The prosecutor’s office said the suspects had lived in houses where the network trained individuals for work in the judicial system. The network then sought to place those who passed the exam in the judicial system as prosecutors or judges, while the rest became part of the network’s lawyer organization.
Of the 126 suspects, 108 were lawyers on active duty, eight were judge or prosecutor candidates who were previously removed from their positions and one was a judge or prosecutor candidate on active duty, the prosecutor’s office said.
Addresses of 12 of the suspects could not be determined or records showed they had left the country, it said, adding that operations spread over 37 provinces to detain the remaining 114 people were continuing.
In a separate operation on Friday, Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the detention of 18 suspects accused of links to Gulen who were working as engineers for the defense industry company Havelsan.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the coup and widespread arrests are still routine. Authorities have suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel.
Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, with Erdogan’s critics accusing him of using the putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkish authorities say the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.