Trump tells Israel peace means compromise; US envoy under fire

In this file photo, US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, US. (Reuters)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Trump tells Israel peace means compromise; US envoy under fire

JERUSALEM: US President Donald Trump told Israel on Friday that it too would need to make “significant compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, even as they accused one of his Middle East envoys of bogging down diplomacy with what they see as pro-Israel bias.
The Palestinians were outraged by Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a move overturning decades of US reticence on the city’s status, and say they are looking at additional world powers as potential mediators.
In an interview with an Israeli newspaper that was excerpted ahead of its full publication on Sunday, Trump described his Jerusalem move as a “high point” of his first year in office.
The language of Trump’s announcement did not rule out a presence in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city — captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally — as their own capital.
“I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Regarding specific borders, I will grant my support to what the two sides agree between themselves,” he told the conservative Israel Hayom daily, in remarks published in Hebrew.
“I think that both sides will have to make significant compromises in order for achieving a peace deal to be possible,” Trump added, without elaborating.
The interview coincided with fresh strains between the Palestinians and the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, following the killing by a Palestinian of a Jewish settler.
After the settler was stabbed to death on Monday, Friedman tweeted that he had previously donated an ambulance to the slain man’s community and that he was praying for the next-of-kin, adding: “Palestinian ‘leaders’ have praised the killer.”
That drew a rebuke from the Palestinian administration.
“The American ambassador’s statements make us wonder about his relationship with the occupation,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement. “Is he representing America or Israel?“
“Friedman’s recommendations and advice, which do not aim to achieve a just peace on the basis of international legitimacy, are what led to this crisis in American-Palestinian relations,” Abu Rdainah said.
Friedman, among the top Trump advisers who promoted the Jerusalem move, is a former contributor to settler causes.
In addition to East Jerusalem, Palestinians want the occupied West Bank for a future state and see Israel’s Jewish settlements there as a major obstacle. Israel disputes this.
Most world powers deem the settlements illegal, but the Trump administration has taken a softer tack.
A liberal Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, published a column criticizing Friedman’s stance and dubbing the settlement he had supported as “a mountain of curses” — a play on its Hebrew name, Har Bracha, which means “Mount Blessing.”
The ambassador took the unusual step of firing back at the daily in another tweet on Friday: “Four young children are sitting shiva (Jewish mourning rite) for their murdered father .... Have they (Haaretz) no decency?“
Haaretz’s publisher, Amos Shocken, responded over the platform with a critique that echoed Palestinian complaints.
“As long as the policy of Israel that your Government and yourself support is obstructing (the) peace process ... there will be more Shivas,” Shocken tweeted.


Melania Trump planning solo international tour of Africa

Updated 20 August 2018
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Melania Trump planning solo international tour of Africa

  • Mrs. Trump plans to travel without President Donald Trump
  • Exact dates for the trip and which African countries she will visit remain to be announced

WASHINGTON: Melania Trump is planning her first big solo international swing with a trip through several African countries in October.
The first lady told The Associated Press in a written statement Monday that she’s looking forward to learning about the issues that children living on the continent face, as well as appreciating Africa’s history and culture. She recently launched a US-based effort focused on the well-being of children.
Mrs. Trump plans to travel without President Donald Trump, who was roundly criticized earlier this year after his private comment about “shithole countries” in Africa was leaked to journalists.
Exact dates for the trip and which African countries she will visit remain to be announced.
“This will be my first time traveling to Africa and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,” the first lady said in the statement. “We are a global society and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another.”
She added that she also looks forward to highlighting successful humanitarian work and development programs underway in the African countries.
Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said the first lady chose Africa as the destination for her first big solo international trip after she learned about some of the development programs that are underway in many of its countries. Those programs include investments by the US in children’s health and education, Grisham said.
The swing through Africa will be the farthest Mrs. Trump has traveled on her own since becoming first lady in January 2017.
Her only other solo international trip came last September, when she flew to Toronto for a day and joined Britain’s Prince Harry for an Olympic-style athletic competition he established for wounded service members and veterans.
Mrs. Trump has accompanied the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Brussels, France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Finland, for his recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Due to medical restrictions placed on her travel following kidney surgery in May, she did not accompany Trump to Singapore for his one-on-one meeting in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.