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.


Taliban kill 30 policemen in west Afghan province

Updated 57 min 27 sec ago
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Taliban kill 30 policemen in west Afghan province

  • It is the latest in a series of brutal and near-daily Taliban assaults on the military and police forces
  • The attacks have been so relentless that authorities no longer regularly provide casualty figures

KABUL: A blistering overnight attack by the Taliban on an Afghan police outpost in western Farah province killed 30 policemen, Afghan officials said Thursday.
It was the latest in a series of brutal and near-daily Taliban assaults on the military and police forces, government and other installations throughout the country. The resurgent Taliban, who in recent years have taken over nearly half of Afghanistan, did not comment on the attack in Farah.
The attacks have been so relentless that authorities no longer regularly provide casualty figures, but unofficial estimates say that about 45 Afghan policemen or soldiers are killed or wounded on a daily basis.
According to provincial council member Dadullah Qani, the overnight onslaught on the outpost in Farah’s district of Khaki Safed began late on Wednesday and continued for more than four hours.
In Kabul, lawmaker Samiullah Samim told The Associated Press that the Taliban killed all 30 policemen — members of both the national and local police force — who were deployed at the outpost, including the district police commander, Abdul Jabhar.
Retaliatory airstrikes killed 17 Taliban fighters but the insurgents still managed to get away with a large amount of weapons and ammunition, he said.
Meanwhile, fighting with the Taliban in two districts of central Ghazni province has displaced thousands of people in the past two weeks, most of them minority ethnic Hazaras, who are Shiites, said Mohammad Arif Rahmani, a lawmaker from Ghazni.
Also, about 100 Afghan policemen, local pro-government militiamen and soldiers have been killed in the bitter clashes there, Rahmani told the AP. Currently, Afghan security forces are battling insurgents in 22 of the country’s 34 provinces, he added.
Afghanistan’s protracted war has also become increasingly deadly for civilians. A United Nations report issued earlier this year said more civilians died in the first six months of 2018 than in any year since 2009, when the UN mission first began monitoring civilian casualties.
“Every day in the first six months of 2018, an average of nine civilians, including two children, were killed in the conflict in Afghanistan,” said the independent Afghanistan Analysts Network in its own report.
Security forces at outposts throughout the country routinely face shortages of weapons, ammunition and even food supplies, said military analyst Javed Kohistani, blaming government mismanagement.
More senior and experienced generals have been replaced with younger officers whose inexperience is compromising the strength of the security forces.
There are fewer and fewer recruits and in some areas, a battalion which should have 400 to 600 troops barely has 100 to 200 soldiers, he said.
“Nobody is joining the army,” he said.
Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Gen. Tariq Shah Bahrami was grilled by lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday about Taliban onslaughts in Wardak and Ghazni provinces where entire districts are under siege.
Bahrami acknowledged the security forces have a “problem” and said that reinforcements have been sent.