Abbas to seek wider peace process in UN speech: officials

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will call for an alternative to US-mediated negotiations with Israel during a rare address to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Abbas to seek wider peace process in UN speech: officials

RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will call for an alternative to US-mediated negotiations with Israel during a rare address to the United Nations Security Council, Palestinian officials said Monday.
Addressing the council Tuesday for the first time since 2009, the longtime Palestinian leader is expected to call for multiple international powers to facilitate peace negotiations and again criticize the United States’ controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
President Donald Trump’s December announcement angered the Palestinians, who also consider the city the capital of their future state, and led them to say the US had disqualified itself from its traditional role as lead mediator in talks with Israel.
In a statement ahead of the visit, Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told state media a “new phase of struggle has started” as they seek to protect their claim to Jerusalem.
Senior Palestinian official Nasser Al-Qudwa said on Monday that Abbas would be looking to gain support for a multilateral initiative, but added that the Palestinians would not dictate what shape it would take.
The 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement negotiated by the so-called P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — is seen by many Palestinians as a good example.
“We can live with different formats, the P5, P5+1, expanded Quartet, we can live with an international peace conference,” Qudwa told a news conference in Ramallah.
“Anything that can do the job, provide a reasonable basis for negotiation and follow up the process — sponsor it until it successfully concludes.”
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, is expected to respond to Abbas’s comments.
Israel, which often accuses both the European Union and the United Nations of bias against it, would be reluctant to accept any other mediator than the US.
Palestine is currently a non-member observer state at the UN, but would need a UN Security Council vote to be upgraded to full membership.


Iran confirms death of blogger held on security charges

Updated 42 min 12 sec ago
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Iran confirms death of blogger held on security charges

  • “The political prisoner Vahid Sayyadi Nasiri, on hunger strike since October 13, 2018"

DUBAI: Iranian authorities have confirmed the death of a social media activist jailed on security charges, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Sunday, after Western rights groups said he had died following a 60-day hunger strike in prison.
“The political prisoner Vahid Sayyadi Nasiri, on hunger strike since October 13, 2018 to protest the denial of his right to counsel and inhumane prison conditions..., has died at the Shahid Beheshti Hospital in Qom,” the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said on its website.
ISNA quoted an unidentified source as saying Nasiri had been jailed twice for belonging to a royalist group and planning acts of sabotage including an explosion. He had been taken from prison to a hospital where he died due to a liver disease on Dec. 12, the source said, without referring to a hunger strike.
Mehdi Kaheh, the prosecutor in the city of Qom, earlier said Nasiri had been serving a sentence for “insulting Islamic sanctities” on social media when he fell ill and was taken to hospital where he died, the state broadcaster IRIB reported on its website. Kaheh did not refer to a hunger strike.
Iran, whose officials often warn of efforts by foreign enemies to infiltrate state institutions, has detained scores of journalists and social media activists in recent years, and many others have gone into exile.
In November, Reporters Without Borders said Iran had launched a new crackdown on journalists in which several had been questioned and three arrested in connection with social network posts.
Iran rejects criticism of its human rights record by international human rights bodies as politically motivated and based on a lack of understanding of Islamic laws.