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.


Russia to send modern missile defense systems to Syria

Updated 19 min 59 sec ago
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Russia to send modern missile defense systems to Syria

MOSCOW: Moscow will bolster Syria's air defence following the downing of a Russian plane last week by sending a modern S-300 system to the Syrian army within two weeks, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday.
In a televised statement, Shoigu said the decision to "transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks" was taken by President Vladimir Putin and is one of the "response measures" following the downing of a Russian plane with 15 troops on board which Moscow blamed on the Israeli air force.