Arab FMs affirm Jerusalem as future Palestinian capital

Arab foreign ministers are insisting that Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state, even as the US prepares to move its embassy there in a step that has angered the Arab world. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Arab FMs affirm Jerusalem as future Palestinian capital

CAIRO: Arab foreign ministers insisted on Wednesday that Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state, even as the US prepares to move its embassy there in a step that has angered the Arab world.
A ministerial meeting held in the Egyptian capital Cairo brought together foreign ministers from the Arab League member-states. It came amid a wave of anger at US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there, sparking protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the time.
In their final statement, the ministers endorsed a peace plan presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nation Security Council in February and his call for an international peace conference by mid-2018 with the key goals of full UN membership for the state of Palestine and a timeframe for a two-state solution.
The plan calls for mutual recognition by the states of Israel and Palestine based on 1967 borders, and formation of “an international multilateral mechanism” to assist the two parties in resolving all final status issues and implementing them within a set time frame.
“The Arab league has already decided to stand against the negative consequences of the American dangerous and illegal decision of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing the occupied city as a capital of Israel,” said Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit in a televised press conference.
Trump’s declaration departed from decades of US policy and upended longstanding international assurances that the fate of the city would be determined in negotiations.
Most countries around the world have not recognized Israel’s 1967 annexation of east Jerusalem. Under long-standing international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.
Jerusalem’s status is at the core of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement was widely perceived as siding with Israel. It also raised fears of more bloodshed as past crises over Jerusalem have triggered violence.
Israel has considered Jerusalem its capital since the state’s establishment in 1948 and sees the city as the ancient capital of the Jewish people. The Palestinians equally lay claim to Jerusalem and want the eastern part of the city as capital of their future state.


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 24 May 2019
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters