Emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israeli aggression

Palestinian relatives mourn over the death of 29-years-old Yussef al-Fassih during his funeral after he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers the day before, in Khan Yunis on June 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2018
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Emergency UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israeli aggression

  • At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30
  • The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly will hold an emergency meeting next Wednesday at 3 p.m. to vote on an Arab-backed resolution on Gaza, the body’s President Miroslav Lajcak announced Friday.

The resolution will condemn Israel, and will be similar to one vetoed by the US in the Security Council last week, which called for protecting Palestinians from Israeli aggression, according to diplomats.
It comes as four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border on Friday, as weeks of deadly clashes with protesters continued.
There are no vetoes in the 193-member world body, but while Security Council resolutions are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions are not.
“We will work next week to get the maximum number of votes,” a diplomat from a country that supported the measure told AFP.
Arab countries turned to the General Assembly in December after the US vetoed a Security Council vote on a resolution to condemn its decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

December resolution
Fourteen members of the Security Council backed the December resolution, though the US as well as the council’s four other permanent members retain a right to veto.
The measure then received 128 votes out of 193 in the General Assembly.
A diplomatic source said the emergency meeting had been pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League.
Several European countries have tried to dissuade Palestinians and Arab countries from demanding a vote in the General Assembly after last week’s US veto.
“Everyone told them not to do it,” said a diplomat on condition of anonymity, arguing the resolution could be counterproductive if it doesn’t receive at least as many votes as the one obtained in December on Jerusalem.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, condemned the planned resolution.
“It is unfortunate that instead of condemning the terrorists of Hamas, some countries are looking to satisfy their domestic political needs by bashing Israel at the United Nations,” Danon said in a statement.
It is not entirely clear what form of protection the Palestinians of Gaza are seeking, from observers to a full blown peacekeeping force.
Arab states have recently turned to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make proposals on this matter. But according to a diplomat who asked for anonymity, he said he needed a mandate from the Security Council to look further into the issue.
On Friday, four Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers near the border fence during new clash-ridden protests in the blockaded enclave.
At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests broke out along the Gaza border on March 30. There have been no Israeli casualties.
Protests peaked on May 14 when at least 61 Palestinians were killed in protests to coincide with the controversial opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem

Crippling blockade
The Jewish state maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Critics say it amount to collective punishment of the territory’s two million residents.
The resolution expected to be put to a vote also demands that Israel refrain from the use of excessive force and “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas.” It calls for an immediate cease-fire.
The Palestinians are also strongly backing an investigation into events in Gaza by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and a separate General Assembly investigation, said Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour.
“We are mobilizing all of our efforts with as many as we can reach from groups and member states to receive the largest number of votes possible to support us,” Mansour said.


Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

Updated 27 June 2019
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Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

  • Mnuchin confident of raising the first $4 billion soon

MANAMA: Jared Kushner’s “workshop” aimed at securing economic prosperity for Palestine closed with optimistic forecasts from President Donald Trump’s special adviser that it could be the basis for a forthcoming political deal with Israel.

Kushner told journalists at a post-event briefing: “I think that people are all leaving very energized, very pleasantly surprised at how many like-minded people they see. It is a solvable problem economically, and the reason why we thought it was important to lay out the economic vision before we lay out the political vision is because we feel we need people to see what the future can look like.

“The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true. We want to show them that this is the plan, this is what can happen if there is a peace deal.”

The next stage, before a political deal is attempted, will be to get feedback from the event and agree to commitments for the $50 billion package for Palestine and other regional economies.

“I think you need $50 billion to really do this the right way, to get a paradigm shift,” Kushner added.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I could not be happier how this has gone,” adding that he was “highly confident we will soon have the first $4 billion. It’s going to be like a hot initial public offering.”

Most of the attendees at the event in Manama, Bahrain, gave Kushner’s economic proposals a serious hearing and agreed it was a useful exercise. Mohammed Al-Shaikh, Saudi minister of state, said: “Can it be done? Yes it can, because it was done before. In the mid-1990s to about the year 2000 there was a global coordinated effort by the US and other countries. I was at the World Bank at the time. I saw it. If we could do it then with significantly less money we can do it again.”

Others warned, however, that there was still a long way to go on the political aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Middle East peace envoy, said a political deal was essential.

“This is an economic plan that, if it is implemented, is going to do enormous good for the Palestinian people. But it isn’t a substitute for the politics. There will be no economic peace. There will be a peace that will be a political component and an economic component. The economy can help the politics and the politics is necessary for the economy to flourish.

“The politics has got to be right in this sense as well. The obvious sense people talk about is how do you negotiate the contours of the boundaries of a Palestinian state in a two state solution,” Blair said.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, highlighted the work the fund has done in conflict situations. “We had an exceptional result in Rwanda, and a good economic outcome in Mozambique,” she said. But she contrasted this with disappointing results in other African conflicts.

Lagarde said that the aim of the economic plan should be to create jobs. “The focus should be on job-intensive industries, like agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.”

Willem Buiter, special economic adviser to US banking giant Citi, said there were obstacles to the Kushner plan succeeding. “Necessary conditions for any progress are peace, safety and security. And there must be high-quality governance and the rule of law in Palestine,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jared Kushner believes the conflict is a ‘solvable problem economically.’

• The senior adviser vows to lay out political plans at the right time.

• Expert urges external funding in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans.

He also suggested external funding should be in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans. “We should not burden a country trying to escape from its past with high debts,” he added.

Some attendees warned of the risks to investor funds in the current political situation in the Middle East. 

But Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Risk is not new to the region. We’ve tackled it for the past 30 to 40 years, but that has not stopped investment flowing in.

“Investors trade risk for return, and the Middle East has learned to cope with risk and conflict. There are pockets where the risk is high and Palestine is one of them. But I remain positive. The return in the region is higher to compensate for the risk,” he added.

At a session of regional finance ministers, Mohammed Al-Jadaan of Saudi Arabia said: “The region is in desperate need of prosperity and hope. There is a way forward, but you need political commitment.”

UAE Finance Minister Obaid Al-Tayer added: “We are decoupling politics from economics. If it’s the only initiative on the table we should all give it a chance.”