Saudi Foreign Minister reasserts the Kingdom's eagerness to unify Arab stance, revamping Arab League

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Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (L) speaks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir during a League meeting at its headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on September 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit looks on during the opening of Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, Egypt September 11, 2018. (Reuters)
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Pierre Krahenbuhl (C), Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), attends a meeting of the Arab League Foreign Ministers at the League’s headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on September 11, 2018, during a special session on the sidelines discussing the financial crisis of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)’s caused by the US scrapping its contributions. (AFP)
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This picture taken on September 11, 2018 shows a general view of the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP)
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This picture taken on September 11, 2018 shows a general view of a meeting of the Arab League Foreign Ministers at its headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, during a special session on the sidelines discussing the financial crisis of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)’s caused by the US scrapping its contributions.(AFP)
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A special session on the crisis facing UNRWA. (SPA)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Saudi Foreign Minister reasserts the Kingdom's eagerness to unify Arab stance, revamping Arab League

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir emphasized in Cairo on Tuesday, during the opening of the 150th ordinary session of the Arab League (AL) Council, that the Kingdom remains keen to unify the Arab stance, promote the performance of the AL and revamp a Pan-Arab joint action system.
The Palestinian cause is the top priority and interest for Saudi Arabia, which endeavors to secure the Palestinian people their legitimate rights based on the Arab Peace Initiative: International legitimacy resolutions calling for establishing its independent state, with East Al-Quds as its capital, he pointed out, reiterating absolute rejection of anything that may compromise the historical or legal status of Al-Quds.
On Yemen, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom is keeping to its commitment toward Yemeni unity, sovereignty, stability, security and territorial integrity, through backing the legitimate government and reiterating readiness to cooperate with the UN envoy to Yemen.
Iran-affiliated Houthis militias have never and will never positively respond to the international community’s calls to engage in the political process, he said, pointing out their absence at the latest meeting, held in Geneva.
He stressed that coalition countries will continue to cooperate with the UN and other relief agencies, to ensure humanitarian access to the civilians in Yemen and alleviate their suffering.
Al-Jubeir added that the total humanitarian support provided by the Kingdom to Yemen during the past four years amounted to more than $13 billion.
On the Syrian crisis, the foreign minister said that the Kingdom seeks to stabilize Syrian unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has united the position of the Syrian opposition so it may sit at the negotiating table to reach a political solution that guarantees security and unity, through the prevention of foreign intervention or any attempts to partition the country.
Al-Jubeir said that the Kingdom supports the unity and independence of Libya and the efforts of the UN envoy to reach a political solution that will guarantee the country’s security and stability and eliminate terrorism in the country.
He pointed to the suffering caused in the world by terrorism, which the Kingdom has exerted all efforts to combat, and did not hesitate to provide all kinds of support, in cooperation with the international community, to eliminate it.
He stressed that the conduct of Iran, through its blatant interference in our affairs and its support for terrorist militias, is among the ugliest manifestations of terrorism, which requires us to unite and cooperate to confront and deter.
At the end of his speech, the foreign minister called on his counterpart, the Sudanese Foreign Minister Dr. Dirdiri Mohammed Ahmed, to take over the chairmanship of the current session.
Earlier, under the chairmanship of Al-Jubeir, Arab foreign ministers held, at the request of Jordan, a special session on the crisis facing UNRWA.
The extraordinary session included discussion of the systematic campaign against the UNRWA to reduce or cancel its role, as well as ways to support it, financially, in the light of the recent decision by the US to stop making financial contributions to the organization’s annual budget.
Arab foreign ministers stressed the need for UNRWA to continue to play its role in meeting the humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees, warning against compromising the agency’s mandate or reducing its services, which would contribute to aggravation of the situation in the Middle East.
The ministers emphasized that the agency’s continued commitment to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in the areas of operations, as mandated by the UN, is an international political, legal and moral responsibility.
The ministers agreed to continue discussing the issue in the light of the outcome of the international meeting called for by Jordan, in coordination with Egypt and Palestine, and in cooperation with Sweden, Germany, Japan and the EU to take the necessary steps to build on the outcome of the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference on the Support of UNRWA, held in Rome on March 15, 2018, and political moves to ensure the financial support for the agency to perform its tasks.
Ministers expressed thanks to countries that have provided financial support to the agency, which so far this year has raised about $200 million.


Israel PM Netanyahu battles to save weakened ruling coalition

Updated 18 min 59 sec ago
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Israel PM Netanyahu battles to save weakened ruling coalition

  • Most media see little way for Netanyahu to avoid calling a snap general election

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was battling to keep his government afloat on Friday after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman quit over a ceasefire deal for Gaza.
Left with a single seat majority in parliament after the walkout by Lieberman and his hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party, most media saw little way for Netanyahu to avoid calling a snap general election.
The veteran prime minister was expected to hold crunch talks later on Friday with his other main right-wing rival, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose religious nationalist Jewish Home party has threatened to quit unless he is given Lieberman’s job.
The Gaza ceasefire, which ended the worst flare-up between Israel and the territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas since a 2014 war, faced its first major test later on Friday as Palestinian demonstrators were expected to gather along the border for mass protests that have triggered deadly violence in previous weeks.
The deal has already drawn heavy criticism, however, in Israeli communities near the border that faced barrages of rockets earlier this week.
Hundreds joined a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Thursday despite a promise from Netanyahu of more public money for emergency services.
Pro-Netanyahu freesheet Yisrael Hayom daily predicted that the prime minister would do all he could to avoid a general election while his hard-won security credentials were at issue.
“Holding elections with the fiasco in Gaza in the background cracks the image of the ultimate leader that he has built over the course of years,” it said.
“The chances of stopping this speeding train appear impossible, but Netanyahu is still trying.”
The eight lawmakers of Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home party are not the only threat to Netaynahu’s razor-thin parliamentary majority.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose center-right Kulanu party hold 10 seats, has reportedly told Netanyahu that a snap election is necessary to provide a stable government to keep the economy on track.
But Yisrael Hayom said Bennett was key to efforts to avoid an early election and could yet prove Netanyahu’s political salvation.
“Naftali Bennett as defense minister and Netanyahu as prime minister could together project stability and embark on a coordinated offensive against anyone who gets in the way,” it said.
In a speech on Thursday, Bennett did not reiterate the resignation threat but made his case for why he should get the defense post.
“The most dangerous thing for the state of Israel is that we begin to think that there is no solution to terrorism, to terrorists, to missiles,” he said.
“There is a solution. When Israel wants to win, we will win.”
There were no official details of when or where Bennett would meet Netanyahu on Friday or what public statements if any would be made.
Hundreds of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening calling for tougher action against Hamas which has portrayed the ceasefire and Lieberman’s resignation as a victory.
Netanyahu — flanked by Kahlon, Interior Minister Arie Deri and army top brass — met with the leaders of Israeli border communities.
He briefed them on military efforts to quell Hamas attacks and also announced a 500 million shekel ($139 million) two-year package to improve emergency medical and social services, a government statement said.
With a major domestic political battle on his hands, Netanyahu canceled a planned two-day visit to Austria next week for a conference on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
There has long been speculation that Netanyahu would call a general election before its scheduled date of November 2019.
Police have recommended he be charged in two separate corruption cases and the attorney general is expected to announce in the coming months whether to put him on trial.
Analysts say the prime minister would be better positioned to fight any charges with a fresh mandate from the voters.
But he would not have chosen to go the polls with voters’ attention focused on the Gaza ceasefire and his rivals’ efforts to outbid his security credentials.