Palestinian Authority unhappy with UN envoy: Official

Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process, addresses a Security Council meeting at the UN. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 13 October 2018

Palestinian Authority unhappy with UN envoy: Official

  • Palestinian officials have said while they are unhappy with Mladenov, boycotting him will not serve a positive purpose
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he fully supports the efforts of Mladenov

AMMAN: The Palestinian Authority (PA) has expressed concern about what it says are attempts by the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process to broker a deal between Israel and Hamas behind the PA’s back, a senior Palestinian official told Arab News.

But the PA does not consider Nickolay Mladenov persona non grata, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, said Palestinian officials had told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Mladenov was “no longer acceptable” to the PA because he had “gone beyond his role” in seeking agreements between Israel and rival Palestinian faction Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Annes Sweidan, head of the PLO’s international relations office in Ramallah, told Arab News that Mladenov “isn’t an honest broker, and seems to be working according to the agenda of Hamas, Israel and Qatar with the aim of carrying out the US peace plan by circumventing the Palestinian leadership.” 

Mladenov is buying into Israeli and US efforts to “ease the humanitarian situation rather than the end of the occupation,” Sweidan said.

Diana Buttu, a lawyer and former adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, said the PA is paying no attention to the humanitarian situation. 

“That is the problem. The PA, instead of trying to alleviate the humanitarian disaster deliberately caused by Israel, is exacerbating it and castigating those who try to make life slightly more bearable under Israel’s siege,” she told Arab News.

“It’s the PA’s job to find a political solution, not the UN’s. The PA leadership treats Palestinians as though they’re political pawns.”

Palestinian officials have said while they are unhappy with Mladenov, boycotting him will not serve a positive purpose. 

“The message has been received and understood, so there’s no need to take it any further,” said the senior Palestinian official. 

Guterres said in a statement that he “fully supports the efforts of… Mladenov, who has been working tirelessly with all concerned parties… to change the dynamics in Gaza — to avoid escalation, to support intra-Palestinian reconciliation and to address all humanitarian issues.”

Guterres expressed hope that “relieving the humanitarian pressure in Gaza will reduce the tensions that risk a devastating armed conflict in Gaza and create space for the PA and Hamas to engage seriously with Egypt on reconciliation.” 

He added: “However, any humanitarian response to Gaza’s problems can only be temporary and limited in scope. What is needed is a political breakthrough that will… progress toward advancing a negotiated two-state solution based on relevant UN resolutions and previous agreements.” Meanwhile, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Friday.



Renewed US-led airstrikes pound Daesh holdouts

Updated 23 March 2019

Renewed US-led airstrikes pound Daesh holdouts

  • According to SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel, hundreds of Daesh fighters, including some women, still remain on the outskirts of the encampment
SOUSA, SYRIA: US-led warplanes bombed the north bank of the Euphrates River in eastern Syria on Friday to flush out holdout militants from the last sliver of their crumbling “caliphate.”
Friday’s bombardment ended two days of relative calm on the front line in the remote village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had paused its advance while it combed a makeshift militant encampment, which it overran on Tuesday.
An SDF official said warplanes of the US-led coalition resumed strikes on suspected militant positions before dawn on Friday.
Top SDF commander Jia Furat said his forces were engaging with the Daesh fighters on several fronts while the coalition warplanes provided air support.
The coalition said the “operation to complete the liberation of Baghouz is ongoing.”
“It remains a hard fight, and Daesh is showing that they intend to keep fighting for as long as possible,” it said. The SDF launched what it called its “final assault” against the rebels’ last redoubt in the village of Baghouz on Feb. 9.
Finally on Tuesday, they cornered diehard fighters into a few acres of farmland along the Euphrates River, after forcing them out of their rag-tag encampment of tents and battered vehicles.
The six-month-old operation to wipe out the last vestige of Daesh’s once-sprawling proto-state is close to reaching its inevitable outcome, but the SDF has said a declaration of victory will be made only after they have completed flushing out the last tunnels and hideouts.
According to SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel, hundreds of Daesh fighters, including some women, still remain on the outskirts of the encampment. They are hiding along the bank of the Euphrates River as well as at the base of a hill overlooking Baghouz, he told AFP.
“In around one or two days, we will conclude military operations if there are no surprise developments,” he said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Daesh holdouts were hiding in underground tunnels and caves in Baghouz.
SDF official Jiaker Amed said several militants want to surrender but are being prevented from doing so by other fighters.
“We are trying our best to wrap up the operation without fighting, but some of them are refusing to surrender,” he said.
More than 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have quit the last Daesh redoubt since Jan. 9, according to the SDF.
They comprise 5,000 militants and 24,000 of their relatives as well as 37,000 other civilians.
The thousands who have streamed out have been housed in cramped camps and prisons run by Kurdish forces further north.
On Wednesday night, around 2,000 women and children from Baghouz arrived at the largest camp, Al-Hol, which is struggling to cope with the influx of tens of thousands of people, many in poor health.
Since December, at least 138 people, mostly children, have died en route to Al-Hol or shortly after arrival, according to the International Rescue Committee.
Daesh declared a “caliphate” in June 2014 after seizing a vast swathe of territory larger than Britain straddling Iraq and Syria.
The loss of the Baghouz enclave would signal the demise of the “caliphate” in Syria, after its defeat in Iraq in 2017.
But Daesh has already begun its transformation into a guerilla organization, and still carries out deadly hit-and-run attacks from desert or mountain hideouts.
In a video released on Daesh’s social media channels on Thursday, militants vowed to continue to carry out attacks.
“To those who think our caliphate has ended, we say not only has it not ended, but it is here to stay,” said one fighter.
He urged Daesh supporters to conduct attacks in the West against the enemies of the “caliphate.”
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted following the repression of anti-regime protests in 2011.