Palestinian president vows to thwart Trump peace plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he fears that the US is planning a proposal that would offer the Palestinians limited statehood in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and some autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AP)
Updated 29 October 2018
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Palestinian president vows to thwart Trump peace plan

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday again vowed to oppose any peace proposal by US President Donald Trump as PLO officials met to consider their next moves.
Speaking at the opening of a rare meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s central council, Abbas said Palestinians were facing perhaps the “most dangerous stage” in their history, highlighting a series of controversial measures taken by Trump including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Abbas has boycotted Trump’s administration since that December decision, though the US president’s team is still expected to release a peace plan in the coming months.
Abbas compared the expected Trump proposal to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which saw the British government commit to the creation of a state for Jews in historic Palestine.
“If the Balfour Declaration passed, this deal will not pass,” he pledged.
The US has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Palestinians, with Trump angered by Abbas’s refusal to meet with him or members of his administration.
He has called on Abbas to negotiate, but Palestinian leaders say they are being blackmailed to accept Trump’s terms, which they see as blatantly biased in favor of Israel.
“They are still talking about the deal of the era, and that they will present it after a month or two,” Abbas added, saying Trump’s actions amounted to imposing a deal unilaterally.
The Palestinian leader also renewed his support for salaries for families of Palestinians killed or jailed by Israel.
Israel brands the payments for families of those who have carried out anti-Israel attacks as encouraging “terrorism,” and the United States has also criticized them.
Palestinians see those jailed or killed while carrying out attacks as fighting Israel’s ongoing occupation.
“The salaries of our martyrs and prisoners are a red line,” Abbas said.


Explosion in north Syria targets Al-Qaeda gunmen, kills 11

Updated 17 min 40 sec ago
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Explosion in north Syria targets Al-Qaeda gunmen, kills 11

  • The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Smart news agency, an activist collective, said the blast occurred on the southern edge of the rebel-held city of Idlib
  • The Observatory said 11 people were killed in the blast, including seven HTS members. Smart said 12 people were killed, many of them militants

BEIRUT: An explosion outside an office belonging to an Al-Qaeda-linked group in northwestern Syria on Friday killed at least 11 people and wounded several others, opposition activists said.
The blast comes a week after members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee, or HTS, took over control of wide parts of Idlib province and the surrounding countryside after forcing rival insurgents to accept a deal for a civil administration run by HTS in their areas.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Smart news agency, an activist collective, said the blast occurred on the southern edge of the rebel-held city of Idlib.
The Observatory said 11 people were killed in the blast, including seven HTS members. Smart said 12 people were killed, many of them militants.
In the country’s east, an airstrike in the last area held by Daesh killed at least 20 people.
State news agency SANA said 20 people were killed in the airstrike on the Daesh-held village of Baghouz, while the Observatory said 23 people were killed including 10 IS members.
They both blamed the US-led coalition that has been providing air cover to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their monthslong offensive to capture the area from extremists near the Iraqi border.
The SDF has intensified its offensive over the past weeks on the Daesh-held area.
Meanwhile in Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan met with US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to discuss the situation in Syria as the United States prepares to withdraw troops.
Graham, a prominent voice on foreign affairs in the US, met with Erdogan and other Turkish officials Friday for talks that were also expected to include a proposal for the creation of a “safe zone” in northeast Syria.
The visit comes days after a suicide bombing, claimed by Daesh, killed two US service members and two American civilians in the northeastern town of Manbij.
Graham has said he is concerned that US President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal announcement had emboldened Daesh militants and created dangerous uncertainty for American allies.
The Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in the suicide bomb attack in Manbij — Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, from upstate New York and based at Fort Meade, Maryland; and a civilian, Scott A. Wirtz, from St. Louis.
The Pentagon hasn’t identified the fourth casualty, a civilian contractor.