Vatican renews call for 2-state solution to Mideast conflict

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Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
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Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
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Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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Vatican renews call for 2-state solution to Mideast conflict

  • The Vatican has reaffirmed its longstanding call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • A Vatican statement said Jerusalem must remain a holy city for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican expressed concern over the status of Jerusalem on Monday as Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held their first meeting since the United States stirred international anxiety by moving its embassy there.
The two embraced and kissed on the cheek as the pontiff welcomed Abbas to a library in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for a private, 20-minute meeting.
“Particular attention was reserved for the status of Jerusalem, underlining the importance of recognizing and preserving its identity and the universal value of the holy City for the three Abrahamic religions,” a Vatican statement said, referring to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
US President Donald Trump outraged the Arab world and the international community last year when he reversed decades of policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and put Washington’s embassy there. It was opened in May.
Palestinians, with broad international backing, want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state, while Israel views the whole city its “united and eternal” capital.
The Vatican expressed concern last year at Trump’s move, saying the city’s “status quo” should be respected. Francis has called for all to honor UN resolutions on the city.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abbas briefed the pope on “the implications of the US decision.”
As Abbas was leaving the library, he told the pope: “We are counting on you.” It was not clear what he was referring to.
The Vatican backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with both sides agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process.
The statement said Abbas and the pope also discussed efforts to reactivate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and hoped for “a renewed commitment on the part of the international community to meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.”
They also urged an end to “extremism and fundamentalism” in the Middle East, and called for reconciliation among Palestinian factions.


Algeria army chief calls for Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule

Updated 33 min 34 sec ago
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Algeria army chief calls for Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule

  • Move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organized in coming months
  • General Ahmed Gaid Salah's call welcomed by demonstrators in central Algiers

ALGIERS: Algeria's army chief called Tuesday for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to govern, after weeks of mass protests demanding the ailing leader step down.
The move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organised in the coming months unless the president recovers.
"It is necessary, even imperative, to adopt a solution to get out of the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people, and which guarantees the respect of the provisions of the constitution and safeguards the sovereignty of the state," General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a televised speech.
The armed forces chief of staff, considered loyal to Bouteflika, added that the solution "is in article 102" of the constitution, under which parliament could declare the president unable to perform his duties due to serious illness.
The 82-year-old leader uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.
Bouteflika said last month he would run for a fifth term in office, despite concerns about his ability to rule, triggering a wave of protests that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets.
He later promised not to stand for another term but also postponed the elections, angering protesters who saw the move as a ploy to stay in power.
The army chief's call was welcomed with car horns honking in Algiers.