Vatican renews call for 2-state solution to Mideast conflict

1 / 6
Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
2 / 6
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
3 / 6
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
4 / 6
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
5 / 6
Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
6 / 6
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
0

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.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 22 min 19 sec ago
0

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.