Arab, European leaders vow ‘new era’ of cooperation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and European Council President Donald Tusk attend the final session of the first joint European Union and Arab League summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2019

Arab, European leaders vow ‘new era’ of cooperation

  • Leaders pledged to boost stability and prosperity in both regions and beyond

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Arab and European leaders ended their first summit on Monday pledging to launch a “new era” of cooperation on issues ranging from counter-terrorism to migration.
About 40 Arab League and EU leaders stressed at their two-day summit in Sharm El-Sheikh how their challenges were interlinked and required joint efforts to meet them.
In a final statement, the leaders pledged to “embark on a new era of cooperation and coordination” that would boost stability and prosperity in both regions and beyond, all within a rules-based international order.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the summit host, highlighted common interests on counter-terrorism, migration, economic development and efforts for peace in Yemen, Syria, Libya as well as between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, there were differences on how to deal with Iran. One Western diplomat said several Arab countries wanted a firmer position on Tehran in the final summit statement, but the Europeans refused.
Both sides agreed on the need to work together to manage migrant and refugee flows as well as fight extremists, though Europe is itself divided on migration.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the summit was important for acknowledging cultural, religious and other differences while trying to find “joint solutions,” such as in Syria.
He said the summit was a way to establish personal contacts and lay the groundwork for future talks.
German Chancellor Angel Merkel said: “The fate of the European Union depends to a significant degree on the fate of the countries of the Arab League.
“We saw this in the context of migration, of refugees, and therefore the task is to nurture multilateral cooperation, even if at times there are very different viewpoints.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel repeated an EU admission that it should have long ago held full summits with leaders of a neighboring region whose fates are linked.
“The situations in this region cause instability, insecurity, first of all for the region itself,” Michel said.
“There are countries that have numerous refugees following conflicts in the region, in Syria for example, but that also has an impact in Europe.”


Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

Updated 19 min 41 sec ago

Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

  • Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects
  • Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years

JERUSALEM: A rare homemade bomb attack in the occupied West Bank killed an Israeli teen and seriously wounded her father and brother Friday as they visited a spring near a Jewish settlement, officials said.
Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects.
Israeli medics had earlier reported that a 17-year-old had been critically wounded in the attack and officials later announced her death, naming her as Rina Shnerb from the central Israeli city of Lod.
Medics from the Magen David Adom rescue service initially gave the ages of the two wounded as 46 and 20, before amending to 21 in the latter case.
The army said the three victims were a father and his two children.
The two wounded were taken by helicopter to hospital, the army said.
“Three civilians who were in a nearby spring were injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast,” it said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “harsh terrorist attack” and sent condolences to the family, while pledging to continue building settlements.
“The security arms are in pursuit after the abhorrent terrorists,” he said in a statement.
“We will apprehend them. The long arm of Israel reaches all those who seek our lives and will settle accounts with them.”
United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the “shocking, heinous” attack, saying there was nothing heroic in Shnerb’s “murder,” calling it a “despicable, cowardly act.”
“Terror must be unequivocally condemned by ALL,” Mladenov wrote on Twitter.
Israeli forces meanwhile entered the Palestinian village of Beitunia, south of the spring, to take footage from surveillance cameras.
An AFP reporter said Palestinians clashed there with Israeli soldiers, but no casualties were reported.
Chief of the army, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi visited the site of the attack to understand the incident and oversee the efforts to locate the perpetrators, which he was “confident” would happen quickly, the military said.
Later in the day, Shnerb was buried in her hometown Lod, with thousands participating in the funeral.
Shnerb’s father Eitan, who was wounded and couldn’t attend the funeral, relayed through an uncle his request that people focus on “our strength and love and the wonderful nation and our good land” and avoid sinking into “weakness and anger and strife.”
“We should be worthy of the great sacrifice we offered today,” Eitan Shnerb was cited by the uncle as saying.
In a speech on Friday, Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.
He referred to a recent clash between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and sought to draw a link between the two incidents.
AFP reporters said thousands of Gazans participated in weekly Friday protests at the Israeli border fence, with some youths using slingshots to launch stones at the barrier and a few approaching it.
The health ministry in the enclave said over 122 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli forces, dozens of them hit by live fire.
Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years.
Palestinian attacks have mostly involved guns, knives and car ramming.
There have been concerns about a possible increase in violence in the run up to Israel’s September 17 general election.
A week ago, a Palestinian carried out a car-ramming attack in the West Bank, wounding two Israelis before being shot dead.
On August 8, an off-duty Israeli soldier’s body was found with multiple stab wounds. Two Palestinian suspects were later arrested.
Late Thursday, a Palestinian threw grenades at Israeli soldiers while attempting to cross the Gaza border and was shot by Israeli forces, leaving him wounded, the army and the Gaza health ministry said.
Gaza militants have also launched six missiles at Israel in the past week; the most recent were on Wednesday.
In retaliation, the Israeli army said it struck “a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip.”