Palestinian president slams US dropping ‘occupied’ in report

An Israeli soldier stands guard in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank on March 12, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Palestinian president slams US dropping ‘occupied’ in report

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has criticized a US move to no longer refer to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights as occupied territories in its annual human rights report.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh called it “a continuation of the hostile approach of the American administration toward our Palestinian people and ... contrary to all UN resolutions.”

In a statement carried by official Palestinian news agency WAFA late Wednesday, he said the change was part of US President Donald Trump’s plan to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause.

Trump is expected to unveil his long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace in the coming months, even though the Palestinian leadership has frozen contact with Washington over Trump’s 2017 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians believe the upcoming plan will be blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

In its latest human rights report published Wednesday, the United States referred to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” as opposed to “Israeli-occupied.”

Another semantic change that appeared in last year’s report showed up again this year, with a section titled “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza,” instead of its previous “Israel and the Occupied Territories” heading.

The US State Department insisted the different wording did not mean a change in policy.

Israel occupied the Golan Heights, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War.

It later annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem in moves never recognized by the international community.

It has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, but has fought three wars with Palestinian militants there and maintains a blockade of the territory.

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank continues.


Iranian FM in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart as part of regional tour

Updated 34 min 38 sec ago
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Iranian FM in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart as part of regional tour

  • During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister
  • Discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries

BAGHDAD: Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed in Baghdad on Saturday for talks with his Iraqi counterpart, an Arab News reporter confirmed.

During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister. On Sunday morning, Zarif will meet several senior politicians before he heads to Najaf to meet some clerics, sources told Arab News.

The discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries in addition to possible options to reinforce the attempts to start dialogues with the related sides to reach a compromise or solutions for the current standoff between Iran and US.

The Iranian official will leave Iraq on Monday. Zarif's tour will also include trips to Turkey, India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi will begin a separate tour on Sunday which will see him visit Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, according to Iranian news sources.