Coalition says Yemen cease-fire has begun

Updated 16 December 2015

Coalition says Yemen cease-fire has begun

RIYADH: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen said Tuesday that a cease-fire had begun at noon (0900 GMT) as scheduled.
Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri confirmed that the truce had taken effect. The rebel forces have yet to say if they will abide by the cease-fire.
The coalition has said that the cease-fire was requested by Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to facilitate the planned peace talks in Switzerland.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the coalition said Arab forces retained the right to respond to any breach of the cease-fire.
The coalition has been waging mainly air strikes on the Houthis since March, after the Houthis seized control of much of the country in a series of moves that started in September 2014.
The Houthis say their actions are aimed at state corruption and against the militant Islamist Al-Qaeda, while the Saudi-led coalition sees the Houthis as furthering rival Iran’s efforts to expand its influence into the Arabian Peninsula.
Two senior commanders from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among dozens of fighters killed in a rocket strike in south-western Yemen, according to local media and Yemeni sources on Monday.
A previous round of peace talks in Geneva in June failed to produce a breakthrough, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the talks.


Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 27 min 11 sec ago

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.