Palestinians seek answers from US envoy Kushner

Israeli border policeman walk outside the Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the old city of Jerusalem on August 20, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 23 August 2017

Palestinians seek answers from US envoy Kushner

RAMALLAH, West Bank: The Palestinians are hoping for some clear answers on key disputes with Israel from US envoy Jared Kushner when he returns to the region this week, a top Palestinian official said.
The Palestinians have shown increasing signs of impatience in recent days, saying that after more than six months in office, US President Donald Trump still has not laid out a vision for Mideast peace.
Ahmad Majdalani, a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians asked Kushner for the US position on two key issues — Israeli settlements and support for Palestinian independence — during his last visit to the region in June.
"Since then we didn't hear from them," he said Tuesday.
"We hope they bring clear answers this time," he added. "If not, then the peace process cannot be resumed because we cannot negotiate from scratch."
The Palestinians are seeking a freeze in Israeli settlement construction and a US endorsement of Palestinian independence as part of a "two-state solution" with Israel.
The Palestinians say that continued Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — captured territories sought by the Palestinians for their state — undermines their dream of independence.
Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law, is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Thursday as he tries to restart talks. The last round broke down over three years ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office had no comment on the upcoming visit, and there was no immediate reaction from a Kushner spokesman.
Trump has cast the elusive pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians as the "ultimate deal."
But he has given few indications of how he plans to reach it.
With his administration still coping with the fallout from his handling of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Netanyahu facing a growing police investigation into possible bribery and corruption, the odds of any major breakthroughs on this trip seem low.
Trump has not explicitly endorsed the two-state solution, the cornerstone of US policy for nearly two decades and the international community's preferred outcome.
He has urged Israel to show restraint in settlement construction, but not demanded a freeze, disappointing the Palestinians.
Trump also has backed away from a campaign pledge to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel had welcomed the promise, while the Palestinians strongly opposed it.
Israel claims East Jerusalem as part of its capital. The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of their future state.


Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

Updated 13 min 14 sec ago

Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

  • Appeal of militant groups such as the Al Qaidam Daesh, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban are in decline, poll suggests
  • The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai

DUBAI: Militant groups in the Arab world face a gradual decline and most Arabs oppose the use of religion for political gain, a new survey suggests.

The appeal of extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban is likely to fade over the next 10 years, researchers found.

The survey indicates that most Arabs view corruption as the main problem in their home country and the leading cause of conflict in the Arab world.

 

Daesh (Islamic State) fighters march in Raqqa, Syria, at the height of their power in 2014. (AP file photo)

Researchers also found overwhelming approval for developments in female empowerment such as Saudi women driving, and most Arabs expect further progress in their own countries in the next 10 years.

The survey’s findings on political Islam were “good news” for the region, said political science professor Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. The Middle East had had enough of extremism and Arabs realized that political groups based on religion were “taking them nowhere,” Abdulla told Arab News.

“Indeed, we have seen the ugly face of it during the four to five years of Daesh’s control of large areas in Syria and Iraq. So it is natural to see there is a decline in the popularity of these parties. But much more important are the predictions that support for religious parties, whether moderate or extremist, is in sharp decline.

Opinion

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“People are becoming aware that there has been some kind of abuse and overuse of people’s emotions for political gains by these religious movements. The foremost is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is going through its worst moment.”

The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai. The 12th annual event will explore events and trends expected over the next 10 years, with 18 key speakers including former ministers, government officials, industry experts, international strategists, writers and media professionals. 

 

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