Leaders welcome meeting of Palestine Central Council

Leaders welcome meeting of Palestine Central Council
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas sits in front of a photo of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem's Old City during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in this December 18, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 26 December 2017

Leaders welcome meeting of Palestine Central Council

Leaders welcome meeting of Palestine Central Council

AMMAN: Senior Palestinian leaders have welcomed a call for the reconvening of the Palestine Central Council (PCC).
Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO’s executive committee and a senior leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Arab News that it was time that the PLO’s top bodies met to assess the current situation.
“The last time that the PCC met was in March 2015 and at that time it was decided to hold a meeting every three months,” he said. Khaled said that a number of decisions made at the last meeting had yet to be carried out. “It was decided to end our connection with the Oslo Accords and the security coordination with Israel but this has not happened.”
Senior Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad said Monday the central council will discuss the declaration of Palestine as a “state under occupation.” Ahmad said that the PCC will convene in the middle of January 2018 in Ramalah.
Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a member of the Palestine National Council, also welcomed the call for the central council, although he also wants the more important Palestine National Council (PNC) to meet as soon as possible.
“We need the PNC to meet now because of the extremely difficult situation we are in and in order to have a high level discussion of our priorities, and to launch a new national liberation strategy that is in sync with our people’s wishes of having an independent state and enacting the right of return,” he said.
Nasrallah, a Fatah leader in Nablus who spent many years in Israeli jails, told Arab News that it was important to reassess relations with the Israeli occupiers and the Americans. “We need a serious review of the entire Oslo process, what is positive and negative about it, so that we can rid ourselves of these shackles and return to proper relations between an occupied people and the occupation. We also need to seriously review our relations with the United states,” Nasrallah said.
Tayseer Khaled also believes that the time has come for the state of Palestine to join all remaining international organizations and agencies.
“This is an opportune time for the PLO to decide on joining some 22 international agencies we have been prevented from joining due to the US conditions,” he said.
He believes that a new strategy for Palestine should include the need to agree on a new multinational mechanism for sponsoring any future talks.
It is still not clear whether Hamas and Islamic Jihad will attend the upcoming Palestine Central Council and where exactly it will take place. A senior source in the Popular Front said it preferred that the meeting would take place outside the Occupied Territories to ensure that all members attended.
However, Nasrallah told Arab News that it was best to hold the meeting in Palestine and those who could not come could join via video conferencing.


EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
Updated 20 min 17 sec ago

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
  • Turkey faces threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara’s human rights record.
Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
“We have seen an improvement in the overall atmosphere,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said as he welcomed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks, describing 2020 as complicated.
“Intentions and announcements need to be translated into actions,” Borrell said.
The improved tone follows a video conference between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Jan. 9 in which both stressed the importance of the bilateral relationship.
Cavusoglu said he hoped von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the head of the European Council which represents the 27 EU member states, would visit Turkey after an invitation from Erdogan.
“It is of course important for there to be a positive atmosphere in Turkey-EU ties, but in order for this to be sustainable, we must take concrete steps,” Cavusoglu added.
2020 proved particularly difficult for relations between Turkey and the EU, especially France, with Erdogan expressing publicly his hope that protests in French cities would topple President Emmanuel Macron.
Greece and Cyprus, strongly backed by France, want to punish Turkey for what they see as provocative oil and gas exploration by Turkish vessels in disputed waters, but Germany and Italy are reluctant to go ahead with any sanctions on Ankara.
Turkey has now withdrawn the vessels and is set to restart talks with Greece, although the EU has accused Ankara of playing “cat and mouse” in a pattern of provocation and reconciliation.
EU leaders will decide in March whether to impose sanctions.
Brussels also accuses Erdogan of undermining the economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts and media, leaving Turkey’s bid to join the EU further away than ever.
“We remain concerned about the (human rights) situation in Turkey,” Borrell said on Thursday.
The European Parliament is expected on Thursday to back a resolution calling for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, a leading Kurdish politician jailed in 20216 on terrorism-related charges.
But Turkey remains a big destination for EU trade and investment and also hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees. The EU aims to agree fresh funds for the refugees from 2022 to discourage them from coming into the bloc.
Ankara wants progress on Turks’ right to visa-free travel to the EU, an upgrade of its trade agreement with Europe and recognition of its claims to hydrocarbons off its maritime shelf.