Trump to unveil Middle East peace plan within four months

President Donald Trump talks during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at U.N. Headquarters. (AP)
Updated 27 September 2018

Trump to unveil Middle East peace plan within four months

  • Trump said he wanted to unveil a peace plan in the next two to three months
  • A senior Palestinian official said Trump's policies were destroying hopes of peace

UNITED NATIONS: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he wanted a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for the first time since taking office. 
Trump, in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations, also said he wanted to unveil a peace plan in the next two to three months.
"It is a dream of mine to get that done prior to the end of my first term," Trump said.

He has previously been vague on the topic, suggesting that he would support whatever the parties might agree to, including possibly a one-state resolution, which might see the Palestinian territories become part of Israel.
"I like (a) two-state solution," Trump said as he posed for photographs with Netanyahu. "That's what I think works best. That's my feeling. Now you may have a different feeling. I don't think so. But I think two-state solution works best."
The president added that his much anticipated but still unreleased Mideast peace plan could be presented in the next two to four months but was not specific as to timing, according to the Associated Press.

A senior Palestinian official rejected Trump's comments in support of a two-state solution, saying his White House's policies were destroying hopes of peace.
"Their words go against their actions and their action is absolutely clear (and) is destroying the possibility of the two-state solution," Husam Zomlot, head of the recently closed Palestinian mission in Washington, told AFP.
He added that Trump's comments alone were not enough to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
Trump has been heavily criticized by the Palestinians for a series of moves that they say show distinct bias toward Israel, starting with his recognition last year of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Palestinians also claim the holy city as the capital of an eventual state. Earlier this year, Trump followed up on the recognition by moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that was widely protested by Palestinians and others in the Arab world.
His administration has also slashed aid to the Palestinians by hundreds of millions of dollars and ended US support for the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees.
Trump and his national security team have defended their position, saying that decades of attempts to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace have failed.
He said Wednesday that the embassy move would actually help peace efforts by recognizing the reality that Israel identifies Jerusalem as its capital. But, he added that Israel would have to make concessions to the Palestinians in any negotiations.
"Israel got the first chip and it's a big one," Trump said. "By taking off the table the embassy moving to Jerusalem, that was always the primary ingredient as to why deals couldn't get done. Now that's off the table. Now, that will also mean that Israel will have to do something that is good for the other side."
Netanyahu thanked Trump for his support, his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and said US-Israel relations have never been better than under his administration. On Tuesday, Trump attacked Iran in his annual address to the UN General Assembly, accusing its leaders of corruption and spreading chaos throughout the Middle East and beyond. He also vowed to continue to impose sanctions on Iran.
"Thank you for your strong words yesterday in the General Assembly against the corrupt terrorist regime in Iran," Netanyahu said. "They back up your strong words and strong actions."


Manchester bomber came to security service’s attention 18 times

Updated 28 min 40 sec ago

Manchester bomber came to security service’s attention 18 times

  • The security service had been informed twice of Abedi’s intentions to travel to Syria and his pro-Daesh extremist views
  • Abedi also visited convicted terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah in British prisons twice

LONDON: The man responsible for the bombing of Manchester Arena in 2017, Salman Abedi, came to the attention of the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security service, MI5, at least 18 times, including for his links to Daesh fundraisers, UK daily The Times reported on Thursday.
The public inquiry into the bombing heard that Abedi, 22, had been flagged after associating with six MI5 subjects of interest (SOI), including a man previously linked to terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, who was under investigation for helping fundamentalists travel to Syria.
Abedi had also traveled to Istanbul, a city through which terrorists often travel on their way to Daesh territory, a year before he killed 22 people as they left the Manchester Arena.
The security service had also been informed twice of Abedi’s intentions to travel to Syria and his pro-Daesh extremist views. The information was disregarded after he did not travel to the country.
MI5 was also aware of the fact that one of Abedi’s contacts had links to a senior Daesh figure, The Times reported.
Lawyers representing the Home Office said that the decisions made in Abedi’s case were mostly “reasonable and understandable” after the families of victims asked why the police and MI5 had failed to take action that might have prevented the attack.
Home Office lawyer Cathryn McGahey said that the bomber came to MI5’s attention in 2010 and was made an SOI in 2014 because of his links to a Daesh recruiter. The case was closed that same year because there was “no intelligence indicating that he posed a threat to national security,” The Times reported.
The security service admitted that information had come to its attention in mid-2016 that led it to consider reopening the case, but a meeting to consider the step was scheduled on a date after the attack had taken place.
The bomber had also appeared on MI5’s radar on other occasions for his links to suspects affiliated with Daesh in Libya and his multiple trips to that country. However, the security services decided that this was not suspicious behavior, as Abedi had family there. 
Abedi also visited convicted terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah in British prisons twice, once in February 2015 and again in January 2017.
The inquiry also heard that intelligence was received by MI5 twice in the lead-up to the attack, but that it was dismissed as relating to “possibly innocent activity” or to “non-terrorist criminality.” While the intelligence was relevant to the Manchester attack, its significance was not fully appreciated.
McGahey said there were “enormous challenges in assessing intelligence, trying to work out what the risk is, who poses the greatest risk and seeking to predict what individuals are intending to do next,” and said that even if MI5 had taken different decisions in the months before the attack it still may not have stopped Abedi from carrying out the bombing.