Palestinian president vows to thwart Trump peace plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he fears that the US is planning a proposal that would offer the Palestinians limited statehood in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and some autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (AP)
Updated 29 October 2018

Palestinian president vows to thwart Trump peace plan

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday again vowed to oppose any peace proposal by US President Donald Trump as PLO officials met to consider their next moves.
Speaking at the opening of a rare meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s central council, Abbas said Palestinians were facing perhaps the “most dangerous stage” in their history, highlighting a series of controversial measures taken by Trump including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Abbas has boycotted Trump’s administration since that December decision, though the US president’s team is still expected to release a peace plan in the coming months.
Abbas compared the expected Trump proposal to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which saw the British government commit to the creation of a state for Jews in historic Palestine.
“If the Balfour Declaration passed, this deal will not pass,” he pledged.
The US has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Palestinians, with Trump angered by Abbas’s refusal to meet with him or members of his administration.
He has called on Abbas to negotiate, but Palestinian leaders say they are being blackmailed to accept Trump’s terms, which they see as blatantly biased in favor of Israel.
“They are still talking about the deal of the era, and that they will present it after a month or two,” Abbas added, saying Trump’s actions amounted to imposing a deal unilaterally.
The Palestinian leader also renewed his support for salaries for families of Palestinians killed or jailed by Israel.
Israel brands the payments for families of those who have carried out anti-Israel attacks as encouraging “terrorism,” and the United States has also criticized them.
Palestinians see those jailed or killed while carrying out attacks as fighting Israel’s ongoing occupation.
“The salaries of our martyrs and prisoners are a red line,” Abbas said.


Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

Updated 15 November 2019

Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

BEIRUT: Three major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, to become prime minister of a new government, the Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV reported on Thursday.
The agreement was reached in a meeting on Thursday between outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, and senior representatives of the Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah.
There was no official comment from the parties or Safadi. The broadcasters did not identify their sources.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of an unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Hariri remains caretaker prime minister for now.
Since quitting, Hariri, who is aligned with the West and Gulf Arab states, has been holding closed-door meetings with parties including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had wanted him to be prime minister again.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Mustaqbal Web, a Hariri-owned news website, said a meeting between Hariri, Ali Hassan Khalil of the Amal Movement and Hussein Al-Khalil of Hezbollah had discussed recommending Safadi for the post.
MTV said the government would be a mixture of politicians and technocrats. Mustaqbal Web said the type of government was not discussed, and neither was the question of whether Hariri’s Future Movement would be part of the Cabinet.
LBCI said the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, had also agreed to Safadi’s nomination.
They did not identify their sources.
Safadi is a prominent businessman and member of parliament from the northern city of Tripoli. He served previously as finance minister from 2011-2014 under prime minister Najib Mikati.
Prior to that, he served as minister of economy and trade in the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who was backed by the West. He held that post again in the Hariri-led Cabinet that took office in 2009.
Hariri had said he would only return as prime minister of a Cabinet of specialist ministers which he believed would be best placed to win international aid and steer Lebanon out of its economic crisis, sources close to Hariri have said.