Yemen govt delegation departs for Sweden peace talks

The departure of the delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the militia negotiating team. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 December 2018

Yemen govt delegation departs for Sweden peace talks

  • The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say
  • The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”

RIYADH: A Yemeni government delegation flew out of the Saudi capital Riyadh early Wednesday for high-stakes talks in Sweden with Houthi militia aimed at ending the country’s devastating war, sources close to the team told AFP.
The departure of the 12-member delegation headed by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani followed the arrival in Sweden of the rebel negotiating team.
The first Yemen peace talks since 2016 are the best chance yet to end the war, analysts say, as the international community throws its weight behind resolving the devastating conflict.
The delegation of the Saudi-backed government was carrying the “hopes of the Yemeni people to achieve sustainable peace”, tweeted Abdullah al-Alimi, the head of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s office.
He added that the team would make efforts for the success of the talks, which are a “real chance for peace”.
The Houthi militia delegation arrived in Stockholm from Sanaa on Tuesday following a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of 50 wounded insurgents for treatment in Oman in a major boost to peace efforts.
Their team was accompanied by UN envoy Martin Griffiths.
Although no date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, Yemeni government sources say they could begin on Thursday.
A previous UN-brokered attempt to bring the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government to the negotiating table collapsed in Switzerland in September.


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”