Two states ‘only solution’ to resolve dispute, says Germany

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his German counterpart Heiko Maas after their meeting in Amman on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 June 2019

Two states ‘only solution’ to resolve dispute, says Germany

  • Heiko Maas addresses press conference in Amman with his Jordanian counterpart
  • The German Parliament voted last month to condemn as anti-Semitic a movement that calls for economic pressure on Israel over its policies on the Palestinians

AMMAN: Germany’s top diplomat on Sunday reaffirmed his country’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of a long-awaited US peace plan.
“We are still in agreement that reaching a two-state solution through negotiations is the only solution,” Heiko Maas said during a press conference in Amman with his Jordanian counterpart.
Washington is gearing up to roll out economic aspects of its plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month, but it is not yet clear when its political details will be unveiled.
The Palestinians have already rejected the deal, citing a string of moves by US President Donald Trump they say show his administration is irredeemably biased.
“We and Germany agree that the two-state solution is the only way to end the conflict,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said.
Mass and Safadi met a day after US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was quoted by the New York Times as saying Israel had the “right” to annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian leaders said the US envoy’s comments showed “extremists” were involved in White House policy on the issue.
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and its construction of settlements there is viewed as a major stumbling block to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Friedman has in the past been a supporter of Israeli settlements as has the family of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser leading efforts to put together the peace deal.
Kushner has hinted that it will not endorse international calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Path to peace
Several UN resolutions have enshrined the two-state solution, which envisages separate homelands for Jews and Palestinians, as the path to a peace settlement.
Both ministers also stressed the importance of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, just weeks after the US called for it to be dismantled after cutting its roughly $300 million annual donation.
Jordan is home to nearly 2.2 million Palestinian refugees, who make up almost half of the kingdom’s population.
Separately, Mass said Germany would give Jordan a $100 million loan to help cope with economic difficulties in the kingdom where IMF-backed fiscal reforms sparked mass protests last year.
Jordan, whose stability is seen as vital for the volatile Middle East, also hosts some 1.3 million refugees from neighboring war-torn Syria.

HIGHLIGHT

Washington is gearing up to roll out economic aspects of its plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month, but it is not yet clear when its political details will be unveiled.

The German Parliament voted last month to condemn as anti-Semitic a movement that calls for economic pressure on Israel over its policies on the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had welcomed the Bundestag decision in a statement on Twitter. “I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps,” he said in a statement in Hebrew on Twitter.
The BDS condemned the motion as anti-Palestinian.
“The German establishment is entrenching its complicity in Israel’s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid, while desperately trying to shield it from accountability to international law,” it said on Twitter.
Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party abstained during the symbolic vote. They had submitted their own motion calling for a total ban of the BDS in Germany. That motion was defeated.


Russian jets deployment in Libya sparks fears of Ankara-Moscow clash

Updated 1 min 19 sec ago

Russian jets deployment in Libya sparks fears of Ankara-Moscow clash

JEDDAH: Russia’s deployment of fighter aircraft to Libya to support mercenaries backing eastern strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ratcheted up the threat of a confrontation between Ankara and Moscow, experts warned.

In a statement, the US military’s Africa Command said: “US Africa Command assesses that Moscow recently deployed military fighter aircraft to Libya in order to support Russian state-sponsored private military contractors operating on the ground there.”

The warplanes had been painted “to camouflage their Russian origin,” the statement added.

Despite Moscow’s dismissal of claims about its role in the presence of Russian mercenaries in Libya, University of Oxford researcher Samuel Ramani said that new revelations about Russia deploying MiG-29 fighter jets to Libya could create tensions with Turkey.

“Russian jets are being deployed in order to stem the tide of Turkey’s military offensive, which has combined the use of ground force proxies and air force personnel in a hybrid warfare-style fashion. There is also the heightened risk of an accidental aerial conflict between Russia and Turkey,” he told Arab News.

The UN said on Wednesday it was following the developments “with great concern” and highlighted the possible “devastating consequences” of any breaches of an arms embargo imposed on Libya.

Turkey supports Syrian rebels and Libya’s Government of National Accord, while Russia backs Syria’s President Bashar Assad and the Libyan forces of Haftar.

In recent months, there have been steps for rapprochement between Assad and Haftar whose common enemy is still Turkey. Haftar decided to reopen the Libyan Embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus which had been closed for eight years, while flights resumed recently between Damascus and the Libyan city of Benghazi under Haftar’s domain.

However, Ramani pointed out that the long-term impact on Russia-Turkey relations was more unclear.

“Russia is reportedly scaling back its Wagner Group mercenary presence in Libya and replacing those forces with fighter jets, and it is unclear whether this will do more than stall Turkey’s advance, while Moscow pushes for a diplomatic settlement,” he said.

He noted the timing of the reports, which had come on the same day of a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Libya’s House of Representatives’ (HOR) head Aguila Saleh.

Ramani added that Turkey was unlikely to change its conduct in Libya much, in response to Russia’s new developments, but would be more vigilant if Russia’s air war expanded, and the Russian S-400 defense system deal would likely remain in place.

“The only way the S-400 deal could collapse is if the US were to intervene in a material fashion that benefits Turkey and hurts Russia, which is a near-impossibility at present, due to (the coronavirus disease) COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Turkey was set to activate the S-400 missile defense system in April and risked harsh sanctions from Washington for the move. However, the target date was postponed officially due to the COVID-19 outbreak that changed national priorities.

But Turkish rulers still insist on using the Russian system, although it is unclear how the diverging moves in Libya recently would impact on their resolve.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 on May 25, Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said although Turkey had delayed the activation of the system due to the pandemic, the government was still planning to operate it.

Kalin also hinted that if the US were willing to send Patriot missiles to Turkey, Erdogan would be ready to listen to the offer.

Seth Frantzman, Middle East security analyst and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said the Russian move meant to balance Ankara’s role in Libya and to make up for the losses in the Russian-made Pantsir air defense system and show Russia’s strength.

“It’s a bargaining chip related to Syria. Russia wants to show a strong hand in Libya to drive concessions in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, likely through a new regime offensive to illustrate that Russia is not abandoning its partners in Libya and that it is willing to symbolically commit air force assets very publicly,” he told Arab News.

Frantzman pointed out that while both Turkey and Russia worked together, they were also jockeying for popularity and influence in the region.

The UN said on Wednesday it was “following with great concern” claims that Russia sent jets to Libya.

The UN secretary-general’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that, if proven, it would “constitute a flagrant violation of the arms embargo” imposed on Libya in 2011.

Without mentioning Russia, Dujarric said: “Reports of violations have increased significantly in the past few weeks, with reported near-daily transfers by air, land and sea.

“This increase in the violations of the arms embargo will only lead to the intensification of the fighting, which will result in devastating consequences for the Libyan people.”