Palestinians ready for dialogue with any future Israeli leader

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki during a preparatory meeting for the GCC, Arab and Islamic summits in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Updated 18 September 2019

Palestinians ready for dialogue with any future Israeli leader

  • Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki: Whoever will be able to form a government, we are ready to sit with him or her in order to restart the negotiations
  • The tied vote in Israel raised the prospect of tough negotiations to build a unity government or even the end of Netanyahu’s long rule

OSLO: The Palestinians are prepared to engage in dialogue with any future Israeli leader, Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said Wednesday in Oslo, the day after general elections in Israel ended in deadlock.
“Whoever will be able to form a government, we are ready to sit with him or her in order to restart the negotiations,” Al-Maliki told reporters after the elections ended in a tie between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz.
Al-Maliki is accompanying Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on a two-day visit to Oslo.
Their trip comes ahead of a meeting next week in New York of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donors to the Palestinians, headed by Norway.
The tied vote in Israel raised the prospect of tough negotiations to build a unity government or even the end of Netanyahu’s long rule.
Sources in Netanyahu’s office told AFP he was canceling a planned trip next week to the UN General Assembly due to the “political context” in Israel.
Al-Maliki on Wednesday reiterated the Palestinian Authority’s insistence on a two-state solution for peace, after Netanyahu’s deeply controversial campaign pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.
The plan, which would cover around a third of the territory, would not annex Palestinian cities such as Jericho, but they would effectively be surrounded.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the plan would violate international law, with his spokesman saying: “Such steps, if implemented... would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations and regional peace, while severely undermining the viability of the two-state solution.”


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.”