Gulf countries reject US position on Israeli settlements, Arab League calls emergency meeting

Laborers work in a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Ramat Givat Zeev in the occupied-West Bank Nov. 19, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2019

Gulf countries reject US position on Israeli settlements, Arab League calls emergency meeting

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it completely rejected Washington’s statement on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, state news agency SPA reported.
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday abandoned the position held by the United States for four decades that the settlements were “inconsistent with international law.” 
An official foreign ministry source expressed “the Kingdom’s utter rejection of the US government’s statements that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are legitimate and do not violate international law.”
The source added that Israel’s construction of the settlements is contrary to the resolutions of international legitimacy and international law, and stands as an obstacle to achieving peace and stability in the Middle East and a two-state solution.
The source said that achieving lasting peace requires the Palestinian people to obtain their full legitimate rights in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the resolutions of international legitimacy.

The United Arab Emirates also stressed the need to abide by the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative, which are relevant to the West Bank, including Security Council resolutions stating that Israeli settlements are illegal.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the UN Security Council to abide by the Security Council resolutions stating that Israel should stop settlement activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities toward providing international protection for the Palestinian people and confronting Israeli policies that violate international law.
Bahrain also reiterated its firm rejection of the Israeli settlements, “which is in violation of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, especially Security Council Resolution 2334 issued in 2016 to stop settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967, including East Jerusalem.”
Bahrain’s foreign ministry said that the construction of settlements carries serious repercussions that would hinder efforts to reach a just and comprehensive peace in the region based on a two-state solution.
Meanwhile, the Arab League said it is to hold an urgent meeting Monday on the US announcement.
Hossam Zaki, the pan-Arab body’s deputy secretary general, said several members had backed a Palestinian Authority (PA) call for a ministerial meeting.
The PA’s permanent representative to the Arab League has condemned Washington’s change of position — announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — as “illegal.”
Pompeo said Monday that after legal consultations, the US had concluded the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”
The Cairo-based Arab League has said the US shift was an “extremely adverse development.”


Iran ends week-long parliamentary election campaign

Updated 27 min 34 sec ago

Iran ends week-long parliamentary election campaign

  • Election will have no major influence on foreign affairs or Iran’s nuclear policy, which is determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
  • Iranian activists and opposition groups are distributing the Twitter hashtags #BoycottIranShamElections and #VOTENoVote

DUBAI: Campaigning officially ended on Thursday for Iran’s parliamentary election, state media said, a day before a vote seen as a litmus test of the popularity of the Islamic republic
The vote to pick 290 lawmakers is Iran’s first since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers in 2018, to reimpose sanctions that have hit the economy hard.
“The campaigning ended at 8:00a.m. (0430 GMT) and any campaigning beyond this time is a violation of election regulations,” state television quoted election organizers as saying.
The Guardian Council, which must approve candidates, has rejected about 6,850 moderate or leading conservative hopefuls in favor of hard-liners from among 14,000 applicants seeking to contest Friday’s vote.

Opinion

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The election will have no major influence on foreign affairs or Iran’s nuclear policy, which is determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose hardline loyalists are likely to dominate the parliament.
With Iran facing growing isolation and threats of conflict over its nuclear standoff with the United States amid rising discontent at home, the turnout is seen as a referendum on the establishment, a potential risk for the authorities.
“We anticipate 50% of people will participate in the election,” Abbasali Kadkhodai, the spokesman for the Guardian Council, told a televised news conference on Wednesday.
Turnout was 62 percent in the 2016 parliamentary vote and 66 percent of people voted in 2012. About 58 million Iranians are eligible to vote.
On Tuesday, Khamenei said voting was “a religious duty” but some prominent pro-reform politicians in Iran and activists abroad have called for a boycott of the elections.
“We need to launch a strong boycott campaign to respond to the repressive policies of the system,” jailed human rights activist Narges Mohammadi said from her cell, in a message, posted on her husband’s Facebook page.
Iranian activists and opposition groups are distributing the Twitter hashtags #BoycottIranShamElections and #VOTENoVote widely on social media.
While establishment supporters will vote for hard-line candidates, many pro-reform Iranians are furious over the handling of November protests against fuel price hikes that soon turned political, with demonstrators demanding “regime change.”
A crackdown overseen by the Revolutionary Guards killed hundreds and led to the arrest of thousands, say human rights groups.
The public is also livid over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January that killed all 176 people aboard, mainly Iranians. After days of denials, Tehran admitted the Guards were to blame.