Pelosi says House to vote on limiting Trump’s military actions in Iran

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been at loggerheads with President Donald J. Trump, and has led the impeachment against him. (AFP)
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Updated 06 January 2020

Pelosi says House to vote on limiting Trump’s military actions in Iran

  • NATO ambassadors to hold an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Monday
  • UNESCO issues reminder that US and Iran signed up to commitment not to harm cultural heritage

BERLIN/BRUSSELS: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will introduce and vote on a war powers resolution this week to limit US President Donald Trump’s military actions regarding Iran.

“It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days,” Pelosi said.

In Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said US threats of sanctions against Iraq were not helpful and the the country should be convinced by arguments and not threats.

Officials from Germany, UK, and France will meet on Monday to discuss Iran’s latest announcements on the 2015 nuclear deal and will issue a statement afterwards, Maas said.

He added that Iran’s decision to roll back commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal “could be first step to end of this agreement.”

“We will definitely talk to Iran again. What has been announced is, however, not consistent with the agreement,” Maas told Deutschlandfunk radio.

“(The situation) has not got easier, and this could be the first step to the end of this agreement, which would be a big loss so we will weigh this up very, very responsibly now.”

NATO ambassadors will hold an extraordinary meeting at their Brussels headquarters on Monday as Middle East tensions mounted after US forces killed a top Iranian general.

“The North Atlantic Council will address the situation in the region,” a NATO official said.

“The secretary general decided to convene the meeting of NATO ambassadors following consultations with allies.”

The EU’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell voiced regret at Tehran’s latest decision to reduce its commitments to the beleaguered 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“Deeply regret Iran’s latest announcement on #JCPOA. As ever we will rely on @iaeaorg verification,” Borrell tweeted, using an abbreviation for the deal’s formal name.

“Full implementation of #NuclearDeal by all is now more important than ever, for regional stability & global security. I will continue working with all participants on way forward.”

The resolution is likely to win approval in the Democratic-led House, but prospects for passage are less certain in the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, many of whom have said they support the president’s action on Iran.

Iraq’s parliament called for US and other foreign troops to leave as the backlash against the US killing on Friday of a top Iranian general grew, and Trump doubled down on threats to target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliates.

Trump also threatened sanctions against Iraq and said that if US troops were required to leave, Iraq’s government would have to pay Washington for the cost of a “very extraordinarily expensive” air base there.

Also on Monday, the US accused Russia and China of blocking a United Nations Security Council statement “underscoring the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises” after a Dec. 31 attack on the US embassy in Baghdad.
Such statements by the 15-member Security Council have to be agreed by consensus.
The US mission to the UN said 27 countries spoke out against the attack on the Baghdad embassy “in stark contrast to the United Nations Security Council’s silence due to two permanent members – Russia and China – not allowing a statement to proceed.”
Meanwhile, UNESCO said on Monday that the US has signed treaties committing it not to harm cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict.
Trump on Sunday stood by his threat to go after Iranian cultural sites, warning of a “major retaliation” if Iran strikes back.
The UN cultural body said that under provisions of the 1954 and 1972 conventions — which have been ratified by both the United States and Iran — signatory states undertake not to take any deliberate measures which might damage cultural and natural heritage on the territory of other states party to those conventions.


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 22 January 2020

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”