Egypt’s foreign minister says Turkey supports extremists in Libya

Turkey’s parliament has given President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the go-ahead to send troops to Libya, aggravating the situation in the country. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Egypt’s foreign minister says Turkey supports extremists in Libya

  • Shoukry called for a cessation of hostilities in Libya, stressing that international law should be respected

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry claims Turkey continues to support extremists in Libya’s long-running civil war.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday following a meeting in Cairo with his counterparts from France, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus on the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, Shoukry said the meeting aimed to reach a political consensus for the crisis, that political solutions are the best possible resolution, and that armed conflicts cannot help solve the crisis.

Shoukry called for a cessation of hostilities in Libya, stressing that international law should be respected. He claimed that Turkey supports armed militias listed as sanctioned by the UN Security Council. 

He noted that the recent agreements signed between Fayez Al-Serraj and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were a violation of the Sokhairat Agreement and that Turkish support for extremists continues.

FASTFACT

Ankara is violating international law in light of the escalation of terrorism in Tripoli, and that Egypt has been affected by attempts by terrorists to smuggle arms through its border with Libya.

The Egyptian foreign minister said that Egypt had exerted “numerous efforts” to enable the people of Libya to reach a compromise. He stressed that Libya’s Presidential Council should represent all the Libyan regions, something it does not do currently.

The situation in Libya is only getting more complicated, Shoukry said, adding that Turkey’s interventions are aggravating the situation. He said Ankara is violating international law in light of the escalation of terrorism in Tripoli, and that Egypt has been affected by attempts by terrorists to smuggle arms through its border with Libya. He added that Egypt fully supports the Berlin conference and its attempts to achieve stability in Libya.

Speaking at the same press conference, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the Demarcation Agreement between Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord is a cause for concern as it violates international law and has a direct impact on the European Union.

On a more positive note, Le Drian added that the latest gas explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean have provided increased development opportunities in the Middle East.


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 21 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.”