Palestinian leader roundly rejects Trump peace plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech following the announcement by the US President Donald Trump of the Mideast peace plan. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Palestinian leader roundly rejects Trump peace plan

  • Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation
  • Calls for Palestinians to resist the plan through 'peaceful, popular means'

RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said “a thousand no's” Tuesday to the Mideast peace plan announced by President Donald Trump, which strongly favors Israel.
“After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no's to the Deal of The Century," Abbas said at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered.
He said the Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
“We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians would resist the plan through “peaceful, popular means.”
The plan would create a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank, but would allow Israel to annex nearly all of its settlements in the occupied territory. The plan would allow the Palestinians to establish a capital on the outskirts of east Jerusalem but would leave most of the city under Israeli control.
The Islamic militant group ruling Gaza rejected the "conspiracies" announced by the U.S. and Israel and said "all options are open" in responding to the Trump administration's plan.
“We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass. So, all options are open. The (Israeli) occupation and the U.S. administration will bear the responsibility for what they did," senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said as he participated in one of several protests that broke out across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Protesters burned tires and pictures of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas held an emergency meeting with other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to discuss a unified response to the plan. Abbas had rejected the deal before it was announced saying the U.S. was hopelessly biased toward Israel.
Jordan meanwhile warned against any Israeli "annexation of Palestinian lands" and reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, which would include all the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned of “the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as annexation of Palestinian lands.”
Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.


New Tunisian government sworn in after winning confidence vote

Updated 10 min 33 sec ago

New Tunisian government sworn in after winning confidence vote

  • Combating high prices, poverty and corruption will be key tasks
  • The new government will be tasked with relaunching discussions with the International Monetary Fund

TUNIS: Tunisia’s new government was sworn in Thursday after winning a parliamentary confidence vote that broke four months of post-election deadlock.
Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, thirty ministers and two secretaries of state were sworn-in during a ceremony at the presidential palace, over a month after Fakhfakh was designated premier by President Kais Saied.
A previous cabinet list put forward by Fakhfakh was rejected earlier in February by the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, which won the most seats in October’s legislative election, but fell far short of a majority in the 217-seat assembly.
But Fakhfakh’s revised lineup won the vote 129 to 77 — with one out of 207 lawmakers present abstaining — after a debate that started on Wednesday and lasted more than 14 hours.
The new cabinet swore to “work loyally for the good of Tunisia, to respect the constitution and its legislation (and) to scrupulously guard its interests.”
The confidence vote follows a power struggle between the president and Ennahdha, with the party earlier threatening to pull out of Fakhfakh’s proposed administration.
Ennahdha gave its support to the new cabinet after being handed six portfolios. The leftist Democratic Current and the People’s Movement were also given ministries, alongside some 17 ostensibly non-partisan appointments.
Opening the confidence session on Wednesday, Fakhfakh identified his priorities as fighting criminality and “terrorism,” as well as boosting the economy.
Combating high prices, poverty and corruption would be key tasks, alongside creating jobs, he said.
Fakhfakh last week said the political negotiations had taken place “in a completely democratic manner,” despite difficulties.
A cabinet put forward by another premier-designate, Habib Jemli, was rejected by parliament in January.
Political analyst Slaheddine Jourchi said the task ahead for the new government “will be very difficult and complex.”
“Fakhfakh’s cabinet is very heterogenous, composed of members who hold different visions and ideologies,” he contended.
Fakhfakh is Tunisia’s eighth prime minister since the 2011 revolution that ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The new government will be tasked with relaunching discussions with the International Monetary Fund, which in 2016 approved a four-year, $3 billion loan for Tunisia in return for major reforms, some of which are disputed.
Due to delays, the country has only received about $1.6 billion so far, while the facility ends in April and the first repayments are due in November.