Not so fast: US orders Netanyahu to delay annexation of West Bank land

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A demonstrator poses with an empty slingshot during a protest against the US Mideast peace plan, in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday. (Reuters)
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Tens of thousand pro-Palestinian Turkish demonstrators take part in a protest rally in Istanbul on Feb. 9, 2020 against US President Donald Trump's proposed peace plan for Palestinians. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
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Updated 10 February 2020

Not so fast: US orders Netanyahu to delay annexation of West Bank land

  • Palestinian leaders: Netanyahu had no option but to do what Washington told him

AMMAN, Jordan: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced on Sunday to backtrack on plans for a rapid annexation of occupied West Bank land after an unprecedented warning from the US that he was moving too quickly.

Under pressure from far-right extreme nationalists in his coalition government, Netanyahu had pledged quick “application of Israeli law” to illegal Jewish settlements, and to the Jordan Valley.

The prime minister had been given the green light to act by US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, unveiled on Jan. 28, which proposes that Israel retain vast areas of occupied land required by the Palestinians for an independent state.

But David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel and a key supporter of the Trump plan, warned on Sunday: “Israel is subject to the completion (of) a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee. Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the plan, and American recognition.

BACKGROUND

The Israeli prime minister had been given the green light to act by US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, unveiled on Jan. 28, which proposes that Israel retain vast areas of occupied land required by the Palestinians for an independent state.

“With the news out that the Israeli Cabinet was about to be pushed in a direction that was potentially adverse to our view of the process, we just let people know where we stand.”

Palestinian leaders told Arab News that Netanyahu had no option but to do what Washington told him. “There is no doubt that in such a disagreement Trump is the powerful side in the equation, and if Trump and Netanyahu disagree, the opinions of the Americans will prevail,” said Nabil Shaath, senior political adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The US had interests in the region other than Israel, Shaath said. “For many in the Arab and Muslim worlds, Jerusalem and Arab occupied lands do have a role in the way Washington thinks.”

However, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Arab News that Friedman had been “historically involved in the funding and support of illegal colonial settlements, and is one of the master brains behind this annexation plan.

“He is basically saying, ‘Annexation, a crime of aggression under the Rome statute, is fine as long as you do it with me, not alone.’ Their endgame is the same — to normalize Israel’s apartheid in Palestine.”


Dubai puts iconic neighborhood, Al Ras, in lockdown amid coronavirus fears

Updated 45 min 13 sec ago

Dubai puts iconic neighborhood, Al Ras, in lockdown amid coronavirus fears

  • Al Ras will be closed from March 31 to April 14
  • The move is part of the national sterelization program to fight COVID-19

DUBAI: Travel to and from Al Ras, a densely populated area in old Dubai where the Deira Gold Souk is, was suspended from Tuesday, as the UAE undergoes a nationwide sterilization program to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Although travel restrictions were put across the country, Al Ras was the first area to be in full lock down. Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes, and visitors will be restricted entry to the area from Tuesday, March 31 to Tuesday, April 14.

Roads leading into the zone will be closed during the period, as well as three metro stations.

The UAE’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management ordered the lock down to facilitate “intensified sterilization procedures” in the area, as reported by state-run WAM.

Other government agencies, including the Dubai Police and the Dubai Health Authority, have been tapped to ensure the success of the two-week sanitation.

Al Ras is a famous tourist destination in Dubai because of its distinct historical look as opposed to the rest of Dubai’s modern landscape. It is home to iconic heritage buildings, as well as traditional shops including the Spice Souk, Perfume Souk, and the Gold Souk.

The locality houses some of the oldest hotels in Dubai, as well as Al Ahmadiya School, the oldest educational institution in the emirate.