Vatican opposes Israeli annexation plan

Vatican opposes Israeli annexation plan
The Vatican expressed hope that a resolution could soon be found through direct talks over Israel’s plan to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Vatican opposes Israeli annexation plan

Vatican opposes Israeli annexation plan
  • Vatican expresses hope that a resolution could soon be found through direct talks
  • The Vatican has always taken an interest in the Palestinian question

ROME: The Vatican expressed concern over Israel’s plan to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, saying respect for international law and UN resolutions is an “indispensable element for the two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) to live side by side.”

The Vatican added that it “is following the situation closely, and expresses concern about any future actions that could further compromise dialogue.”

It expressed hope that a resolution could soon be found through direct talks “so that peace may finally reign in the Holy Land, so beloved by Jews and Christians and Muslims.”     

A senior source in the Vatican told Arab News: “We believe the point has been made quite clearly.”

Afif Safieh, the first Palestinian ambassador to the Vatican, from 1995 to 2005, told Arab News that its statement “reveals great irritation and exasperation toward Israel’s total disregard of international law.”

He said the Vatican has always taken an interest in the Palestinian question because “Palestine is the geographic location of the birth of Jesus, and of the Christian message and its propagation. Then there are Palestinian Christian communities. Even though they’re relatively small in number, they play a very prominent role in Palestinian society.”

Safieh, who was also ambassador to the US, Russia, the UK and the Netherlands, added: “The Vatican believes that the absence of an acceptable solution (to the conflict) and the damaging of diplomatic avenues will be a devastating blow for the future of Christians in the Holy Land. The absence of hope on the horizon is pushing this community to shrink even further, and the Vatican believes that the Holy Land shouldn’t become only a museum of holy places.”

Safieh, who was deputy head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s delegation to the UN, said: “Since the very beginning, the Vatican took a very principled position, a consistent one, playing a role as the conscience for political decision-makers.”


Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2020, a Libyan stands in front of a school, which was damaged during fighting between rival factions, in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
  • Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement

TRIPOLI: Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled on Saturday under a UN-backed cease-fire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.

Satellite images broadcast by CNN show a trench running tens of kilometers dug by “Russian mercenaries” near the frontline coastal city of Sirte, as main foreign protagonists Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement.
An unidentified US intelligence official, quoted by the American news network, said there was “no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement.”
“This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and cease-fire. It will be a really difficult year ahead,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged all “regional and international actors to respect the provisions” of the Oct. 23 cease-fire accord that set out a withdrawal within three months of all foreign troops and mercenaries.
That deadline passed on Saturday, with no movement announced or observed on the ground.
The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli and military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of Russia.
Guterres called on all parties to implement the terms of the cease-fire “without delay,” something he noted “includes ensuring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, and the full and unconditional respect of the Security Council arms embargo,” which has been in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

HIGHLIGHT

The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions.

Any withdrawal or end to foreign interference “does not depend on the Libyans but on the outside powers,” said Khaled Al-Montasser, professor of international relations at Tripoli University.
Turkey on Friday welcomed a deal reached at UN-backed talks for Libya’s warring factions to set up an interim executive to rule the North African country until polls in December.
Turkey has backed the GNA with military advisers, materiel and mercenaries, repelling an advance on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces, and it also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.
Last December, parliament in Ankara extended by 18 months its authorization for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the cease-fire deal.
“The mercenaries are unlikely to leave Libya so long as the countries which have engaged them have not guaranteed their interests in the new transitional phase,” said Montasser, referring to the multiple tracks of UN-sponsored talks currently underway.
“Their presence keeps alive the threat of military confrontation at any moment, while the current calm staying in place seems uncertain,” he said.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte, at Al-Jufra airbase held by Haftar’s forces 500 km south of Tripoli and further west in Al-Watiya.