WJC’s Ronald Lauder says Palestinians should seize the moment as UAE, Bahrain sign peace deal with Israel

Lauder said the Palestinians should seize the moment. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 September 2020

WJC’s Ronald Lauder says Palestinians should seize the moment as UAE, Bahrain sign peace deal with Israel

CHICAGO: Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, predicts that the Abraham Accords, between the UAE, Israel and Bahrain, will open a new path that will achieve peace not only between Arabs and Jews, but Israelis and Palestinians too.

Lauder was one of several hundred leaders invited by US President Donald Trump to attend the signing of the two separate deals on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday.

An advocate for peace over many decades, Lauder, who is also the chairman of one of the world’s largest cosmetic companies, told Arab News on Monday he believes the Abraham Accords will open the door to an eventual final peace with the Palestinians, and strengthen the Jewish community’s presence in the Arab world.

 

“I think that this is a historic agreement between Israel and the UAE, and between Israel and Bahrain. It opens up the entire region and it is a question of starting to believe in each other. This is going to have a ripple effect throughout the entire Middle East. I believe there will be other countries joining very shortly in this phase,” said Lauder.

“I believe very, very much that the Palestinians, seeing what is happening, will finally say it is time to come to the peace table and will sit down with Israel and the US and say let’s talk peace.”

Lauder, a billionaire who has used his money to support Jewish communities in more than 100 countries, added that the World Jewish Congress was already working with the Jewish community in Bahrain, and would soon vote to include the Jewish community of the UAE into their organization.

“We have Bahrain as a part of the World Jewish Congress, and we just voted in the UAE Jewish community,” said Lauder, who also serves as chairman of the Jewish National Fund and previously served as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He is currently chairman of Clinique Laboratories, LLC, a division of the Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., and serves on the Estée Lauder Companies’ board of directors.

With regard to the UAE, he said: “I don’t know the exact numbers but there is a sizable Jewish community there. I know they have a Jewish school there already and we are working with that school through my foundation. In Bahrain I visited the synagogue there and I have seen the Jewish community there.

“Once this peace (deal) is done, you will see many more Jewish people coming out saying we are Jewish and what this is about. There will be a great deal of back and forth between the two countries. I think there will be more planes between Israel and the UAE than between Israel and other countries. It will be something important.”

Lauder said he attended the signing of the peace accords between Israel and Palestinians that took place at the White House on Sept. 13, 1993, and said he believes the two agreements with the UAE and Bahrain will be just as important

“I think it is greatly significant because of the fact that these two countries, UAE and Bahrain, have never been in a military conflict recently with Israel. This is very important because this is an agreement that sets a precedent and it sets up the whole area to work together,” said Lauder.

“I think many other countries will follow in the Middle East, and it changes the whole dynamic. I think it will have a major, major effect on the Palestinians. It will say to the Palestinians the time is now to make peace. I believe it will be very important for the Palestinians to come to the table.”

Lauder said the Palestinians should seize the moment.

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“I believe that the question that everyone asks is what are the Palestinians going to do?” he told Arab News. “I think the Palestinians are realizing now that this is the time to make peace. They should not, and cannot, wait

“Trust does not come overnight. It takes time to build together. There always will be in the near future extremists who will try to stop this trust by trying to do whatever they can.”

Lauder said he was hopeful that the Palestinians will eventually sign an agreement with Israel, as they deserve justice.

“I believe very, very much that Palestinians, seeing what is happening, will finally say it is time to come to the peace table and will sit down with Israel and the US and say: ‘Let’s talk peace,’” he said.

On a more philosophical note, Lauder described Arabs and Jews as “Children of Abraham,” referencing the name of the accords brokered by President Trump, and predicted that the two peoples would one day work together to address global issues.

“Remember, we are all children of Abraham. We are cousins. I believe very much that someday we will have Jews, Muslims and Christians sitting down at the same table, enjoying the same food and discussing things,” Lauder said.

“I look forward (to the day) there will be think tanks made up of Jews, Muslims and Christians working together to find things to do. This is the future. This is what’s happening.”
 


Fresh allegations about mistreatment of Kurds in Turkey

Updated 29 September 2020

Fresh allegations about mistreatment of Kurds in Turkey

  • Opposition party submits parliamentary question on torture after villagers allegedly thrown from military helicopter

ANKARA: The mistreatment of Kurds in Turkey is under the spotlight again following allegations of torture and food poisoning.

Three politicians from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) who were recently arrested said they were hospitalized with food poisoning during their detention, while Amnesty International has demanded the government investigate allegations that two Kurds were thrown out of a military helicopter.

The government accuses the HDP of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and thousands of its members have been prosecuted for the same reason, including its leaders. The HDP denies such links. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and US.

The HDP politicians, including Ayhan Bilgen who is mayor of Van province, fell ill after eating food served at Ankara police headquarters.

Bilgen was not immediately taken to hospital, nor was he allowed to talk to his legal team until after HDP lawmakers had talked with government officials to have him hospitalized.

The trio are under arrest as part of a probe into violent protests that took place in Kobane in 2014. Their detention period was extended on Monday by another four days.

Amnesty International has urged the government to investigate allegations that two Kurds, aged 55 and 50, were thrown from a military helicopter in Van. The rights group voiced its concerns about the “allegations of torture and mistreatment” which it said were unacceptable under international human rights law and standards that Turkey was obliged to comply with.

The men alleged to have been thrown out of a military helicopter were arrested on Sept. 11 as part of an operation against the PKK. Both were hospitalized and had signs of heavy beatings on their bodies.

One of the men was shown to the media with a bloodied face. He is experiencing memory loss. The other man’s condition remains critical. He is suffering from brain trauma, broken ribs, a punctured lung, and has been in intensive care for more than two weeks.

Relatives of the villagers have demanded justice and the uncovering of the truth through a proper investigation.

Amnesty International wants Turkey to investigate the case impartially, and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has submitted a parliamentary question about the allegations of torture.

HDP lawmaker Ali Kenanoglu said his party would follow up the mistreatment allegations at a domestic and international level.

“Kurds have become the scapegoat of the current regime because they are considered as the easiest target that doesn’t have any strong social support behind it,” he told Arab News. “Currently all policies involving war and violence are conducted by targeting Kurds. The mistreatment regarding this segment of society has not received strong backing so far, which opens more room for such efforts.”

Once the Kurdish lawmakers were arrested they were automatically under state protection, he said. “However, state impunity still prevails when it comes to the implementation of the rights of Kurdish community.”

On Monday, HDP deputies and officials were outside the parliament building to protest against the detention of their colleagues, who are accused of inciting violence in Kobane.

Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner, Milena Buyum, called for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the ill-treatment of Kurdish villagers.

“Those found to be responsible should be brought to justice in a fair trial,” she told Arab News. “Turkey is bound by the UN Convention Against Torture and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, both of which it is a party to. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe is tasked with monitoring places of detention in member states and can ask questions regarding the cases of alleged torture and other ill-treatment. As Amnesty International, we will continue monitoring the developments in this shocking case.”

Buyum said that people in detention must be allowed access to their lawyers once they were deprived of their liberty.

“The delay in speaking to the lawyers is concerning. The HDP representatives have been able to consult their legal representatives after four days. They still don't know the substance of the allegations they face as they have not yet been questioned.”

The rights group said that there was increased concern about detention conditions because of the pandemic, and that authorities should step up their efforts to ensure the health and safety of those in custody.

Separately, a Kurdish singer said on Monday that he had been warned by security and intelligence officials against singing in his mother tongue and to stay away from HDP events.

“You will be in trouble if you sing in Kurdish again,” Cesim Basboga was reportedly told. "You’ve been provoking people with songs.”

Basboga will file a complaint.