Jordan king in talks with Abbas ahead of Biden summit

Jordan king in talks with Abbas ahead of Biden summit
Abbas highlighted Jordan’s critical role in defending the rights of Palestinians in international circles. (AFP/File)
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Updated 30 June 2021

Jordan king in talks with Abbas ahead of Biden summit

Jordan king in talks with Abbas ahead of Biden summit
  • Monarch focuses on Palestinian rights with call for permanent Gaza truce

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks on Wednesday with King Abdullah before the Jordanian monarch’s key visit to Washington.

The king will be the first Arab leader to meet at the White House with President Joe Biden and his team.

Two Jordanian army helicopters flew to Ramallah to transport Abbas and his team to the talks.

After a one-on-one meeting in the presence of Crown Prince Hussein, Jordanian and Palestinian teams joined their leaders.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki, senior Fatah official Hussein Sheikh, Palestinian intelligence service chief Majed Faraj, and senior diplomatic adviser Majdi Khalidi attended the meeting.

On the Jordanian side, Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, General Intelligence Director Ahmad Hosni and other officials were present, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Jordan’s Petra news agency said the king reiterated Jordan’s support for Palestinians “to obtain their just and legitimate rights in establishing their independent, sovereign and viable state, on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

King Abdullah stressed the need to translate the cease-fire agreement in Gaza into a permanent truce in order to pave the way for Palestinian rights, Petra said.

Abbas highlighted Jordan’s critical role in defending the rights of Palestinians in international circles.

Samir Habashneh, a former Jordanian interior minister, told Arab News that the Biden administration has yet to decide on its approach to the Palestinian conflict.

“For sure, it is different from the Trump administration’s direction and for sure it is in support of the two-state solution, but it hasn’t yet identified the alternative,” he said.

Habashneh, a leading member of a reform committee set up by King Abdullah, said that in a recent meeting the monarch stressed the importance of support for the two-state solution.

“The king’s strong opposition to the Trump plan played a major role in its defeat, but we need to work out the mechanism for how to move forward,” he said.

Habashneh said that he hopes Jordan can influence a Palestinian reconciliation.

“If I can whisper in the ears of our Palestinian brethren, it would be to move fast in the reconciliation process in order to block Israeli efforts to avoid dealing with the Palestinian leadership.”

Hazem Kawasmi, a Jerusalem-based political activist, told Arab News that the situation is quickly deteriorating and there is a need to “find ways to put out all these fires.”

He said: “Things in Jerusalem, and especially in Silwan, with tens of homes slated for destruction, are worrying as is the internal Palestinian protests in light of the death of Nizar Banat and the attacks on peaceful Palestinian protesters by the Palestinian security.”

The family of Banat, a prominent critic of the Palestinian Authority, who died in detention on June 24, said that security forces broke into his house in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron and hit him repeatedly with a metal rod before arresting him.

Oraib Rantawi, director of Al-Quds Center for Political Affairs, told Arab News that the Biden administration is stepping up its coordination with Jordan and Egypt, while “Trump and his people gave preference to the Gulf countries, and disregarded Jordan and Egypt.”

Rantawi said: “I expect that the internal situation is worrying Jordan, and Abbas will most certainly receive friendly advice from King Abdullah on the need to address internal issues that have weakened Abbas and his administration.”

Lamis Andoni, a longtime observer of Jordanian-Palestinian relations, told Arab News: “What is happening in Jerusalem, and its effects on the region and the future, will be an important topic discussed between them.”

Trump’s policies were a major problem for both Jordan and Palestine, she added.

“The policies of the previous US administration gave legitimacy to Israel to increase its expansion into Palestinian lands,” Andoni said.

She said that the Jordan visit is intended to strengthen Abbas’ standing amid growing protests and criticism directed at the Palestinian leader, she said.

“He needs to appear to be still representing the Palestinian Authority.”


Yemenia to operate direct flights between Houthi-held Sanaa, Cairo

Yemenia to operate direct flights between Houthi-held Sanaa, Cairo
Updated 18 sec ago

Yemenia to operate direct flights between Houthi-held Sanaa, Cairo

Yemenia to operate direct flights between Houthi-held Sanaa, Cairo
  • Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister, said that Egyptian authorities would allow the resumption of flights between Sanaa and Cairo as part of efforts to cement the truce
  • Under the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2, Yemenia will operate weekly flights from Sanaa airport to Amman and Cairo

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government on Tuesday praised Egypt for allowing the country’s national carrier, Yemenia, to operate direct flights from Houthi-held Sanaa to Cairo as part of the UN-brokered truce.

The agreement facilitated the resumption of flights from Sanaa airport for the first time in six years.

On Monday, Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister, said that Egyptian authorities would allow the resumption of flights between Sanaa and Cairo as part of efforts to cement the truce and support peace efforts to end the war in Yemen.

During a call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Shoukry expressed his hope that the move would consolidate the UN truce in Yemen, alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and contribute to efforts to establish stability in Yemen.

Under the UN-brokered truce that came into effect on April 2, Yemenia will operate weekly flights from Sanaa airport to Amman and Cairo as warring factions commit to stopping hostilities across the country. The agreement also allows fuel ships to enter Hodeidah seaport.

The first commercial flight since 2016 left Sanaa airport on May 16 — a move that enhanced hopes of strengthening the truce and finding a peace deal to end the war.

The Egyptian decision sparked jubilation among Yemenis, especially among medical patients who seek treatment in Egypt. It was also met with praise from foreign envoys and international mediators.

Baligh Al-Mekhlafi, the information counselor at the Yemeni embassy in Cairo, told Arab News that thousands of Yemenis, mainly patients, will benefit from the resumption of flights, since Egypt is a top destination for Yemenis.

“Opening the airport will contribute to alleviating human suffering and the cost of travel for citizens, especially that 80 percent of the passengers come to Egypt for medical treatment,” Al-Mekhlafi said, announcing the departure of the first flight from Sanaa to Cairo next week.

During a meeting with the Egyptian ambassador in Washington DC, the US Yemen envoy, Tim Lenderking, thanked Egypt for supporting peace in Yemen and the UN-brokered truce.

“The US appreciates Egypt’s strong support for Yemen peace efforts, including the ongoing truce,” Lenderking tweeted.

The Chinese Embassy in Yemen also tweeted praise for Egypt. “We appreciate the Egyptian efforts to operate direct flights from Sanaa to Cairo, hoping that the suffering of the Yemeni people will be alleviated,” it said.

Separately, in the southern port city of Aden, Rashad Al-Alimi, chief of the Presidential Leadership Council, received foreign delegations that visited the interim capital of Aden to express support for the government and listen to plans for reforming state bodies, unifying military and security units, and reviving the economy.

Official media reported on Monday that Al-Alimi met Peter-Derrek Hof, the Dutch ambassador to Yemen, and Birgitta Tazelaar, deputy director general for International Cooperation at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We talked about the reforms the Presidential Leadership Council is working on, including the unification of the military and security institutions under the Riyadh Agreement, and the economic, service and judicial files,” Al-Alimi said, according to SABA news agency.

The Yemeni leader also met with Richard Oppenheim, the UK ambassador to Yemen. Al-Alimi urged the international community and the UK to mount pressure on the Houthis to respect the truce and open roads in Taiz.

The UK ambassador tweeted from Aden that he had “fruitful” meetings with Al-Alimi and Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed. “I urge all parties to continue with the constructive approach taken. Yemen needs peace,” he said.


Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip

Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip
Updated 44 min 18 sec ago

Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip

Turkish minister aims to boost Palestinian economy in rare West Bank trip
  • Turkey signed nine new pacts with the embattled Palestinian Authority
  • Cavusoglu will meet Israeli officials on Wednesday, the latest step in a diplomatic thaw between Ankara and the Jewish state

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Turkey’s top diplomat announced Tuesday a raft of new agreements to bolster the struggling Palestinian economy, during the first high-level Turkish visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 15 years.
During Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s trip to Ramallah, Turkey signed nine new pacts with the embattled Palestinian Authority, ranging from agriculture to education and trade.
Cavusoglu will meet Israeli officials on Wednesday, the latest step in a diplomatic thaw between Ankara and the Jewish state. He will also make a private visit to the Al-Asqa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Alongside his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki, Cavusoglu pledged to push ahead with plans for the construction of an industrial zone in the Palestinian territories.
“The necessary order has been given; there is no luxury for evading and delaying this project,” he said, also setting a $2 billion annual bilateral trade target and pledging more scholarships with Palestinians to study in Turkey.
The World Bank warned this month that the Palestinian economy was in a “precarious” state, with the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority — a major West Bank employer — only paying partial wages since November.
Maliki described Cavusoglu’s visit as “historic” and reflecting the “special relationship between the two countries.”
Turkey has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, but visits to the West Bank had been obstructed by a 15-year diplomatic rupture between Ankara and Israel.
Israel and Turkey proclaimed a new era in relations following President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara and Istanbul in March.
Cavusoglu’s Ramallah visit came as fresh violence rocked the West Bank flashpoint of Jenin.
Israel’s army said a shootout erupted between troops and Palestinians during the latest in a series of operations in the Jenin area, with a man suspected of “terrorist activity” arrested.
Three Palestinians were wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.


US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says
Updated 48 min 6 sec ago

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says

US sanctions Hamas official and financial network, Treasury Dept. says
  • Sanctions target Hamas’ Investment Office, which holds assets estimated to be worth more than $500 million

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Hamas finance official and a network of financial facilitators and companies that have generated revenue for the Palestinian militant group, the Treasury Department said.
The sanctions target Hamas’ Investment Office, which holds assets estimated to be worth more than $500 million.
“Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.
There was no immediate comment from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is deemed a terrorist group in the West and by Israel.
The Hamas official sanctioned is Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, a Jordanian national and accountant who has worked in Hamas’ finance ministry for several years, the Treasury Department said.


Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq
Updated 24 May 2022

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq
  • Another four soldiers were wounded during fighting, said the ministry statement, which did not say where the clash took place
  • Turkey's official news agency Anadolu said the Turkish soldiers had clashed with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

ISTANBUL: Three Turkish soldiers serving in northern Iraq as part of operations against Kurdish militants were killed Tuesday, the defense ministry announced.
Another four soldiers were wounded during fighting, said the ministry statement, which did not say where the clash took place.
Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu said the Turkish soldiers had clashed with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and its western allies say is a terrorist organization.
The PKK has training camps and bases in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, a conflict that has killed 40,000 people, many of them civilians.
Ankara has launched a series of operations against PKK fighters in Iraq and Syria, the latest one in northern Iraq beginning in April.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would soon launch a new military operation into northern Syria which he said was designed to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) “security zone” along their border.
Since 2016, Turkey has also launched three offensives into northern Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish group it considers to be part of the PKK.
Turkey wants to use these security zones to keep Kurdish militants at a safe distance — and to house some of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees currently sheltering inside its own borders.


COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM
Updated 24 May 2022

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM
  • Sameh Shoukry is Egypt’s foreign minister and designated president of the summit at the World Economic Forum in Davos

CAIRO: COP27 will witness the launch of initiatives in partnership with various parties with the aim of fulfilling climate pledges, Egypt’s foreign minister and designated president of the summit said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sameh Shoukry said Egypt’s vision for COP27, which the country will host in November, is based on the need to focus on effective and rapid implementation of countries’ climate pledges in a way that maintains the goal of reducing global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This vision also includes the importance that international climate action be based on the latest scientific facts and data regarding the phenomenon of climate change away from any politicization, as well as the need to work with all parties and partners concerned with climate action, including the private sector, which plays an important role in this regard along with governments,” he added.