Tag Archives: Mahmoud Abbas

US holds back $65m aid to Palestinians

The US is withholding more than half of the $125m (£90m) it gives to the UN relief agency for the Palestinians, American officials say.

It will provide $60 million in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency but will hold back a further $65 million “for future consideration”.

President Donald Trump said earlier the US could cut aid if Palestinians rejected peace efforts with Israel.

Continue reading US holds back $65m aid to Palestinians

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Abbas and Abdullah warn Trump against moving embassy to Jerusalem

Regional peace and relations in jeopardy if mission is transferred from Tel Aviv, US told Read next Israeli soldier killed hours after strikes on Gaza Ultra Orthodox Jews in the Mount of Olives area of Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah have warned Donald Trump of the “dangerous” consequences of transferring the American embassy to Jerusalem after the US president informed the Palestinian and Jordanian leaders that he planned to move the mission. Nabil Abu Rdainah, a Palestinian spokesman, said in a statement that Mr Trump had notified Mr Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, that he intended to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in a phone call on Tuesday.

Continue reading Abbas and Abdullah warn Trump against moving embassy to Jerusalem

Jerusalem: Opposition to mooted Trump Israel announcement grows

Opposition is growing in the Arab world to an expected announcement by Donald Trump that the US will recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Reports say the president will make the statement this week but will further delay acting on a campaign pledge to move the US embassy to the city.

The head of the Arab League, Jordan and the Palestinian president have warned of the consequences of a declaration.

The city’s fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Arabs.

Continue reading Jerusalem: Opposition to mooted Trump Israel announcement grows

‘The president is not a super-patient man’: Trump’s national security advisor praises his ‘disruptive’ foreign policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s national security adviser described his boss’s foreign policy approach as “disruptive” on the eve of the US president’s first White House meeting with the Palestinian leader, saying his unconventional ways could create an opportunity to ultimately help stabilize the Middle East.

Trump faces deep skepticism at home and abroad over his chances for a breakthrough with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, not least because the new US administration has yet to articulate a cohesive strategy for restarting long-stalled peace talks.

Continue reading ‘The president is not a super-patient man’: Trump’s national security advisor praises his ‘disruptive’ foreign policy

End of Gaza war doesn’t translate into peace

Palestinians sit outside their house that witnesses said was heavily shelled by Israel during the offensive, in the Shejaia neighbourhood, east of Gaza City August 31, 2014. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Palestinians sit outside their house that witnesses said was heavily shelled by Israel during the offensive, in the Shejaia neighbourhood, east of Gaza City August 31, 2014.

(Reuters) – A week after the guns fell silent in the Gaza war, Israel and the Palestinians seem to have little appetite or incentive for a return to U.S.-sponsored peace and statehood talks that collapsed five months ago.

With conflicts raging in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria – and the future of the Gaza Strip largely uncharted by a broadbrush Egyptian-mediated ceasefire deal – world powers also are not rushing headlong into the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.

The parties themselves, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bickering governing coalition and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, are on a collision course over threatened Palestinian unilateral moves toward statehood and exploration of war crimes prosecution against Israel in the absence of direct talks.

Israel drew Palestinian and international criticism on Sunday by announcing a major appropriation of occupied land in the West Bank, the most significant such move in 30 years.

As head of a governing coalition divided over trading territory for peace, Netanyahu is now speaking, in amorphous terms, of an alternative route towards ending decades of conflict – a “new horizon” – or possible regional alliance with moderate Arab countries alarmed, like Israel, by radical Islam.

Closer to home and with the Gaza situation still in flux, there is nothing on the immediate horizon as far as peacemaking with Abbas is concerned, Israeli government sources said.

Under the Egyptian-brokered truce agreement, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to address complex issues such as Hamas’s demands for a Gaza seaport and the release of Palestinian prisoners via indirect talks starting within a month.

With the start of those negotiations still up in the air, Netanyahu wants to see whether Abbas takes over responsibility from Hamas for administering Gaza’s borders and that measures are taken to prevent the group from smuggling in weaponry.

Netanyahu, who appears to be weathering an approval rating plunge after the Gaza war ended without a clear victor, took a swipe at Abbas last week, summing up a conflict which the Palestinian leader persistently tried to bring to an end.

“Abu Mazen has to choose which side he is on,” Netanyahu told a news conference, using Abbas’s nickname.

The comment harked back to Israel’s decision in April to cut off peace talks with Abbas after he clinched a unity deal with Hamas, a bitter rival that had seized the Gaza Strip from his Fatah forces in 2007.

Those negotiations, on creating a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, were already going nowhere, with Palestinians pointing to expanding Israeli settlement on land they claim as their own and balking at Israel’s demand to recognize it as the Jewish homeland.

REGIONAL PEACE

In an editorial laden with scepticism, Israel’s liberal Haaretz newspaper questioned whether “as in the past” Netanyahu’s remarks on casting a regional peace net, “are only empty slogans”.

Some of his cabinet ministers are also pressing Netanyahu to get moving on a wider track.

“We cannot and will not allow a situation whereby this ceasefire is the beginning of the countdown to the next round of fire. If we don’t take the diplomatic initiative, this is exactly what will happen,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator in now-dormant talks with the Palestinians, said: “(Netanyahu) has to be put to the test on this.”

Livni, speaking on Israel Radio, said Israel should “create a front with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – those countries threatened by all of those beheaders running around the region”.

But, she said, “they can cooperate with us only if there is a basic minimum of a peace process – dialogue with the moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority”.

In the past, Netanyahu has expressed little interest in embracing a regional peace plan, such as the 2002 Arab initiative that offered normalized ties with Israel if it withdrew fully from territory captured in a 1967 war.

But last year, he signaled in a speech to parliament a readiness to consider the proposal, raised at an Arab League summit 12 years ago, as long as it did not contain “edicts”.

Any land-for-peace moves would elicit even more dissent from right-wingers in his government who have been vocal over Netanyahu’s reluctance to heed their calls during the Gaza war for a full-scale invasion to crush Hamas.

For now, he appears to be in little danger of seeing his political partnerships unravel.

About a month into the war, 77 percent of Israelis surveyed in a Haaretz-Dialog poll described Netanyahu’s performance during the conflict as either good or excellent. That figure dropped to around 50 percent after the ceasefire was announced.

But the snap poll taken a day after the truce went into effect showed that despite his flagging popularity, he continued to top, by a wide margin, the list of politicians whom Israelis believed were most suited to lead them as prime minister.

The second-place pick was “Don’t know”.

Charlie Hebdo Paris massacre: Francois Hollande asked Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend anti-terror march

Netanyahu Hollande

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and French President Francois Hollande attend a ceremony at the Grand Synagogue to the victims of attacks this week, which claimed 17 lives.(Reuters)

French President Francois Hollande requested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not attend the memorial march against terror in Paris at the weekend, it has emerged.

An Israeli source involved in correspondence between the offices of Netanyahu and Hollande told Israeli daily Haaretz that the French leader’s national security adviser, Jacques Audibert, relayed this message to Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu’s national security adviser.

The reason for Hollande’s request is that he believed Netanyahu’s attendance at the march could be “divisive”, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

Hollande reportedly wanted the march to solely focus on French solidarity and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Jewish-Muslim relations. The same message was given to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Israeli source revealed that a French concern was that Netanyahu would seek to capitalise on the situation for his own political gain with the Israeli snap election just two months away.

Netanyahu initially agreed to the request and announced that he would not be attending the march due to security concerns and would fly later for a visit to the Jewish community.

Yet, Netanyahu changed his mind when he discovered that his Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, and Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, were planning to attend the march and meet with the Jewish community.

Audibert reported told Cohen that Netanyahu’s refusal to accept Hollande’s request would have a negative impact on relations between the two countries.

Hollande’s adviser also said that the invitation would then be extended to Abbas so as not to be seen favouring one party in the conflict.

Approximately 1.5 million people, including 40 world leaders, marched in the streets of Paris following attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Kosher grocery, killing 17 people.

Paris attacks: France holds security meeting

French soldier patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of security measures following the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine - 9 January 2015

The French government has been holding a crisis meeting with cabinet ministers on national security after last week’s deadly attacks.

The meeting comes amid questions over how militants known to the authorities were able to launch the raids in Paris.

The assault on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and separate attacks on police officers and a kosher supermarket killed 17 people.

More than 1.5m people marched in the capital on Sunday in a show of unity.

The French government said the rally turnout was the highest on record. Across France, nearly four million people joined marches, according to an interior ministry estimate.

About 40 world leaders joined the start of the Paris march, linking arms in an act of solidarity.

They included UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

BBC News looks at the memorable moments from the unity march in Paris

President Hollande will meet his cabinet, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, as well as the heads of police and security services on Monday.

Mr Valls said ahead of the meeting that thousands of extra soldiers were being deployed to boost security. Mr Cazaneuve announced that nearly 5,000 police would be sent to protect France’s 717 Jewish schools, and that troops would be sent as reinforcements over the next two days.

In London, Prime Minister Cameron is also consulting senior intelligence and security officials over Britain’s response to the attacks in France.

Last week, Mr Valls admitted there had been “clear failings” after it emerged that the three gunman involved in the attacks – Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly – had a history of extremism.

The Kouachi brothers were on UK and US terror watch lists and Coulibaly had previously been convicted for plotting to free a known militant from prison. Coulibaly met Cherif Kouachi while in jail.

Coulibaly and the two brothers were shot dead on Friday after police ended two separate sieges.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Paris on Sunday - 11 January 2015President Hollande said that Paris was “the capital of the world” on Sunday as the capital held a huge rally

French President Francois Hollande hugs Charlie Hebdo journalist Patrick Pelloux during the unity march in the streets of Paris - 11 January 2015Mr Hollande led the march, stopping to hug Charlie Hebdo journalist Patrick Pelloux along the way

Coulibaly killed four people at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday before police stormed the building. He is also believed to have shot dead a policewoman the day before.

Ahead of Sunday’s rally in Paris, a video emerged appearing to show Coulibaly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State militant group.

In the video, he said he was working with the Kouachi brothers: “We have split our team into two… to increase the impact of our actions.”

One of the Kouachi brothers said they were acting on behalf of Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda (AQAP). But experts say it is highly unlikely that Islamic State and al-Qaeda, rivals in the Middle East, would plan an attack together.

The video appears to show Amedy Coulibaly explaining his motivation

The attacks in Paris started last Wednesday, when the Kouachi brothers raided the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people – including eight journalists and two police officers.

High alert

President Hollande warned France to remain vigilant on Friday, saying the country faced further threats.

French police are still hunting for accomplices of the three gunmen, including Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly’s partner.

However, she is believed to have left France before the attacks. The Turkish foreign minister said she had arrived in Turkey on 2 January from Madrid, before continuing to Syria six days later.

Mr Cazeneuve has said France will remain on high alert in the coming weeks.

He hosted a meeting on Sunday morning of fellow interior ministers from across Europe, including the UK’s Theresa May, to discuss the threat posed by militants.

Following the meeting, the ministers issued a statement saying that greater internet and border surveillance was needed to combat terrorist attacks.

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How the attacks unfolded (all times GMT)

Map
  • Wednesday 7 January 10:30 – Two masked gunmen enter Charlie Hebdo offices, killing 11 people, including the magazine’s editor. Shortly after the attack, the gunmen kill a police officer nearby.
  • 11:00 – Police lose track of the men after they abandon their getaway car and hijack another vehicle. They are later identified as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi.
  • Thursday 8 January 08:45 -A lone gunman shoots dead a policewoman and injures a man in the south of Paris. Gunman later identified as Amedy Coulibaly.
  • 10:30 – The Kouachi brothers rob a service station near Villers-Cotterets, in the Aisne region, but disappear again.
  • Friday 9 January 08:30 – Police exchange gunfire with the Kouachi brothers during a car chase on the National 2 highway northeast of Paris.
  • 10:00 – Police surround the brothers at an industrial building in at Dammartin-en-Goele, 35km (22 miles) from Paris.
  • 12:15 – Coulibaly reappears and takes several people hostage at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. Heavily-armed police arrive and surround the store.
  • 16:00 – Kouachi brothers come out of the warehouse, firing at police. They are both shot dead.
  • 16:15 – Police storm the kosher supermarket in Paris, killing Coulibaly and rescuing 15 hostages. The bodies of four hostages are recovered.