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News, December 2017
Putin in Cairo, Followed by Abbas and Abdullah, for Talks About Jerusalem
December 11, 2017
Putin: Jerusalem recognition counterproductive, could spark conflict
RT World News, 11 Dec, 2017 13:54
“We consider counterproductive any moves that preempt the result of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Putin said during a state visit to Egypt on Monday. “Such steps are destabilizing, and don’t help to resolve the situation, but instead provoke conflict.”
Putin added that Russia will urge compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, which state that the final legal status of Jerusalem must be agreed on by both sides as part of their legal settlement of the decades-long standoff.
“There needs to be a long-term and fair solution that fulfills the interests of both sides, and complies with previous stances of the international community,” Putin said. The Russian leader was speaking at a press conference following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Jerusalem priority on Sisi's agendas with Putin, Abbas
Egypt Today, 11 December 2017:
By: Nawal Sayed
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is expected to hold two
important summits on Monday in Cairo as he will meet with Russian
President Vladimir Putin and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas amid
recent developments in the Middle East.
Russia's Putin and Egypt's Sisi discuss Middle East tensions in Cairo
December 11, 2017 / 7:24 AM /
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday for talks on cooperation and tensions in the Middle East following Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool
Putin’s visit reflects growing ties between Russia and Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after Israel and a strategic U.S. partner in the Middle East because of its control of the Suez Canal.
Putin, who is due to fly to Turkey after Cairo, briefly visited a Russian base in Syria before arriving in Egypt and ordered Russian forces to start withdrawing from Syria after a two-year military campaign.
Putin and Sisi are expected to sign bilateral agreements, including one for Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant, and to discuss resumption of Russian flights to Egypt as soon as possible, a presidential spokesman told MENA state news agency.
Moscow halted civilian air traffic to Egypt in 2015 after militants bombed a Russian Metrojet flight leaving from the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing 224 people onboard.
The high-level Russian visit comes after the U.S. government in August decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay another $195 million because of its failure to make progress on human rights and democratic norms.
Egypt's Sisi invites Abbas for talks to tackle Jerusalem crisis
CAIRO, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) --
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi invited his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas for talks in Cairo on Monday over the issue of Jerusalem, the Egyptian presidential spokesman said in a statement on Sunday.
"The talks will address the development related to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the ways to deal with the crisis in a manner that preserves the rights of the Palestinian people, their national sanctities and their legitimate right to establish their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital," said Bassam Rady in the statement.
The statement came days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his country's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Egyptian presidential spokesman said Sunday that Sisi and Abbas agreed over the phone to strengthen contacts with different international parties to explain the negative effects of the U.S. decision.
Sisi also made a phone call to King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday to further discuss the issue of Jerusalem as well as other regional development.
"During the phone talks, the two leaders discussed methods of supporting the Palestinian rights, topped by the right to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital," Rady said.
Egypt has repeatedly voiced its concerns over the U.S. controversial recognition of the holy city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, stressing the move would negatively affect stability in the Middle East region.
Egypt said during a recent UN Security Council emergency meeting that "the position of Jerusalem as an occupied city does not and will not change," stressing that the UN resolutions and the international community agree that Jerusalem is among the Palestinian territories that have been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Sisi is also scheduled to host Russian President Vladimir Putin in Cairo on Monday. Although their talks will focus on bilateral relations and economic cooperation, experts believe their talks may also cover the U.S. move regarding Jerusalem.
Egypt and Israel reached a U.S.-sponsored peace treaty in 1979, after which Egypt started working on reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and brokering intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
Cairo sponsored in October the signing of a reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas to end their long-time rift and enable a unity government to take over control of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The reconciliation deal has not yet been fully implemented, with both Hamas and Fatah exchanging blame for delay.
Over the past few days, the AL and most Arab states have been warning against the "dangerous repercussions" of such a U.S. decision on peace, security and stability in the Middle East region and the chances for a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict emerged since the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the Western-backed creation of Israel in 1948.
Israel is blamed by the international community for the deadlock of the peace process due to its settlement expansion policy, which is rejected even by its strongest ally, the United States.
The Palestinians seek to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital city, in the light of the UN-proposed two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.
King Abdullah renews full support for Palestinian leadership, people
His Majesty meets Abbas, calls for building on global rejection of Trump’s embassy move
By Jordan Times - Dec 08,2017 -
His Majesty King Abdullah on Thursday voiced Jordan's full support to Palestinians in maintaining their historical and legal rights in Jerusalem and endeavours to establish the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
During talks His Majesty held with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Basman Palace, in the presence of HRH Crown Prince Hussein, the two leaders stressed that US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocation of the embassy in the city constitute clear violations to the international law and international legitimacy.
King Abdullah highlighted the importance of intensifying Arab, Islamic and international efforts to safeguard the rights of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, he said, constitutes the key to achieve peace and stability in the region, according to a Royal Court statement.
In this regard, the King called for building on the international rejection against the US decision to avoid any unilateral steps that “other countries may take”.
His Majesty and Abbas underscored the importance of coordinating Arab stances, unifying efforts and contacting the international community over the dangerous repercussions of the US decision on regional security, stability and efforts aimed at reaching peace.
The King urged the international community to shoulder its responsibility in taking decisive and supportive decisions to push for peace and find a solution to the Palestinian issue.
His Majesty stressed that the Jerusalem issue has to be settled within a comprehensive solution that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital that exists in security and peace alongside Israel.
Both leaders emphasised that any measures aimed at altering the legal and historical status of Jerusalem are null and void and will lead to more tension and violence in the region and the rest of the world.
They also agreed on the centrality of the Palestinian cause in the region, stressing that the US decision will have dangerous consequences and provoke the sentiments of Muslims and Christians in Arab and Islamic worlds.
His Majesty, during his telephone calls with several heads of state, stressed on the importance of backing Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority against any Israeli attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem and supporting Palestinians in establishing their independent state according to the two-state solution, Arab Peace Initiative and international legitimacy resolutions.
For his part, Abbas acquainted the King with the contacts he made with heads of states on dangers against Jerusalem and the ramifications of Trump’s decision on the future of the peace process, security and stability in the region and the world.
The president expressed the Palestinian people’s appreciation of the Jordanian role in supporting Palestinians and defending their legitimate rights in establishing their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In remarks to the press, following his discussions with the King, Abbas said that the Jordanian-Palestinian coordination is a continuous process, especially since both countries share the same fate, future and concerns when it comes to the Palestinian cause.
In light of Trump’s decision, there is a lot to be done through the Arab League and the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to be held in Istanbul, Abbas said, highlighting the importance of consultation on all issues to be addressed.
Making the decision, the US alienated itself from political action in the Middle East, Abbas stressed, adding that worldwide rejections of the US decision on Jerusalem are important messages to Trump that his announcement cannot receive approval at all.
EU tells Netanyahu it rejects Trump's Jerusalem move
Robin Emmott, December 11, 2017 / 2:40 AM /
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case to Europe to ask allies to join the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but was met by a firm rebuff from EU foreign ministers who saw the move as a blow against the peace process.
Making his first ever visit to EU headquarters in Brussels, Netanyahu said President Donald Trump’s move made peace in the Middle East possible “because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace.”
Trump announced last Wednesday that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of U.S. policy and international consensus that the ancient city’s status must be decided in Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it in a 1967 war, considers the entire city to be its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.
The Trump administration says it remains committed to the peace process and its decision does not affect Jerusalem’s future borders or status. It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process frozen since 2014.
But even Israel’s closest European allies have rejected that logic and say recognizing Israel’s capital unilaterally risks inflaming violence and further wrecking the chance for peace.
After a breakfast meeting between Netanyahu and EU foreign ministers, Sweden’s top diplomat said no European at the closed-door meeting had voiced support for Trump’s decision, and no country was likely to follow the United States in announcing plans to move its embassy.
“I have a hard time seeing that any other country would do that and I don’t think any other EU country will do it,” Margot Wallstrom told reporters.
Several EU foreign ministers arriving at the meeting reiterated the bloc’s position that lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 war - including East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank and Golan Heights, are not within Israel’s borders.
Israel’s position does appear to have more support from some EU states than others. Last week, the Czech foreign ministry said it would begin considering moving the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while Hungary blocked a planned EU statement condemning the U.S. move.
But Prague later said it accepted Israel’s sovereignty only over West Jerusalem, and Budapest said its long-term position seeking a two-state solution in the Middle East had not changed.
On Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said of Trump’s decision: “I‘m afraid it can’t help us.”
“I‘m convinced that it is impossible to ease tension with a unilateral solution,” Zaoralek said. “We are talking about an Israeli state but at the same time we have to speak about a Palestinian state.”
A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Israeli forces during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Trump’s announcement triggered days of protests across the Muslim world and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in which scores of Palestinians were wounded and several killed. By Monday morning, violence appeared to have subsided.
Netanyahu, who has been angered by the EU’s search for closer business ties with Iran, said Europeans should emulate Trump’s move and press the Palestinians to do so too.
“It’s time that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and also recognize the fact that it has a capital. It’s called Jerusalem,” he said.
In comments filmed later on his plane, he said he had told the Europeans to “stop pampering the Palestinians”. “I think the Palestinians need a reality check. You have to stop cutting them slack. That’s the only way to move forward towards peace.”
Trump’s announcement last week has triggered a war of words between Netanyahu and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, straining ties between the two U.S. allies which were restored only last year after a six year breach that followed the Israeli storming of a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza.
On Sunday, Erdogan called Israel a “terror state”. Netanyahu responded by saying he would accept no moral lectures from Erdogan who he accused of bombing Kurdish villages, jailing opponents and supporting terrorists.
On Monday Erdogan took aim directly at Washington over Trump’s move: “The ones who made Jerusalem a dungeon for Muslims and members of other religions will never be able to clean the blood from their hands,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “With their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in this bloodshed.”
The decision to recognize Jerusalem could also strain Washington’s ties with its other main Muslim ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, which has sought closer relations with Washington under Trump than under his predecessor Barack Obama.
Saudi Arabia shares U.S. and Israeli concerns about the increasing regional influence of Iran, and was seen as a potential broker for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal. But Saudis have suggested that unilateral decisions over Jerusalem make any such rapprochement more difficult.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States and veteran ex-security chief, published a strongly-worded open letter to Trump on Monday denouncing the Jerusalem move.
“Bloodshed and mayhem will definitely follow your opportunistic attempt to make electoral gain,” the prince wrote in a letter published in the Saudi newspaper al-Jazeera.
“Your action has emboldened the most extreme elements in the Israeli society ... because they take your action as a license to evict the Palestinians from their lands and subject them to an apartheid state,” he added. “Your action has equally emboldened Iran and its terrorist minions to claim that they are the legitimate defenders of Palestinian rights.”
The Trump administration says it is working on a peace proposal being drawn up by Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
European leaders say the decision on Israel’s capital makes the need for a broader peace move more urgent.
“We’ve been waiting already for several months for the American initiative, and if one is not forthcoming then the European Union will have to take the initiative,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Peter Graff
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