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Israel Heads to New Election After Netanyahu Fails to Form Coalition

Election will be held on September 17 ■ Netanyahu, Lieberman trade accusations on triggering second election in two months ■ Knesset dissolved

Jonathan Lis
Chaim Levinson
Aaron Rabinowitz
 and 
Jack Khoury
 May 30, 2019 12:25 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters the Knesset, Jerusalem, May 29, 2019. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters the Knesset, Jerusalem, May 29, 2019. Emil Salman

The Knesset voted Wednesday night to dissolve itself after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition, sending Israel to a new election mere seven weeks after the last one.

 

At the heart of the impasse was the issue of drafting ultra-Orthodox  yeshiva students: Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman, without whom Netanyahu can't form a coalition, refused to back down on the bill's terms, while ultra-Orthodox parties claimed they have already yielded enough ground.

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By Tormenting Bibi, Lieberman Could Save Israeli DemocracyHaaretz Weekly Ep. 28

LIVE UPDATES:

0:26 A.M. Chairwoman of Meretz called for merge with Labor party

Chairwoman of Meretz party Tamar Zandberg said she will approach Labor party for talks regarding a merge: "It's time for a large leftist bloc."

0:17 A.M. Netanyahu says Lieberman is a leftist, brings down right-wing governments

Benjamin Netanyahu said Lieberman misled his voters and is dragging the entire country into a new election "after he was the cause of the previous one too, just because he wants a few more votes, which he won’t get. It’s just unbelievable." Netanyahu also said Lieberman is a man of the left, "he brings down right-wing governments."

0:12 A.M. Lieberman says Israel heads to new election because of Likud

MK Avigdor Lieberman wrote on his Facebook page that Likud holds responsibility for the repeat election because of its refusal to vote on bill to draft the ultra-Orthodox. 

0:10 A.M. Knesset votes to dissolve, new election to be scheduled

74 Knesset members voted for dissolution minutes before midnight deadline after Netanyahu fails to form coalition. 45 members voted against. 

11:30 P.M. Knesset convened, waiting to vote on dissolution

Netanyahu has entered the Knesset while Likud lawmaker speaks. Lieberman says that Israel is going to an election "because Netanyahu caved to the ultra-Orthodox."

61 Knesset members must vote to dissolve the Knesset for it to take effect. If the Knesset is dissolved, Israel would head to a new election. 

10:18 P.M. Vote on dissolving Knesset expected at 11:30 P.M.

10:11 P.M. Arab parties decide to vote in favor of dissolving Knesset

The ten elected lawmakers from Arab parties have announced they will vote in favor of dissolving the Knesset tonight, which would, if it passes, send Israel to a new election. 

>> Read more: Suddenly if only briefly, one can fantasize about a post-Netanyahu Israel | Analysis ■ Netanyahu's chain of critical mistakes during coalition talks | Analysis ■ Dear right wing, can you please save the State of Israel? | Opinion

9:47 P.M. Lieberman, ultra-Orthodox reject Netanyahu proposal

Both Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties have rejected Netanyahu's latest attempt to forge a deal.

9:28 P.M. Ultra-Orthodox parties mulling Netanyahu's latest proposal, lean towards rejecting it

9:13 P.M. Netanyahu offers Lieberman deal to end crisis

In a last-ditch effort to broker a deal between ex-defense minister Avigdor Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox parties over the military draft bill that has caused a political crisis that threatens a new election in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the two sides a new suggestion, whereby the bill Lieberman is insisting on would be brought to an initial vote after the coalition is formed while the two sides would continue negotiating thereafter before the final vote. Bills must pass three votes in the legislature to become law. Netanyahu’s offer appears to rest on the idea that since, if no bill is passed by July, all ultra-Orthodox Israelis will have to be drafted (as per High Court orders), they will have an incentive to agree to a version of Lieberman’s bill.

8:55 P.M. Likud says coalition talks completed with 60 lawmakers on board

A Likud statement says coalition talks are over, with 60 lawmakers agreeing to join the government, presumably including the four elected members of Kulanu. Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon says the party has not signed a coalition agreement and will not do so until at least 61 lawmakers are on board, and will also not sign unless Kahlon is promised the finance portfolio.

7:56 P.M. President will consult with party leaders if Netanyahu cannot form government by deadline, Knesset does not dissolve

President Reuven Rivlin will begin consultations with party leaders tomorrow at 9 A.M in the event that Netanyahu does not succeed in forming a government by midnight and if the Knesset does not vote to dissolve itself. They will determine which MK will be given the mandate to form a coalition instead. 

7:48 P.M. Labor chair refuses to join Netanyahu government

Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay took to Twitter to announce his rejection of ministerial portfolios offered to his party by Netanyahu. "Over the course of the last month, the Avoda party received a number of invitations to join the government," Gabbay wrote. "The latest proposal last night included committing to a package of steps to protect democracy. It included annulling the reinforcement, immunity and personal laws, among others. Members of the faction discussed the proposal and decided not to accept it."

He added, "Our position remains that there is no place for more elections, and that it is the president's duty to give the mandate to form the government to MK Benny Gantz." 

7:40 P.M. Three scenarios for how Israel's coalition crisis will end

With the former defense minister and the prime minister apparently stuck in a stalemate, here are some ways the situation could develop.

7:36 P.M. Netanyahu offers defense portfolio to Labor

Netanyahu has offered the Labor Party the defense portfolio in the hopes of convincing it to join a coalition. Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay has yet to refuse or publicly respond. Lawmaker Tal Rousso has also not responded publicly, while the remaining Labor lawmakers, Itzik Shmuli, Stav Shaffir, Shelly Yacimovich and Amir Peretz publicly opposed the idea. Prior to the April 9 election, Gabbay committed repeatedly that he would not sit in a Netanyahu government. 

7:29 P.M. Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers meeting with Netanyahu

United Torah Judaism's Yaakov Litzman, Uri Maklev, Moshe Gafni and Shas's Arye Dery are currently in a meeting with Netanyahu.

6:28 P.M. Lieberman: 'Everything is in the same place'

"Everything stands in the same place where it was," Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said, speaking at the Knesset. "The moment [the military draft] bill passes the second and third reading in its original text, we will be redeemed." There is no ulterior motive, Lieberman urged, calling on ultra-Orthodox lawmakers to accept the bill in its original drafting. 

5:28 P.M. Yisrael Katz chosen as foreign minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Likud MK Yisrael Katz as foreign minister.

3:55 P.M. President Reuven Rivlin says he will 'do everything I can to prevent Israel from going to elections'

President Reuven Rivlin says he will "do everything I can to prevent the State of Israel from heading to another election campaign." 

3:07 P.M. Lieberman's goal is to eliminate Prime Minister Netanyahu because he wants to take his place, a Likud official says. "For a few seats and a hunger for power Lieberman is dragging an entire country to elections," the official says. Lieberman's party says in response it "laments the style and language in the briefings coming out of the prime minister's office."

12:15 P.M.: Knesset opens debate on bill to dissolve it

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein officially opens debate on bill to dissolve the Knesset, ahead of final votes expected later Wednesday.

11:56 A.M.: Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz 'getting ready for a long night'

Yair Lapid tweets a selfie of himself and party leader Benny Gantz, along with the caption: "Getting ready for a long night." The Kahol Lavan co-chair was referring to the planned Knesset debate.

Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich replied: "But it's only morning."

11:27 A.M.: Hadash-Ta'al undecided on vote to dissolve Knesset

Arab-majority Hadash-Ta'al party, which abstained in the first reading of the bill to dissolve the Knesset, could support it in the second and third readings, but some party members oppose the move.

"We can't allow ourselves not to act in a situation where we can prevent the establishment of a far-right party," says MK Aida Touma-Sliman. "Going back to the people and to the vote is the better option in the current situation."

However, MK Ahmad Tibi says "our position ... hasn't changed, because we don't want to be pawns in the game of spins Netanyahu and [Likud lawmaker] Miki Zohar are leading. It's important for us that Netanyahu go to the president and say 'I've failed,' but as opposition, we'd be happy to take down Netanyahu and his government in the making."

11:01 A.M.: Yisrael Beiteinu MK says ultra-Orthodox parties block government

Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Oded Forer says in a tweet that ultra-Orthodox parties are the ones blocking the formation of a new government, rather than his own party. "I suggest Likud direct pressure to them instead of us," he writes.

9:41 A.M.: Opposition plans filibuster, Meretz chairwoman says

Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg says opposition lawmakers will speak at the Knesset in order to delay the vote to dissolve the Knesset at least until Wednesday midnight, in a bid to let President Reuven Rivlin name a new candidate to form a governing coalition.

"We're prepared for a filibuster of at least three days, which is the maximum amount of time for the president to task another Knesset member with forming a government," she says. "If they try to limit speaking time in order to prevent it, we won't hesitate to go to the Supreme Court."

9:24 A.M.: United Arab List-Balad supports dissolving Knesset

United Arab List-Balad chairman Mansour Abbas tells Haaretz his party would support dissolving the Knesset. "In lack of an alternative to Netanyahu, we'll keep supporting dissolving the Knesset," he says.

"If there would be a realistic alternative for another Knesset member to form a government, we'll reconsider our decision to support the bill to dissolve the Knesset," Abbas says.

Balad's Mtanes Shehadeh adds his party "wouldn't miss a chance to take down Netanyahu's government."

8:24 A.M.: Lieberman 'isn't after a real solution,' Likud lawmaker says

Senior Likud member Ze'ev Elkin tells Israel's Army Radio that Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman's actions "show he isn't after a real solution." According to Elkin, Lieberman "knowingly prevents a Netanyahu-led government."

Elkin argues Lieberman can't ask ultra-Orthodox parties to forgo their demands on the draft bill since Yisrael Beiteinu only got five Knesset seats, whereas United Torah Judaism and Shas have eight seats each.

8:23 A.M.: The political cockfight just got out of hand | Analysis

There is no point trying to predict what will happen before the deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to present his government on Wednesday because it is impossible to divine the thoughts of Yisrael Beiteinu chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman. Yet one thing can be said even now with some degree of confidence; the military conscription law and the crisis with the ultra-Orthodox is not the main story, but rather a cover for much deeper and driven motivations.

If it’s about hunger for power, vengeance or just plain sadism in dragging Netanyahu’s frayed nerves publicly through the streets, Lieberman has achieved his goal, so a narrow (and terrible) right-wing government can be declared.

 

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/hours-left-to-deadline-netanyahu-races-to-dissolve-knesset-live-updates-1.7302559

 

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ISRAEL GOES BACK TO ELECTIONS AS NETANYAHU FAILS TO FORM COALITION

Exactly one month after the 21st Knesset were sworn in, a majority of the Knesset voted late Wednesday to disperse themselves and initiate an unprecedented repeat election on September 17.

 
 MAY 30, 2019 00:22
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote
 
 
 
 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote on whether it will disperse, May 29. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 

 

Exactly one month after the 21st Knesset were sworn in, a majority of the Knesset voted late Wednesday to disperse themselves and initiate an unprecedented repeat election on September 17.
 
The motion passed by a vote of 74-45.

 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed the Likud faction ahead of the vote that he did not succeed in reaching a compromise with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman on the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill and also tried unsuccessfully to woo MKs from the opposition to join his government.
 
“It’s over,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, the head of the Likud’s negotiating team, told reporters as he arrived to the Likud meeting after his last negotiations failed.  "The State of Israel is going to elections because of the Likud's refusal to accept our proposal," Liberman said as he entered the Knesset plenum, adding that, "this is a complete surrender of the Likud to the ultra-Orthodox. We will not be partners in a government of Jewish law. "
 
The vote had been set to take place just before midnight, the deadline by which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needed to tell President Reuven Rivlin whether he was able to form a governing coalition. The Likud initiated the bill to dissolve the Knesset rather than give Rivlin a chance to appoint someone other than Netanyahu to form a government.
 
Likud MK Miki Zohar said in presenting the bill to the Knesset that he is “disappointed by the situation, but we were forced into it. He admitted that the decision “would not be remembered positively in our history.”
 
“The Left asks us why we didn’t give [Blue and White leader] Benny Gantz a chance to form the coalition,” Zohar said. “Two and a half million people voted as if they had two votes, for their party and for [Netanyahu]... despite knowing about the [pre-indictment] hearing [for the prime minister on corruption charges]. They didn’t want Gantz.”
 
According to Zohar, those calling to let Gantz form the government are “saying to give the opportunity to the minority to form the government at the expense of the majority. The majority rules, while the minority has rights. That is the meaning of democracy.”

Opposition MKs shouted "shame, shame, shame" in unison ahead of the vote.
 
The bill called the election for September 17, but there were several other options the coalition was set to vote on in the second reading. Netanyahu asked the other parties to back September 17, because that is what Yisrael Beytenu preferred, and he needed them to have a majority in favor of dissolving the Knesset.
 
In the unsuccessful coalition talks, the Likud had proposed that as soon as the government would be formed, Liberman’s original conscription law would be presented as written and in his language for the approval of the Knesset plenum. After its approval, there would be more negotiations when the law would be prepared for its final readings.
 
If that agreement is not reached by the end of July, the party said, and in accordance with the decision of the High Court of Justice, the current arrangement that has exempted haredim from being drafted would expire, and the compulsory service law would apply to all. The ultra-Orthodox parties would therefore have to choose between Liberman’s version of the law and a return to the original law, which means full mobilization for haredim, the Likud said.
 
“The proposal has now been submitted to the parties, and we await their positive response in order to form a right-wing government tonight and prevent unnecessary elections,” the party wrote.
 
In response, United Torah Judaism said that it would back another party to lead the coalition.
 
“We won’t retreat beyond what we have agreed to,” UTJ leader Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman said in his initial response to the Likud statement. “I still believe that a government can be formed. I’m on my way to sign on the coalition agreement.”
 
Liberman also initially rejected the proposal, saying it was not exactly what he had said all along about the conscription bill needing to be passed into law as is.
 
The proposal was made after the Likud reported that it had secured agreements with 60 MKs from the Likud, Kulanu, UTJ, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties, leaving it only one MK short of a majority coalition.
 
After Kulanu denied that it had signed any documents and insisted it won’t sign unless the coalition would include 61 MKs, the Likud said the deal with Kulanu was complete and ready to be signed, pending Liberman joining the government.
 
Hours ahead of the deadline, Liberman stood his ground on the matter of haredi conscription.
 
“We repeatedly said we want the original [haredi] conscription bill, nothing else,” Liberman said. “People claiming that there’s a compromise, when it was just 10 mm. of movement, are not familiar with the bill.”
 
 
Liberman said that proposed compromises “empty the bill of all content,” and he will not agree to them.
 
The bill, which the Defense Ministry drafted under Liberman’s leadership, sets rising annual targets for haredi conscription in the IDF.
 
“The bill is good for the IDF, for the haredim and for Israel,” Liberman stated. “We have to be reasonable. I am appealing to the haredi MKs’ reason.... There is no better bill than this. Let it pass with you abstaining.”
 
The Likud attacked Liberman fiercely throughout the day.
 
“Liberman continues to mislead,” the Likud said in an official statement. “He says ‘I will consider’ to every offer and stalls for a few days. His goal is to end Netanyahu’s career and replace him.”
 
The Likud mocked Liberman for portraying himself as the defender of secular people, after he prevented there being a secular mayor of Jerusalem.
 
“For a few seats and his hunger for power, he is dragging an entire country to elections,” the Likud concluded.
 
Yisrael Beytenu responded by condemning the Likud’s tone and reiterating that Liberman’s views on the conscription bill have been consistent.
 
Earlier, a Likud spokesman confirmed that offers were made to the Labor Party and the Blue and White Party. In talks with Labor head Avi Gabbay, Netanyahu offered him the Defense or Finance Ministry and three other ministerial positions, in an effort to convince him to join his government.
 
A Labor spokesman confirmed that the party received an offer from the Likud that included stopping bills that the party believes would harm democracy, including the Immunity Law. But the spokesman said the offer was considered and rejected.
 
Labor MKs expressed outrage that Gabbay mulled the offer for a full day before telling them. By contrast, Blue and White said no immediately.
 
Opposition MKs took advantage of the nearly 12-hour debate to bring up their grievances against the government that was never formed.
 
Many lamented the estimated NIS 475 million that the election will cost, according to the Finance Ministry, saying that taxpayer money would be better spent elsewhere. In addition, industry experts estimated that the day off for Election Day will cost the economy NIS 2 billion.
 
“Likud MKs, you also have the option of showing some courage and saying no to Netanyahu,” Blue and White MK Miki Haimovich said.
 
Another MK from Blue and White, Yoaz Hendel, said: “Have an opinion. If you’re on the Right, then Right; Left, then Left. But say something other than ‘Bibi!’ Is that Right? When it comes to Hamas, you turn into Peace Now. When there are [corruption] allegations, you become defense attorneys. You turned into dishrags.”
 
Blue and White MK Ram Shefa hosted a trivia game from the Knesset stage, asking who said various quotes from politicians, and offered champagne, cigars and trays of take-out meals, references to Netanyahu’s corruption investigations.
 
Alon Einhorn and Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.
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Jordan’s king tells Trump adviser peace can only come with a Palestinian state

1602221-193609252.jpg?itok=rH_SGlFQ

 

Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner in Amman, Jordan, May 29, 2019. (Yousef Allan/Royal Palace/Handout via Reuters)

Updated 30 May 2019

ARAB NEWS

May 29, 201917:35

Jordan stands by a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

This exposed a rift with the US as the Trump administration tries to rally Arab support for a peace conference in Bahrain

AMMAN: US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on Wednesday met Jordan’s king on the second leg of a mini-regional tour aimed at finding support for his Israel-Palestinian peace plan, the royal palace said.
King Abdullah II insisted on the “need to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace based on the two-state solution that would guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
Presidential advisers Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met with King Abdullah and the official Petra news agency said the two parties “discussed regional developments, especially efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
The remarks, which were carried in a palace statement, were made in the presence of Kushner.
Kushner, who is seeking support for his long-delayed but controversial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, arrived in Jordan from Morocco, where he met King Mohammed VI. Moroccan officials declined commenting on Kushner’s visit.

https://twitter.com/jdgreenblatt45/status/1133790450039476224


He is scheduled to travel to Israel next.
The Moroccan king chairs the Al-Quds Committee, an organization that brings together supporters of the Palestinian cause in the Arab world.
It was created by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation to work for the preservation of the religious, cultural and urban heritage of Jerusalem.
The United States is expected to roll out the economic aspects of the peace plan at a conference in Bahrain on June 25-26.
Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the Bahrain gathering is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.
Jordan, a key US ally, has not yet said whether it will attend the June 25-26 meeting in Manama, capital of Bahrain. The Palestinians have already said they will not attend the summit and have rejected the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan out of hand.
They have boycotted the US administration since Trump broke with decades of consensus and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
Kushner has said the conference will focus on the economic foundations of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The conference will not include core political issues, such as Palestinian statehood.
Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity... to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”
The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.
“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” said Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Reliant on American political and military support, it will be difficult for Jordan reject the invitation. But with most of its people of Palestinian descent, it will be difficult to embrace a plan that does not include a Palestinian state.

The meeting in Rabat focused on developments in the Middle East and North Africa as well as strengthening the partnership between Morocco and the US, a palace spokesman told AFP.
Greenblatt tweeted that he and Kushner shared an iftar dinner — the traditional meal to break the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — with Morocco’s king, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan and Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
“Thank you to His Majesty for a special evening and for sharing your wisdom,” Greenblatt wrote. “Morocco is an important friend & ally of the United States.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1503766/middle-east

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'Worst time': Kushner in Israel ahead of Manama conference

Kushner visits Israel to discuss Israel-Palestine peace plan with Netanyahu who failed to form coalition government.

39 minutes ago
 
 
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is in Israel ahead of the Bahrain conference [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is in Israel ahead of the Bahrain conference [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

 

US President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in Israel for the final leg of another Middle East tour before the scheduled meeting in the Bahraini capital of Manama where the economic aspect of the much-talked-about Israel-Palestine plan will finally be unveiled.

The "workshop" in Manama being organised as part of the so-called "deal of the century" pushed by the Trump administration will not discuss the political aspects of the conflict, and instead will seek to encourage investment in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Palestinian leadership, which has criticised the peace proposal, was not consulted about the Manama conference, which is not expected to address the core political issues of the conflict: final borders, the status of Jerusalem, or the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said last week that "any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political ... and based on ending the occupation."

Political analyst Hani al-Masri said Kushner came at "the worst time" with Knesset dissolved following the failure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government before Wednesday's midnight deadline.

"The call for renewed Israeli elections in September means that the deal will be put on hold for another few months, aggravating the situation," Masri told Al Jazeera, speaking from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

Al Jazeera correspondent Harry Fawcett, reporting from West Jerusalem, said that the uncertainty in Israeli politics has "certainly complicated things".

"He [Kushner] may have expected to come here to speak to Netanyahu on the day that he'd confirmed his government but now, of course, that isn't the case," he said.

Cut off relations with the US

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs occupied West Bank, cut off relations with the United States last year accusing it of having a thoroughly biased relationship with Israel.

"The Palestinian Authority will be at risk of a breakdown because the tax revenues that are usually withheld by Israel were supposed to be released to the PA after the formation of the new Israeli government," Masri said.

Masri said Kushner's latest visit is an attempt to salvage the Manama summit, especially after a "general consensus from the Palestinian side - the government, civil society, and private sector - who expressed their rejection and non-participation."

Along with Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, Kushner visited Morocco on Tuesday and Jordan on Wednesday in order to secure the two countries' backing and participation in the Bahrain summit.

Two-state solution

Morocco and Jordan, however, fell short of stating whether they will attend. The Jordanian Royal Court issued a statement after the delegation meeting, in which King Abdullah "stressed the need to step up all efforts to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace on the basis of the two-state solution".

The two-state solution, based on United Nations resolutions, calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel on the 1967 borders, with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.

But Kushner hinted that the plan will not propose two states for Israelis and Palestinians - for decades the US-backed goal in marathon peace talks.

The Bahrain gathering is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.

The only Arab states to confirm their presence for the Manama conference, which is scheduled for June 25-26, are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The Al Jazeera correspondent said that "the US administration had already put off the plan, the political part of the plan, in accordance with the unexpectedly early Israeli elections called in April. Will they have to do that again?"

"If they do, then we start getting into the US election season ahead of the 2020 election.

"In any case, Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, is saying the deal of the century now looks like it might be the deal of next century," he said.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/time-kushner-israel-manama-conference-190530094657208.html

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132722.jpg?width=750&&height=375

 
2019/05/31 11:23
  • Number of readings 63
  • Section: Iraq
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Coinciding with its launch throughout Iran .. World Jerusalem Day in Baghdad with the participation of clerics and tribal elders and politicians and the crowd

 

BAGHDAD - The capital Baghdad witnessed on Friday morning rallies on Jerusalem International Day, coinciding with its launch in Islamic countries in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Hundreds participated in the march, which began in the area of Palestine Street east of Baghdad, to declare their solidarity with the Islamic countries on the occasion of Jerusalem International Day. 

The participants included tribal sheikhs and factions of the popular crowd, local officials and members of parliament. 

Participants in the march drew an Israeli flag on the ground as an expression of the rejection of "continuing Zionist attacks" on the Palestinian people. 

Since early morning, security forces have cut off roads leading to the Palestine Street area as the march begins. 

The march on Jerusalem International Day was launched this morning, throughout Iran, which is held annually on the last Friday of Ramadan. 

The founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, called for the establishment of Jerusalem International Day on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan every year as a victory for the Palestinian people.

 

 

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With the participation of the popular crowd .. The launch of marches on Jerusalem in Baghdad

10:18 - 31/05/2019
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Information / Baghdad ..

Mass rallies were launched in Baghdad on Friday, with the participation of the popular crowd in solidarity with Islamic countries to commemorate the International Day of Jerusalem and support the Palestinian people.

Hundreds of demonstrators organized a rally on Palestine Street east of Baghdad this morning to announce their solidarity with Islamic countries on the occasion of Jerusalem International Day.

The demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and banners condemning "violations" against the Palestinian people amid slogans calling for support for the Palestinian cause.

The demonstrators chanted "Death to Israel", "Death to America", "Greetings to the Most High" and "Holy Jerusalem."

Participants in the march drew an Israeli flag on the ground as an expression of the rejection of "continuing Zionist attacks" on the Palestinian people. Ending / 25

https://www.almaalomah.com/2019/05/31/409318/

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Maliki calls for responsible positions toward Israel's aggressive policies in the region

12:21 - 31/05/2019
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Information / Baghdad ..

The leader of a coalition of state law, Nuri al-Maliki, on Friday, called on states and peoples to take responsible positions based on understanding Israel's aggressive policies in the region and the world.

"The revival of Jerusalem International Day comes in response to the wise call made by Imam Khomeini to the extent of the commitment of the Arab and Islamic peoples to the Palestinian cause," Maliki said in a tweet via his Twitter account.

"The revival of Jerusalem Day reflects the extent to which the peoples adhere to the approach of resistance, which is growing and expanding, through which we hope to restore the stolen rights, liberate Jerusalem, liberate the occupied land, save the Palestinian people from Israel's injustice and aggression and stand against the plot to Judaize Jerusalem and pass the century's deal."

https://www.almaalomah.com/2019/05/31/409332/

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Baghdad Post Sunday, 02 June 2019 11:43 p

 

Intelligence: New countries want to join the quadripartite exchange

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Military Intelligence Director General, Maj. Gen. Saad Mezher Al-Alak, revealed the desire of some countries to join the quadripartite information center which includes Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria. 

Al-Alak said in a press statement: "Some countries are seeking to join the quadripartite information center, believing in their great role in serving world community peace and destroying the bases and basic principles of organizing the criminal advocate." 

The Director of Intelligence did not mention the countries that wished to join, but said: "The delegations of the Center visited the permanent exhibition of documents, weapons and equipment of gangs and called on the terrorists at the headquarters of the Directorate, and reviewed the contents of the important exhibition." He reviewed the figures and statistics of the achievements of the Center since its establishment in 2015 right Now ".

He referred to what he described as the exemplary spirit of cooperation of the countries participating in the Center, pointing out the difficult circumstances in which he worked and the determination of everyone to succeed in the mission for which he was founded. 


"The Center's important information about the terrorist gangs in Iraq andSyria has contributed significantly to the victory in Iraq and to the undermining of the activity of these gangs in Syria," he said.

https://www.thebaghdadpost.com/ar/Story/168649/الاستخبارات-دول-جديدة-ترغب-بالانضمام-لمركز-تبادل-المعلومات-الرباعي

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Daniel 9:27

Fools can't stop what has been ordained.

INSIGHT-Palestinians say U.S. 'deal of the century' will finish off their state

by Reuters
Sunday, 2 June 2019

 

 

 

* Palestinians say U.S. plan will finish off Palestinian cause

* Pro-Israel think-tank: deal is political disaster

* Plan foresees expansion of Gaza into Egypt's Sinai -Palestinian officials

 

By Samia Nakhoul

 

BEIRUT, May 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. blueprint to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, still in draft form after almost two years, is seen by Palestinians, and by some Arab officials and politicians, as a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause.

The initiative, driven by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser, was billed by the U.S. president as the "deal of the century".

While its precise outlines have yet to be revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who have been briefed on the draft plan say Kushner has jettisoned the two-state solution - the long-standing U.S. and international formula that envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

After several postponements, Washington plans a first formal outing of the economic components of the plan at a "Peace for Prosperity" workshop in June in Bahrain.

The plan faces possible delays due to political upheaval in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must fight another election after failing to form a government.

Kushner and Trump, with backgrounds in real estate rather than diplomacy, seem to be approaching this hitherto insoluble conflict as a transaction, three Arab officials briefed on the plan said.

If the politics keep failing, the reasoning seems to be, then try dangling tens of billions of dollars before the Palestinians and Israel's Arab neighbours – and do a deal that could unlock prosperity for the Palestinians and security for Israel, these officials said.

Politically, the deal envisages an expansion of Gaza into part of northern Egypt, under Egyptian control, Palestinian officials briefed on the plan told Reuters. Palestinians would be left with a smaller share of the West Bank and some areas on the outskirts of Jerusalem and no control over their borders. Western and Arab sources confirmed the outline of the plan.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump's Middle East envoy, said "rumours" about an expansion into Egypt's Sinai desert were false. He declined to give details of the political plan before it is released.

On the decision not to use the term "two-state solution", Greenblatt said: "We believe that using certain phrases and labels is not helpful because they lack detail and nuance – they mean different things to different people. The detailed plan, once released, will show what we think may be best solution for the two parties."

NOT BUYING IT

The Palestinians are not buying it.

"What we're seeing from the plan is that it will blow up the Palestinians," one Arab official told Reuters. "The plan doesn't give justice to the Palestinians."

"The Palestinian cause is being liquidated - no Jerusalem (as capital), no right of return for refugees, no sovereign state. That is why this American project is dangerous," one senior Palestinian leader told Reuters.

The deal as outlined so far has been dismissed by President Mahmoud Abbas' western-backed Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Abbas has boycotted political dealings with the Trump administration for 18 months. This followed Trump's decisions in 2017 to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Since then, the Trump administration has curtailed aid to the Palestinian Authority, shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) delegation in Washington and cut off finance to UNRWA, the U.N. agency supporting Palestinian refugees. Washington meanwhile endorsed Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

"In practice they have already started implementing 'the deal of the century'," the senior Palestinian leader said, "on the ground, step by step". "Today, the two-state solution has been scuttled".

Abbas is not alone in his view of the U.S. deal.

It was rejected by the Islamist Hamas movement, which does not recognise Israel's right to exist and has only given conditional consent to a state in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The PLO has dismissed the Kushner effort as an attempt to bribe Palestinians into accepting Israeli occupation of the West Bank, a prelude to Israel annexing about half their territory and leaving them with scattered cantons.

Hanan Ashrawi, a moderate Palestinian leader, tweeted that the Kushner plan and the Bahrain conference were just "a handout to make our captivity palatable".

Palestinian businessmen have opposed the Bahrain gathering despite a plea by Washington to attend, saying their political demands must be addressed in any peace plan.

Qatar said economic prosperity cannot be achieved without political solutions acceptable to Palestinians. Oman said anything that precludes the establishment of a Palestinian state will not be acceptable.

"We are not proposing an economic peace," Greenblatt said. "We know that is not acceptable to the Palestinians. We've been very clear that the full plan includes a political component as well. But the economic plan is an essential component to the full plan."

MOVING ON?

Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an influential think-tank and supporter of Israel, wrote after interviewing Kushner this month that the deal is a political disaster that should be abandoned.

He said positive economic proposals could be lost by the attempt to skirt around Palestinian rights.

"The only way to protect the long-term viability of the plan's best aspects is to kill it," he said.

Satloff wrote that "unlike a real estate transaction in which one party gets the property and the other party gets the cash, a Middle East peace deal starts and ends with the two parties as neighbours, stuck with each other sharing a duplex for eternity".

Kushner meanwhile visited the Middle East this week seeking support for the June 25-26 Bahrain conference.

The meeting is to talk about the cash. The U.S. plan expects almost all of this – $50 billion to $70 billion – to be put up by Gulf Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Palestinian sources said. Yet even that is now moot.

Saudi Arabia, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the UAE, under Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, want to move on from a Palestinian conflict they believe has held back the Arab world.

That means uniting with Israel against Iran and concentrating on domestic challenges such as economic reforms and confronting Islamist radicals.

The Saudi crown prince maintains close ties with Kushner. But his father, King Salman, has twice said there will be no deal unless Israel meets Palestinian rights to a state.

"Kushner has been taken by surprise in his meetings in Riyadh recently, where there has definitely been a change in tone – in private and in public – by the Saudis," said a senior western diplomat.

Asked for comment, the White House referred to its earlier official statement on Kushner's February meeting with the crown prince and the king which said they discussed "increasing cooperation" and efforts to facilitate peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

NEW REALITY

The Palestinian official said it is clear that Israel "is creating a new reality on the ground" with the Trump administration's help – not least by paving the way for the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The Palestinian and Arab officials briefed on the Kushner- Trump plan said its political contours, as explained to them, look like non-starters unless there is a peace deal.

The essential part is Gaza: where 2 million Palestinians are shut into a strip between Israel and Egypt. The idea is to expand it into the north of Egypt's Sinai peninsula, creating an area where Palestinians can live and work under Egyptian control.

"The plan envisions Gaza stretching from Rafah (its southern border) to El Arish and some parts of Sinai. This area will be a Palestinian expansion in which Palestinians can reside," the Palestinian leader said.

Big projects, such as an airport, a seaport, an industrial zone and power stations are envisaged, Palestinian sources briefed on the plan said.

On the West Bank, the plan is for Israel to annex and join up the settlements, take the Jordan valley and make it the Israeli border with Jordan, and leave the Palestinians a bit less than half as "an autonomous mini-state under some form of self-government", the senior Palestinian leader said.

As for Jerusalem, Palestinians would get neighbourhoods on the outskirts such as Abu Dis and Beit Hanina and Silwan: "not the real Jerusalem (but) they will tell them this is your Jerusalem", the Palestinian leader added.

Western diplomats and intelligence sources worry about how the plan might affect Egypt and Jordan.

However much money is offered, these sources question whether Egyptians would happily relinquish territory.

And Jordan fears a Trump-backed Israel is returning to an old theme: Jordan is Palestine and that is where the Palestinians of the West Bank should go, they say.

 

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Mideast envoy says White House may postpone releasing peace plan

 

Mideast envoy says White House may postpone releasing peace plan

 

President Trump's special envoy Jason Greenblatt said Sunday at the the Jerusalem Post's Annual Conference that the administration may delay the release of its Middle East peace plan until November.

He said the political component to the plan for peace could be postponded until a new Israeli government is formed, around Nov. 6, according to The Jerusalem Post. He said the delay is because of Israel's election. 

“Now we are focusing on [the] Bahrain [workshop],” he said, according to The Post. He also declined to share details of the peace plan. 

Last month, the White House announced that it would an economic conference dubbed "Peace to Prosperity" aiming to spur investment in the Middle East, especially the West Bank and Gaza, as part of its peace plan. 

Kushner said in April that the full plan will not be released until June at the earliest. 

Speaking at the Sunday conference, Greenblatt also said that he agrees with a remark by Ambassador David Friedman who said last week that Israel has the right to annex “some” of the West Bank

“I support his comment,” said Greenblatt “I will let David’s comment stand for itself.”

https://thehill.com/policy/international/middle-east-north-africa/448818-mideast-envoy-says-white-house-may-postpone

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Saudi Crown Prince calls for decisive international position against Iran: interview 

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Updated 12 sec ago

ARAB NEWS

June 16, 201900:23

Talking to Asharq Al Awsat, Mohammad Bin Salman says Kingdom doesn’t seek war but will defend itself against threats 

Says killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “painful crime” and that strategic ties with US are key to regional stability 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, said that Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region, but stressed that it “will not hesitate in dealing with any threat against our people, sovereignty and vital interests.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Crown Prince said that the Kingdom “supported the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran out of our belief that the international community needed to take a decisive stance against Iran.”

He hoped that the Iranian regime “would opt to become a normal state and cease its hostile policy.”

The Crown Prince told Asharq Al-Awsat that attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, oil facilities in the Kingdom and Abha airport “underscore the importance of our demand before the international community to take a decisive stance against an expansionist regime that has supported terrorism and spread death and destruction over the past decades not only in the region, but the whole world.”

He criticized Iran for using the nuclear deal’s economic benefits “to support its hostile acts in the region.”

While stressing that the Kingdom’s hand is always extended for peace, he said that “the Iranian regime did not respect the (Japanese) prime minister as a guest (in Iran) and made during his visit an effective response to his efforts by attacking the two oil tankers in the Gulf, one of which was Japanese.”

“It also employed its militias to carry out a shameful attack against Abha Airport. This is clear evidence of the Iranian regime’s policy and intentions to target the security and stability of the region.”

The Crown Prince said that Saudi Arabia “places great importance on the strategic ties with the US,” considering them a “main factor in achieving regional security and stability.”

He also expressed confidence that “our strategic relations with the US will not be affected by any media campaigns or arbitrary stances.”

The Kingdom constantly seeks to “clarify facts and misconceptions by some parties in the US and other countries. We listen to what is assumed, but ultimately our priority is our national interests.”

He said Saudi Arabia backed all efforts to reach a political solution to the Yemeni crisis but “the Houthi militias prioritize Iran’s agenda over the interests of Yemen and its people.”

“The Kingdom cannot accept the presence of illegal militias on our borders,” he said, adding “we not only seek to liberate Yemen from the Iranian militias, but achieve prosperity and stability for all of the people of Yemen.”

The Crown Prince said in the interview that his country is greatly concerned with the security and stability of Sudan, “not only due to the strategic importance of its location and danger of the collapse of its state institutions, but the strong fraternal ties that bind us.”

He pledged to “continue to support our brothers in all fields until Sudan achieves what it deserves in prosperity and progress.”

On the Syrian crisis, he said Riyadh is working with its allies to achieve its objectives, including “defeating ISIS, preventing the re-emergence of terrorist organizations, dealing with the destabilizing Iranian influence in Syria and using all possible means to achieve political transition in line with Resolution 2254, in a manner that preserves Syria’s unity.”

The Crown Prince described the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi as a “very painful crime.”

The Kingdom is seeking to “achieve full justice,” he said. “Any party seeking to politically exploit the case must cease doing so and present whatever evidence it has to the Kingdom to help achieve justice.”

He also pledged to “confidently forge forward in our approach in firmly confronting all forms of extremism and sectarianism.”

“We will not waste our time in offering partial solutions to extremism as history has proven the futility of such efforts,” said the Crown Prince.

On the economy, he expressed commitment to “the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco given it is under the appropriate circumstances, and in a timely manner.” But said “setting the location of the IPO now is premature.”

He said that Saudi Vision 2030 has “moved from planning and design to implementation on all levels, and started finding results.”

“What is happening in the Kingdom is not simply a set of financial and economic reforms aiming to realize specific figures,” but a comprehensive restructuring of the Kingdom's economy to make a leap forward in economic and development performance in both medium and long terms.

“We are now shifting from a rural economy to one that is characterized by productivity and global competitiveness,” he said.

“I am proud that the Saudi citizen is driving change at a time many feared the vision will face resistance due to the size of the change it entails,” he added.

Here is the full text of the interview:

*The region has recently witnessed dangerous developments that threaten the security and stability of the region and world. What is Saudi Arabia’s stance towards these developments and how does the Kingdom deal with this escalation?

- Saudi Arabia’s stance is clear as stipulated in its mistrial statement. It does not want a war in the region, but we will not hesitate in dealing with any threat against our people, sovereignty and vital interests. Our priority is our national interest and achieving the aspirations of our people through the goals of the Kingdom’s 2030 economic, social, development, and economic and social reform Vision. This demands a stable and competitive environment within the Kingdom and region. This is why you will find that the role of the Kingdom, whether in the region, North Africa, Horn of Africa or other regions, supports stability and peace. This is a policy that the Kingdom has adopted since its establishment whereby it constantly seeks to shun sedition, sectarianism and extremism and instead preserve unity and stability in the region and international peace.

The Kingdom also plays an important role in the international community through its efforts to ensure that oil supplies pass through vital routes that surround it with the aim of protecting the stability of the global economy. The world bore witness to how we dealt with the Iranian tanker in the Red Sea. It was handled based on what our morals and principles and what international treaties and norms demand. In return, we see how the Iranian regime and its proxies have carried out sabotage operations against four oil tankers near Fujairah port. Two of the tankers were Saudi. This confirms the approach followed by this regime in the region and entire world. Plenty of evidence supports this and they have accumulated over several years.

We must not forget that this regime had openly declared since 1979 that its priority and main goal is to export the revolution. It seeks to achieve this at the expense of the aspirations of its people and the peoples of the region. This explains the behavior of the Iranian regime. The export of the revolution and Wilayat al-Faqih principle demand the destabilization of countries and the region, stoking sectarianism, spreading extremism and dedicating the potential of the Iranian people towards financing and arming terrorist militias.

Despite this, the Kingdom has constantly extended its hand for peace with Iran to avoid the horrors of wars and destruction on the region and its people. Saudi Arabia even supported the nuclear deal with Iran because the Kingdom has throughout history never spared an effort to resolve any crisis through diplomatic and peaceful means. We had hoped that the Iranian regime would have taken advantage of this initiative to change its behavior towards the countries in the region and see it as a first step towards Iran’s return to the international community as a normal state. Unfortunately, Iran reaped the economic benefits of this deal in order to support its hostile acts in the region. It continued to violate international resolutions. It was better off dedicating the economic benefits in improving the lives of the Iranian people, developing infrastructure and achieving economic development instead of maintaining is destructive agenda in the region.

Iran’s recklessness has reached unprecedented levels. After the nuclear pact, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ budget increased and it intensified its support for sectarian militias in the region and even the whole world. We have all seen how terrorist and hostile Iranian operations were recently thwarted in Europe. This is why the Kingdom supported the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran. It did so out of our belief that the international community needed to take a decisive stance against Iran. It must also take the necessary measures to limit the regime’s ability to spread chaos and destruction in the whole world.

Recent developments in the region, including the targeting of Aramco oil pumping stations by the Iran-backed Houthi militias, underscores the importance of our demand before the international community to take a decisive stance against an expansionist regime that has supported terrorism and spread death and destruction over the past decades not only in the region, but the whole world.

The choice is clear before Iran. Does it want to be a normal country that plays a constructive role in the international community or does it want to be a rogue state? We hope that the Iranian regime would opt to become a normal country and cease its hostile policy.

*You have pointed to the American stance on Iran, which coincides with the Saudi stance, as is the case with the majority of strategic issues. Recent months have, however, seen criticism directed at the Kingdom from within the United States over a number of issues, especially the Jamal Khashoggi case. Has this criticism affected the strategic cooperation between the two countries?

- The Kingdom places great importance on the strategic ties with the US. They are relations that extend to more than 70 years during which this strategic partnership has defeated several challenges that have targeted the security, stability and sovereignty of our countries. Our ties with the US are important and pivotal, not only for achieving joint interests, whether economic, on the security level or others, but they are a main factor in achieving regional security and stability. Together with the US, and in cooperation with several countries in the region and world, we seek to achieve sustainable stability in the region that would establish the necessary environment to meet the aspirations of the people to live in dignity and real development. We do so by confronting the forces of chaos, destruction and instability embodied in terrorist organizations and their state-sponsors, starting with the Iranian regime.

As for the media campaigns or some American stances, they certainly do not serve the joint interests of our countries. Throughout the Kingdom’s history, however, we have previously confronted such campaigns that are often biased and not based on accurate information. We constantly seek to clarify facts and misconceptions by some parties in the US and other countries. We listen to what is assumed, but ultimately our priority is our national interests. Our priority is the citizen in Riyadh, Jeddah, Jazan, Tabuk, Dammam and other regions in the Kingdom, not what others believe of or propose to the Kingdom. Throughout the Kingdom’s history, we have managed to coexist with our main allies, despite natural differences that exist between all countries, by respecting the sovereignty of nations and avoiding meddling in their internal affairs. We accept nothing less than reciprocal treatment when it comes to our sovereignty and internal affairs. I am confident that our strategic relations with the US will not be affected by any media campaigns or arbitrary stances.

As for the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi, as I have previously said, this is a very painful crime that is unprecedented in the history of the Kingdom. Such acts are alien to our culture and contradict our principles and values. The Kingdom has taken the necessary measures, whether through the judiciary to hold the perpetrators to account or through taking procedural measures to prevent such unfortunate crimes from taking place again in the future. These measures stem first and foremost from our keenness on the lives of every Saudi citizen. These measures have not and will not be affected by any other factors. We are a state of law and it is unacceptable for the life of a citizen to be violated in such a painful way and under any circumstance. Unfortunately, the suspects are government employees and we seek to achieve full justice. Any party seeking to politically exploit the case must cease doing so and present whatever evidence it has to the Kingdom to help achieve justice.

*Does the agreement with the US on Iran apply to the situation in Syria, especially in wake of the American decision to withdraw from the country?

- There is an agreement on the objectives in Syria, which are the defeat of the ISIS group, preventing the re-emergence of terrorist organizations, dealing with the destabilizing Iranian influence in Syria and using all possible means to achieve political transition according to Resolution 2254, in a manner that preserves Syria’s unity. We are working with friendly countries to achieve these goals.

*How do you interpret the Japanese Prime Minister’s recent visit to Iran and his meeting with the supreme leader?

- We thank the prime minister for his good intentions and the Kingdom’s hand is always extended to peace in a manner that achieves the security and stability of the region. The Iranian regime, however, did not respect the prime minister as a guest and made during his visit an effective response to his efforts by attacking the two oil tankers in the Gulf, one of which was Japanese. It also employed its militias to carry out a shameful attack against Abha Airport. This is clear evidence of the Iranian regime’s policy and intentions to target the security and stability of the region. Iran is the party that is constantly escalating tensions in the region. It carries out terrorist attacks and shameful direct or indirect attacks through its militias. The problem lies in Tehran, not anywhere else. As I have previously stated, Iran must choose between becoming a normal country that plays a constructive role in the international community or remain a rogue state and assume the international consequences of its choice.

*The Turkish president and other Turkish officials have recently escalated their rhetoric in questioning the credibility of the Kingdom’s judiciary and held the Kingdom and its leadership responsible in Khashoggi’s case. How do you respond to such accusations?

- Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi citizen and there is no doubt that what happened to him was painful and unfortunate. The Kingdom has taken all measures to hold the perpetrators accountable and the accused have been referred to the judiciary. The judiciary in the Kingdom is an independent authority and no one can meddle in its affairs. We confront any development firmly and without hesitation, by taking the steps that are necessary to achieve justice, rectify any flaw and prevent mistakes from taking place again, while disregarding any claims and accusations.

As for the Turkish statements against the Kingdom, the Kingdom as the home of the two holy mosques, seeks strong ties with all Islamic countries, including Turkey. This is important for the interest of the region and joint Islamic work in particular. In the Kingdom, we work in service of the holy mosques and their visitors. We work on achieving the security and stability of our nation, not becoming embroiled in disputes that harm the interests of our nation and Islamic world. We will forge forward in achieving these goals, while ignoring statements made by some parties to conceal internal turmoil that everyone is aware of.

*Four years have passed since the Arab coalition kicked off its operations in Yemen. How do you assess the political and military progress that has been achieved and what are the prospects for resolving the crisis in Yemen, especially in wake of the Stockholm deal and terrorist Houthi attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations and its Najran and Abha airports?

- Many parties forget or claim to forget how the crisis in Yemen first broke out. The coalition operations began after the international community had exhausted all political solutions between Yemeni parties and the Houthi militias. One must be reminded that the Kingdom is the pioneer of the political solution. It presented the Gulf initiative and worked on achieving peaceful political transition in Yemen in 2011. It supported the national dialogue and presented over 7 billion dollars in economic support for Yemen between 2012 and 2014. Since 2011, the Kingdom’s efforts have sought to achieve smooth political transition in a manner that preserves the country’s independence and sovereignty and unity of its political and security institutions to prevent it from slipping into chaos.

Indeed, the Yemeni parties met in Riyadh and signed the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism. All Yemeni parties, including the Houthis, were present at the comprehensive national dialogue. Unfortunately, Iran obstructed the political process in Yemen through its proxy militias. It then started to occupy Yemeni cities and seize the state’s various capabilities. The Kingdom offered all possible opportunities to tackle the situation through peaceful means, but Iran was following a policy of imposing a status quo in Arab countries through the force of arms. Unfortunately, the international community at the time did not confront Iran’s expansionist and sectarian agenda. Iran therefore, continued to try, through its militias, to impose its control in Yemen. The Yemeni people and leadership, however, made a historic stand against this Iranian interference. Along with our brothers in the coalition, we responded to the appeal of the legitimate government to protect Yemen and its people and our national security. The Kingdom cannot accept the presence of illegal militias on our borders.

Most Yemeni territories have been liberated and we have supported all efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis. Unfortunately, the Houthi militias prioritize Iran’s agenda over the interests of Yemen and its people. We have recently witnessed the terrorist attack on oil facilities and Najran airport, which the Houthis boasted of claiming. This once again demonstrates that these militias do not care for the interests of the Yemeni people or any political process to resolve the crisis. Their actions reflect the priorities of Tehran, not Sanaa.

The Arab coalition’s stance is very clear about resolving the crisis. We support efforts to reach a political solution based on UN Security Council resolution 2216, the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism, and national dialogue outcomes. We accept the participation of all Yemeni parties in the political process, but according to the three references. The Kingdom will not accept the militias to remain outside state control. We will pursue this ultimate goal and maintain our operations and continue on offering support to the Yemeni people in their effort to protect their independence and sovereignty regardless of the sacrifices. The Kingdom will also maintain its humanitarian and economic relief in Yemen. We not only seek to liberate Yemen from the Iranian militias, but achieve prosperity and stability for all of the people of Yemen.

*You have spoken of a dream to transform the Middle East into the new Europe. How do you confront obstacles in reaching this dream given the major regional political upheaval and economic and development challenges?

- We must not become hostages of temporary conditions that prevent us from fulfilling our primary duty, as leaders in the region, of reviving our states. Today’s challenges must also not prevent us from working promptly to achieve a better future for the coming generations.

You mentioned political upheaval. This is undoubtedly taking place in the region. At the same time, however, we must look at the overall Arab region and realize that the majority of the countries are unanimous in prioritizing a dignified life for the people and achieving security and stability. The people do not want to be hostages to ideological conflicts that waste their potential. We are before a precedent in that everyone shares one goal. Competition between the majority of our countries focuses on reaching the best standard of living for the people, attracting investment and achieving development in all fields.

The source of political upheaval is well known. They are terrorist groups, such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and policies of the Iranian regime, the top sponsor of terrorism and extremism. We will not waste our time in offering partial solutions to extremism as history has proven the futility of such efforts. God willing, we will confidently forge forward in our approach in firmly confronting all forms of extremism and sectarianism.

The Kingdom is the focal point for Muslims and the home of the two holy mosques. It has been blessed with natural resources, a strategic location, and wise leaderships since the days of the founder and until the present reign of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Today, it is living in security, stability and prosperity. It is unbecoming for this great nation not to occupy leading positions in all fields regardless of the conditions and challenges. We will not rest until we first achieve this goal for our nation and later our brothers in the region.

*How do you assess the upheaval in Sudan and the political changes?

- We are greatly concerned with the security and stability of Sudan, not only due to the strategic importance of its location and danger of the collapse of its state institutions, but the strong fraternal ties that bind us. Our brothers and sisters in Sudan have been and continue to be a part of our social fabric. We will not spare an effort to achieve the security and stability of Sudan and its people. The Kingdom has offered an economic aid package to Sudan and deposited 250 million in its Central Bank. We will continue to support our brothers in all fields until Sudan achieves what it deserves in prosperity and progress.

*Three years after launching Saudi Vision 2030, where are we at?

- We moved from the planning and design phase to implementation on all levels, and started seeing results on the ground. In the financial sector, for example, we have spotted noteworthy progress after the launching of the Vision as the Saudi market joined three global indices, the FTSE 100 Index, the Morgan Stanley (MSCI) Emerging Markets Index, and S&P Dow Jones Indices. This will pump capital worth billions into the market. The Kingdom has seen a 40 % increase in investment in funds, a first since 2006. The Kingdom has recently achieved the greatest leap forward among some of the world’s most competitive countries in the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings 2019, ranking 26th, moving up 13 ranks compared to last year, and ranking 7th among G20 member states.

In the telecommunications and information sector, we witnessed remarkable development. The ratio of contribution of the digital economy to GDP increased both directly and indirectly, with the Kingdom becoming one of the top 10 fastest e-commerce growing countries worldwide with a rate of 32%. Simultaneously, Internet speeds have improved fourfold to accelerate digital transformation. The Kingdom was also the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to roll out 5G network services back in 2018 in the Eastern Region for trial. Today, we have 1,000 communication towers in the Kingdom that are offering this new service and expanding.

In the field of energy and industry, non-oil exports increased by 22% in 2018 compared to 2017, and we launched many industrial cities in different regions across the Kingdom. This confirms the keenness of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to uphold balanced and comprehensive development in various cities and regions, including the King Salman Energy Park (Spark), Jizan, and Waad Al Shamal where the first phase of the production of phosphates and phosphate fertilizers has been achieved, laying down the foundations for the second phase, which will make the Kingdom, God willing, the second largest producer of phosphate fertilizers globally.

I would like to note that what is happening in the Kingdom is not simply a set of financial and economic reforms aiming to realize specific figures, but a comprehensive restructuring of the Kingdom's macro-economy aimed at moving economic and development performance in both medium and long terms. We have undertaken major economic and structural reforms that contribute to fiscal balance and consolidation and the diversification of income sources, while maintaining macroeconomic growth, sustaining public finances, supporting social expenditures, raising government spending efficiency and stimulating the private sector, which is considered a key partner in growth and development, and achieving the Vision’s objectives.

*But some sides are speculating about ebbs in some of Vision 2030’s initiatives?

- What is happening in the Kingdom is a comprehensive structural change in the economy aimed at creating a shift in medium- and long-term economic performance. The Vision and its programs, like any strategic plan, must be brought up-to-date and modified according to arising conditions and data that come out during application. But that is conducted without hindering the pillars and objectives of the Vision and with the aim of achieving top results, especially at a time we have gained a higher quality of decision-making based on studies, analyses, figures, facts and data.

Responding to your question about some Vision-related initiatives going in decline: We do not expect this. The Vision’s programs are effectively contributing to the economic transformation process and we are now shifting from a rural economy to one that is characterized by productivity and global competitiveness.

*Some may argue that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) is giving the private sector a run for its money with its direct investments and mega projects. What role does it play in achieving the Vision and how can negative effects be avoided?

- In line with Vision 2030 and in order to achieve its objectives, it was important to review the role of the PIF and transform it into a state sovereign fund. In 2015 we re-launched PIF with a new vision and mission aimed at developing new sectors in Saudi Arabia, investing in leading international partnerships and the formation of a new board of directors under my leadership. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of staffers increased from 40 to nearly 500 employees. Meanwhile, PIF assets have increased from SR500 billion to SR 1 trillion, nearly doubling within two years.

The PIF is now a vital state instrument for economic diversification, and targets both domestic and international investments. Domestically, it targets major project investments that the private sector alone cannot finance, such NEOM, the Red Sea project and Qiddiya, that will offer dozens, if not hundreds, of good investment opportunities for the private sector.

For PIF and the government, it is utmost important to involve the private sector. We have earmarked 13 programs for privatization, giving the private sector a greater opportunity to participate in investment, achieve profitable returns and improve spending efficiency and services.

In terms of foreign investments, apart from achieving attractive returns on its assets, PIF will play an important role in establishing economic partnerships that will help boost knowledge exchange, stimulate high-efficiency investments and enhance local content, generating long-term returns for future generations. The PIF also targets new strategic sectors such as tourism and entertainment. These sectors have an important dimension in stimulating foreign investment, regional development, creating a large number of jobs and improving overall quality of life.

The PIF operates under an outstanding level of corporate governance and transparent investment strategy, which were approved after completing its reform and governance process in 2015. It operates within a system that includes a board, executive committee and investment committee that play clear roles in guaranteeing distinguished levels of professionalism in performance. The PIF portfolio also has investments distributed according to development priorities, such as in Saudi companies, promising sectors and major projects.

*What are the latest developments in the privatization program?

- We now have an exceptional and global center specialized in privatization that is built on the best practices drawn from experiences of more than 20 countries that have undertaken privatization in the past. When establishing the center, it was taken into account that it contains a legislative structure ensuring the rights of both the state and investors. We have identified promising opportunities for privatization in 12 sectors. Our goal from the privatization program is for it to strengthen the role of functioning government actors and to maximize the contribution of the private sector to GDP.

In 2019, the National Center for Privatization (NCP) supported the signing of five agreements with a total value exceeding SR 12.5 billion, inked by local and international companies in various fields and with foreign financing from six countries at a 70% rate. These agreements include projects that focus on sewage treatment, desalination plants and health services, namely through dialysis centers.

The NCP is currently working on finalizing agreements totaling over SR2 billion and that cover flour mills and medical and shipping services. These agreements are expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Work is also underway for privatizing education sector projects, expected in 2020 with investments adding up to about SR1 billion.

In the future, the private sector will also have the largest investment share in electricity sector projects, especially power generation plans and including major renewable energy projects previously announced.

*Amidst such economic transformation, what is your Highness's message to citizens?

- I am proud that the Saudi citizen is driving change at a time many feared the Vision will face resistance due to the size of the change it entails. Many have told me that the most difficult part I will face in realizing this strategic transformation is resistance. But I saw this as a very small factor when looking at Saudi youth that is now leading change.

I would like to pay tribute to the role of young people in the experience undertaken by the Kingdom. It is a young Vision with a young spirit. Discussions have shifted from a change desired from the state to the change we all make together.

*When following news about the anticipated Saudi Aramco’s IPO in global markets, we find there is a lack of information about the issue and the timeline. Where are matters now? And what actions have been taken in this regard?

- We are committed to the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, but under the appropriate circumstances and in a timely manner. As I mentioned previously, I expect that it will happen between 2020 and the beginning of 2021, and setting the location of the IPO now is premature. Much of the work has been successfully completed, and the timeframe for the offering will depend on several factors including: market conditions for the IPO, given its size, and Aramco's acquisition of a majority stake in SABIC from PIF.

The latter is a deal which would impact a stellar transformation through creating a fully integrated national energy and petrochemical company that will lead the global energy sector and further enhance Saudi Aramco's growth potential and profitability in volatile oil markets.

As for preparations for Aramco’s IPO, several important actions have been taken, including the issuance of the hydrocarbon tax system, the re-issuance of an exclusive franchise agreement, the appointment of a new board of directors and the first-ever releasing of Aramco’s annual financial report and audit of its oil reserves. All these measures reinforce transparency, which is a core principle of Saudi Vision 2030, which is committed to protecting the Kingdom’s interests and those of potential investors.

Saudi Aramco, for its part, has also logged several achievements within its internal program in preparation for the IPO. One of the most important features of the program was amending internal rules and regulations, the transformation into a joint stock company and releasing its financial report, meeting requirements of potential financial markets for the IPO.

This has left investors satisfied worldwide, as we have seen through the recent bond offering.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1511281/saudi-arabia

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Egypt’s former president Morsi dies in court after heart attack

1627471-1719476351.jpg?itok=qjxmg1Vu

 

Egypt's state TV says the country's former President Mohamed Mursi collapsed during a court session and died on Monday. (AP/File Photo)

Updated 11 sec ago

MOHAMED EL-SHAMAA

June 17, 201918:56

Morsi, was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention, says state TV

The former president died aged 67

CAIRO: The former Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, died in Cairo on Monday at the age of 67.

Egyptian state television announced that Morsi, who was ousted by the military on July 3, 2013, had been attending a court session at his trial on charges of espionage and links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It was reported that he collapsed in the courtroom inside a glass cage he and others had been sharing, before his body was transferred to a local hospital.

Morsi died from a sudden heart attack, state television reported early on Tuesday, citing a medical source. The source said the former president, who was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention.

Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq issued a statement saying: “The accused, Mohammed Morsi, in the presence of the other defendants inside the cage, fell unconscious, where he was immediately transferred to the hospital.

“The preliminary medical report stated that by external medical examination they found no pulse, no breathing, and his eyes were unresponsive to light. He died at 4:50 p.m. and no apparent injuries to the body were found.”

Sadiq added he had ordered the transfer of teams from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office and the Southern Cairo Prosecution Office to conduct an investigation into Morsi’s death, and to examine surveillance footage from the courtroom and collect witness testimonies.

He also ordered that a senior forensic committee headed by the chief medical officer and the director of forensic medicine to prepare a forensic report on the cause of death.

Various outlets say that a state of high alert has been issued by the military and the Ministry of the Interior throughout the country following the news, for fear of riots or activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi was a prominent figure.

Morsi became president in June 2012 after the first democratic elections in the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, 2011. He was Egypt’s fifth president.

He was born to a family of farmers on Aug. 20, 1951, in the village of Al-Adwa in Sharkia province. He married in 1978 and leaves behind his wife, five children and three grandchildren.

Following his deposition and arrest, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Oct. 22, 2016, over bloody clashes that took place on Dec. 5, 2012 in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi rejecting a constitutional declaration issued in November of that year.

Other sentences meant his total incarceration could have been up to 48 years, with the ongoing espionage case potentially carrying a further maximum sentence of 25 years.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1512086/middle-east

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JUNE 22, 2019 / 9:11 AM / UPDATED 25 MINUTES AGO

 

 

Exclusive: White House's Kushner unveils economic portion of Middle East peace plan

 

 

Matt Spetalnick, Steve Holland

9 MIN READ

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Saturday outlined a $50 billion Middle East economic plan that would create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies, and fund a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

The “peace to prosperity” plan, set to be presented by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner at an international conference in Bahrain next week, includes 179 infrastructure and business projects, according to details of the plan and interviews with U.S. officials. The approach toward reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process was criticized by the Palestinians on Saturday.

The ambitious economic revival plan, the product of two years of work by Kushner and other aides, would take place only if a political solution to the region’s long-running problems is reached.

More than half of the $50 billion would be spent in the economically troubled Palestinian territories over 10 years while the rest would be split between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. Some of the projects would be in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where investments could benefit Palestinians living in adjacent Gaza, a crowded and impoverished coastal enclave.

The plan also proposes nearly a billion dollars to build up the Palestinians’ tourism sector, a seemingly impractical notion for now given the frequent flareups between Israeli forces and militants from Hamas-ruled Gaza, and the tenuous security in the occupied West Bank. (For factbox with more on the plan see )

 

The Trump administration hopes that wealthy Gulf states and nations in Europe and Asia, along with private investors, would foot much of the bill, Kushner told Reuters.

“The whole notion here is that we want people to agree on the plan and then we’ll have a discussion with people to see who is interested in potentially doing what,” Kushner told Reuters Television.

The unveiling of the economic blueprint follows two years of deliberations and delays in rolling out a broader peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians, who are boycotting the event, have refused to talk to the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in late 2017.

Veteran Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi dismissed the proposals on Saturday, saying: “These are all intentions, these are all abstract promises” and said only a political solution would solve the conflict.

Kushner made clear in two interviews with Reuters that he sees his detailed formula as a game-changer, despite the view of many Middle East experts that he has little chance of success where decades of U.S.-backed peace efforts have failed.

“I laugh when they attack this as the ‘Deal of the Century’,” Kushner said of Palestinian leaders who have dismissed his plan as an attempt to buy off their aspirations for statehood. “This is going to be the ‘Opportunity of the Century’ if they have the courage to pursue it.”

Kushner said some Palestinian business executives have confirmed their participation in the conference, but he declined to identify them. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian business community will not attend, businessmen in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Reuters.

Several Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, will also participate in the June 25-26 U.S.-led gathering in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, for Kushner’s rollout of the first phase of the Trump peace plan. Their presence, some U.S. officials say privately, appears intended in part to curry favor with Trump as he takes a hard line against Iran, those countries’ regional arch-foe.

The White House said it decided against inviting the Israeli government because the Palestinian Authority would not be there, making do instead with a small Israeli business delegation.

POLITICAL DISPUTES REMAIN

There are strong doubts whether potential donor governments would be willing to open their checkbooks anytime soon, as long as the thorny political disputes at the heart of the decades-old Palestinian conflict remain unresolved.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is interviewed by Reuters at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The 38-year-old Kushner - who like his father-in-law came to government steeped in the world of New York real estate deal-making - seems to be treating peacemaking in some ways like a business transaction, analysts and former U.S. officials say.

Palestinian officials reject the overall U.S.-led peace effort as heavily tilted in favor of Israel and likely to deny them a fully sovereign state of their own.

Kushner’s attempt to decide economic priorities first while initially sidestepping politics ignores the realities of the conflict, say many experts.

“This is completely out of sequence because the Israeli-Palestinian issue is primarily driven by historical wounds and overlapping claims to land and sacred space,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for Republican and Democratic administrations.

Kushner acknowledges that “you can’t push the economic plan forward without resolving the political issues as well.” The administration, he said, will “address that at a later time,” referring to the second stage of the peace plan’s rollout now expected no earlier than November.

Kushner says his approach is aimed at laying out economic incentives to show the Palestinians the potential for a prosperous future if they return to the table to negotiate a peace deal.

Kushner stressed that governments would not be expected to make financial pledges on the spot.

“It is a small victory that they are all showing up to listen and partake. In the old days, the Palestinian leaders would have spoken and nobody would have disobeyed,” he said.

TRAVEL CORRIDOR

Kushner’s proposed new investment fund for the Palestinians and neighboring states would be administered by a “multilateral development bank.” Global financial lenders including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank plan to be present at the meeting.

The fund would include “accountability, transparency, anti-corruption, and conditionality safeguards” to protect investments.

A signature project would be to construct a travel corridor for Palestinian use that would cross Israel to link the West Bank and Gaza. It could include a highway and possibly a rail line. The narrowest distance between the territories, whose populations have long been divided by Israeli travel restrictions, is about 40 km (25 miles).

Slideshow (10 Images)

Kushner said that if executed the plan would create a million jobs in the West Bank and Gaza, reduce Palestinian poverty by half and double the Palestinians’ GDP.

But most foreign investors will likely stay clear for the moment, not only because of security and corruption concerns but also because of the drag on the Palestinian economy from Israel’s West Bank occupation that obstructs the flow of people, goods and services, experts say.

Kushner sees his economic approach as resembling the Marshall Plan, which Washington introduced in 1948 to rebuild Western Europe from the devastation of World War Two. Unlike the U.S.-funded Marshall Plan, however, the latest initiative would put much of the financial burden on other countries.

President Donald Trump would “consider making a big investment in it” if there is a good governance mechanism, Kushner said. But he was non-committal about how much the president, who has often proved himself averse to foreign aid, might contribute.

Economic programs have been tried before in the long line of U.S.-led peace efforts, only to fail for lack of political progress. Kushner’s approach, however, may be the most detailed so far, presented in two pamphlets of 40 and 96 pages each that are filled with financial tables and economic projections.

In Manama, the yet-to-released political part of the plan will not be up for discussion, Kushner said.

The economic documents offer no development projects in predominantly Arab east Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

What Kushner hopes, however, is that the Saudis and other Gulf delegates will like what they hear enough to urge Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to consider the plan.

The message Kushner wants them to take to Ramallah: “We’d like to see you go to the table and negotiate and try to make a deal to better the lives of the Palestinian people.”

 

Reporting By Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Ramallah; Editing by Ross Colvin and Chizu Nomiyama

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-plan-exclusive/exclusive-white-houses-kushner-unveils-economic-portion-of-middle-east-peace-plan-idUSKCN1TN0ES

 

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America launches the economic side of the Middle East peace plan amid skepticism

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Politics ofthe Manama ConferenceDeal Century

 2019/06/25 03:26:21

 

The first phase of President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan will kick off in Bahrain on Tuesday at a conference the White House calls an attempt to raise $ 50 billion in investments, but Palestinians make fun of it and say it is the "economy first" plan and doomed to fail. 
The two-day international meeting, led by Jared Kouchner, is described as the first part of Washington's long-awaited political plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which will be unveiled later.

But neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian government will attend the Manama meeting.

The meeting will see whether participants such as Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf Arab states will show any interest in making real donations to the US plan, which has already drawn strong criticism from Palestinians and others in the Arab world.

Bahrain has been preparing for the meeting for weeks. Bahrain is a close ally of the United States and hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

A senior Gulf diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the event, despite its supposed focus on the economy, Gulf Arab states hoped to use to show solidarity with the Trump administration over its tough approach to Iran.

Under the plan, donors and investors will contribute $ 50 billion to the region, including $ 28 billion for the Palestinian territories, the West Bank occupied by Israel and the Gaza Strip, $ 7.5 billion for Jordan, $ 9 billion for Egypt and $ 6 billion for Lebanon.

Of the 179 proposed projects, there is a $ 5 billion road to link the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"I laugh when they attack this as a 'century deal,'" Kouchner told Reuters, referring to the supposed name of the Trump peace plan over the past two years.

"If they have the courage to implement it, it will be 'the chance of the century'."

Kouchner presents his plan in two handbooks full of graphics and statistics similar to the investment prospectus and has been repeatedly called the "Action Plan". Kouchner is a senior adviser to Trump and his son-in-law, who comes from New York's real estate world.

In response to critics accusing Kouchner of trying to craft "economic peace," he told Reuters last week: "Many past attempts have failed. Let us rest ... and keep an open mind. "

Peace for Prosperity 
However, there are few opportunities for success. Trump acknowledges that the economic plan, called Peace for Prosperity, will only be implemented if a political solution is found to one of the most difficult conflicts in the world.

Such a solution must address long-standing issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the agreed borders, the security concerns of Israel, the Palestinian demands for their statehood, the fate of Israeli settlements and the military presence in the territories that the Palestinians want for that state.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera on Tuesday, Kouchner gave a rare glimpse into the potential political aspects of the plan, saying the deal would not comply with the Arab peace initiative, a Saudi-led initiative that has won Arab consensus since 2002.

"I think we all have to admit that if an agreement can be reached, it will not be like the Arab peace initiative," Kouchner told the island. Will be in a middle area between the Arab peace initiative and the Israeli position. "

The Arab initiative calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return for refugees, which Israel rejects.

There are continuing questions about the plan and whether the Trump team is planning to abandon the "two-state solution," which includes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

The United Nations and most of the world support the two-state solution that has been the cornerstone of every peace plan for decades.

But Trump's team, led by Kouchner and Trump Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, has consistently refused to commit to a two-state solution, keeping the political phase of the plan too secret.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump, is suffering from internal problems and faces elections and possible corruption charges after a long police investigation. And denies the commission of any irregularities.

"We will hear the American proposal with fairness and openness," Netanyahu said on Sunday. Despite the absence of ministers from the Israeli Government, an Israeli business delegation is expected to participate.

Palestinian leaders boycotted the workshop and refused to communicate with the White House accusing him of bias in favor of Israel following a series of recent Trump decisions. Kushner told Reuters that "some" Palestinian businessmen would attend but declined to give their names.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian authority exercises limited autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has been sharply critical of the chances of a successful meeting.

"The money is important and the economy is important, but the political solution is more important, and when a political solution is based on international legitimacy and the vision of the two countries, then we say hello to everyone who wants to help us," Abbas said.

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which runs the Gaza Strip, found itself in a rare agreement with its arch-rival Abbas.

"The question of Palestine does not represent it and is only represented by its people," said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official.

He added that Trump's approach "establishes the transformation of the cause of our people from political to humanitarian ... and the integration of occupation into the fabric of the region."

However, Kouchner insists that the economic plan aims to help the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table by showing the benefits that the peace agreement could bring.

Kouchner said that even without the representation of the Israeli and Palestinian governments, the presence of Israeli businessmen and journalists with their counterparts from the Arab world will be important at a time of heightened tension with Iran.

"People are aware that the real threat to that region is Iran and its aggression, and Israel and many other Arab countries have much more in common today than ever before," he said.

"Iran is at the forefront of the attention chain now," said David Makovsky, a Middle East expert in Washington, although the main focus of the event is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But Makovsky, whom the White House invited to participate as an observer, said Trump and Kouchner's plan would eventually succeed or fail in how to address key issues, not money.

"Nobody thinks he can solve this economically without addressing political issues."

https://www.shafaaq.com/ar/سیاسة/أمريكا-تطلق-الجانب-الاقتصادي-لخطة-السلام-في-الشرق-الأوسط-وسط-تشكك/

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Release date: 2019/6/26 0:04  183 times read
America launches the economic aspect of the peace plan in the Middle East amid resentment of the Palestinians
US President Donald Trump launched his $ 50 billion economic plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians in Bahrain on Tuesday, saying the investment-driven path to the Palestinians was a necessary precondition to ending decades of conflict.
Trump and Jared Kouchner, the White House's senior adviser, opened a two-day international meeting in Bahrain to rally support for the plan, which has been widely rejected by Palestinians and others in the Arab world. 
"We can transform this region from a victim of past conflicts into a model of trade and progress around the world," Kouchner said at the meeting, attended by IMF and World Bank chiefs. 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian authority exercises limited autonomy in the occupied West Bank, played down the chances of a successful meeting. 
"The money is important and the economy is important, but the political solution is more important. When there is a political solution based on international legitimacy and the two-state vision, then we say hello to everyone who wants to help us," he said.
Secrecy still surrounds the political divide of the US peace plan, which has been under way for nearly two years. Neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian government will attend the Manama meeting, in which many Arab countries abstained from participating or merely sending deputy ministers to attend. 
The meeting is being held in Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran on the one hand and Washington and its Gulf Arab allies on the other. All of them share Israel's hostility to Israel. 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump, said his country was open to the plan. 
Washington hopes the Gulf Arab states will show tangible interest in the plan, which expects donor countries and investors to pay $ 50 billion to the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.
"To be clear, the economic growth and prosperity of the Palestinian people can not be achieved without a lasting and just political solution to the conflict ... a solution that guarantees Israel's security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people," Kouchner said. 
"However, we will not discuss political issues today. We will do it in time. " 
It is not clear whether the Trump team is planning to abandon the "two-state solution," which includes the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. 
The United Nations and most of the world support the two-state solution, which has been the cornerstone of all peace plans for decades, but Trump has consistently refused to abide by it. 
Kouchner said in an interview with Al Jazeera television on Monday that Trump's plan would not comply with the Arab peace initiative, which has Arab consensus on the elements necessary for any agreement since 2002.
Any solution to the conflict must address long-standing issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the agreed borders, the easing of security concerns for Israel, the Palestinian demands for a state, the fate of Israeli settlements and the military presence in the territories that the Palestinians want to establish their state. 
The Arab initiative calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and for the right of return of refugees, which Israel rejects. 
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Kouchner "is committed to the initiative of Israeli colonial settlement councils." 
An Iranian official described Kouchner's plan as "shameful" and "doomed to failure."
Palestinian leaders boycotted the workshop in Manama and refused to communicate with the White House accusing him of bias toward Israel. Contrary to international norms, Trump recognized the disputed Jerusalem of Jerusalem in 2017 as a capital for Israel, a move that angered Palestinians and Arabs. 
However, Palestinian and Israeli businessmen, as well as some Gulf and US companies, including the Blackstone Group, whose chief executive Stephen Schwarzman said that Kouchner's economic plan was "implementable".
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Iraqi parliament hosts Shaath to discuss "century deal"

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The Politics ofthe Iraqi ParliamentDeal of the CenturyNabil Shaath

 2019/06/26 05:31:03

 

The foreign affairs committee of the Iraqi parliament hosted Wednesday Nabil Shaath, adviser to the Palestinian president. 
The committee is discussing with Shaath the "Deal of the Century", in which the United States is proposing a settlement of the Palestinian issue. 
A US-sponsored workshop on economic development in the Palestinian territories was launched Tuesday in the Bahraini capital, Manama, as part of a broader American initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the absence of the Palestinian side. 
The two-day "Peace for Prosperity" conference aims to raise $ 50 billion in investment over a 10-year period.

https://www.shafaaq.com/ar/سیاسة/البرلمان-العراقي-يستضيف-شعث-لمناقشة-صفقة-القرن/

 

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The external Iraqi parliament "stuck" to the Palestinian issue and the latter talking about receiving a bribe

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Politics of theCommittee on Foreign Relations ParliamentarySherko MohammedPalestinian issue of thecentury dealNabil ShaathMahmoud AbbasIsraelBahrain

 2019/06/26 07:16:21

 

The head of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, Sherko Mohammed, told a press conference held in the House of Representatives with the participation of members of the committee and the representative of the Palestinian president that the committee received a delegation representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas headed by Nabil Shaath and his accompanying delegation.

"The meeting was positive and discussed the common issues, and we stressed the firm position of Iraq to adhere to the Palestinian issue and develop joint parliamentary work between the Iraqi and Palestinian Council of Representatives and to carry out joint activities."

"Nabil Shaath gave a detailed explanation of the deal of the century and discussed important issues and how to solve them through dialogue and distance the region from the war," he said.

For his part, said the representative of Palestinian President Nabil Shaath, "Our presence in the House of Representatives is evidence of the return of democracy to Iraq and the support of all clear components."

"The Committee on Foreign Relations has declared its clear support for the Palestinian cause and stands by its side and its rejection of the deal of the century, an American attempt to end Palestine," he said, adding that "Israel wants to end the Palestinian presence in the Arab region and is trying to bribe the Palestinian people after all this steadfastness. A price for Jerusalem and independence. "

The foreign affairs committee of the Iraqi parliament will add Nabil Shaath, an adviser to the Palestinian president, on Wednesday to discuss the "deal of the century", in which the United States is proposing a settlement of the Palestinian issue.

A US-sponsored workshop on economic development in the Palestinian territories was launched Tuesday in the Bahraini capital, Manama, as part of a broader American initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the absence of the Palestinian side.

The two-day "Peace for Prosperity" conference aims to raise $ 50 billion in investment over a 10-year period.

https://www.shafaaq.com/ar/سیاسة/خارجية-البرلمان-العراقي-تتمسك-بالقضية-الفلسطينية-والاخيرة-تتحدث-عن-تلقي-رشوة/

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WhatsApp-Image-2019-06-26-at-6.18.23-PM-

The Foreign Relations Committee holds a dialogue seminar on the deal of the century and the Manama workshop with the participation of the adviser of Palestinian President Nabil Shaath

The Foreign Relations Committee, headed by MP Shirko Mir Weiss, held a dialogue seminar with the participation of Mr. Nabil Shaath, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the deal of the century and the Manama workshop and the latest developments in the Palestinian issue. 
He welcomed the Chairman of the Committee at the beginning of the symposium held at the headquarters of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the presence of the Adviser to the Palestinian President to the headquarters of the Committee and his visit to the House of Representatives to review the Iraqi-Palestinian relations and developments in the Palestinian situation, especially related to the so-called (deal century). 
In turn, Mr. Nabil Shaath, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stressed the depth of the historical relations between Iraq and Palestine and blessed the elimination of an organization calling for terrorism and unity in the face of sectarianism.
Mr. Shaath reviewed the developments in the peace process in the Middle East and related to the historic changes that took place and led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority and the return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the diaspora to contribute to the building of an independent Palestinian state that faltered later due to the imbalance of power and the bias of US policy in favor of the Zionist occupation. Peace initiatives.
The adviser warned the Palestinian president of the occupation sought to deepen its presence in the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and seek to consolidate its isolation from the Gaza Strip as well as continued targeting of Jerusalem and attempts to Judaize and impose the law of Jewish nationality on the Arabs of 1948 and the formation of a religious state, pointing out that the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people are fighting a difficult battle The Zionist entity, which exceeded all forms of racism existing throughout history, indicating the continued power to work on the external level to respond to attempts to install the Zionist entity on the Palestinian territories and the resistance of the deal century, which is a link within the ongoing conspiracy since the promise of Belvo . 
Shaath pointed out that the deal of the century represents an attempt to create conditions for the rapprochement between "Israel" and the Arab countries and work to confront Iran, stressing that the Arabs do not accept any relationship with the occupying entity and their adherence to grant the Palestinians all their rights.
Shaath stressed that there is no Arab country to agree to the deal of the century, strongly criticizing US policy on Jerusalem and the annexation of the Golan and the establishment of the Manama workshop. 
The Palestinian president's advisor pointed out that there are moves to strengthen internal unity and end the Palestinian division, especially as the Palestinian people are united in rejecting the deal of the century. 
For his part, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations MP Shirko Mir Wes on the stability of the position of the House of Representatives and the government and the Presidency of the Republic to support the Palestinian cause as a matter of principle, noting the readiness of the Council to cooperate with the Palestinian Legislative Council to develop bilateral relations and strengthen them politically, culturally and sports and in all other areas. 
MP Dhafer al-Ani, deputy chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, stressed the Iraqi position in favor of Palestinian rights and the commitment to the Palestinians' wishes or determination, calling for the strengthening of the Palestinian home front.
Mr. Nabil Shaath, advisor to the Palestinian president, exchanged views and opinions on the regional positions on the Palestinian issue and the alternatives available to the Palestinian Authority to guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people and the material and moral support provided to the Palestinian cause. 
At the end of the symposium, Shaath stressed that the rise of Iraq and the restoration of its role is a win for the Palestinian cause, which contributes to the strengthening of the Palestinian position towards the ideas that are not compatible with the solutions that are approved by most of the world on achieving peace and guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinian people. To face the occupation and defend Jerusalem, pointing to the existence of continuous relations with Iran and Turkey and every country that supports the Palestinian cause.
The Chairman and members of the Foreign Relations Committee also expressed their unlimited support to facilitate the legislation of any law in the House of Representatives guaranteeing the rights of Palestinian refugees in Iraq and all that serves the Palestinian cause. 

The seminar was attended by the Palestinian Ambassador in Baghdad, Mr. Ahmed Akl.

Department 
of Information House of Representatives 

26-9-2019

http://ar.parliament.iq/2019/06/26/لجنة-العلاقات-الخارجية-تعقد-ندوة-حوار/

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Iraqi protesters storm Bahrain embassy over Manama confab for deal of century

Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:04PM [Updated: Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:11PM ]
 
Iraqi protesters are seen in this video grab waving Palestinian flags over the walls of the Bahrain embassy in Baghdad on June 27, 2019.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Iraqi protesters are seen in this video grab waving Palestinian flags over the walls of the Bahrain embassy in Baghdad on June 27, 2019.

Scores of Iraqi people have stormed the Bahrain embassy in the capital city of Baghdad to protest Manama's decision to host a key summit where the US showcased its so-called deal of century to end Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Videos posted on social media on Thursday showed dozens of people with Palestinian flags marching outside the Bahraini diplomatic mission while some of them tried to climbing to the roof of an outbuilding.

Some reports also stated that the protesters had pulled down Bahrain's flag at the embassy.

An Iraqi official speaking condition of anonymity told the media that the protesters stayed in the garden of the embassy complex and did not enter the offices inside the compound.

adad52c1-7f18-4303-a988-82285a216e32.jpg Iraqi protesters set on fire an American flag outside the Bahrain embassy in Baghdad on June 27, 2019. (Twitter photo)

According to the official, Iraqi security forces tried to disperse the protest by opened fire in the air until reinforcements arrived to secure the Bahrain embassy, which is located in Baghdad’s western neighborhood of Mansour.

Bahrain recalls ambassador from Iraq

Following the protests, Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iraq for consultations.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain condemns the attack on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Republic of Iraq by the demonstrators (which) led to sabotage in the embassy building," the Bahraini foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

The protest indicate the growing outrage in the Muslim world against Bahrain's decision to host the Manama Workshop, an event that seeks to bring "peace" back to Palestine and Israeli-occupied territories through a deal masterminded by the Trump administration, in particular Jared Kushner, the US President's son-in-law.

The so-called "Peace to Prosperity" workshop opened in the Bahraini capital Manama on June 25 and ran through June 26.

The Palestinian leadership boycotted the meeting, leading critics to question the credibility of the event.

Earlier on Thursday, Bahrain had called for “peace” and “better” relations with Israel.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah said while his country -- alongside Egypt -- were the only two Arab countries to officially recognize Israel, “we know our brothers in the region do believe in it” as well.

Besides Bahrain and Egypt, Israel is believed to have secretly developed close ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

 

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/27/599604/Iraq-Bahrain-embassy-protest-ambassador-Israel-Palestine-deal-of-century

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Bahrain recalls ambassador to Iraq over embassy attack: statement

 
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RIYADH (Reuters) - Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iraq for consultations on Thursday after demonstrators broke into the courtyard of the kingdom’s embassy in Baghdad and took down the flag to protest a U.S.-led meeting in Bahrain on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain condemns the attack on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Republic of Iraq by the demonstrators (which) led to sabotage in the embassy building,” said a statement on the ministry’s website.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-plan-bahrain/bahrain-recalls-ambassador-to-iraq-over-embassy-attack-statement-idUSKCN1TS36F?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+(Reuters+World+News)&&rpc=401

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Baghdad: Demonstrators Raid Bahraini Embassy over Middle East Conference

 
 BasNews  27/06/2019 - 23:45  Published in Iraq

ERBIL - Protesters on Thursday evening raided the Bahraini Embassy in Baghdad to protest a US-led peace conference aimed to secure the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which was hosted by Bahrain.

The demonstrators were carrying the Palestinian flags, while burning the US and Israeli flags, Sputnik cited local sources in Iraq, adding that the protesters were particularly angry at the Bahraini FM for his statement during an interview with an Israeli TV channel regarding the conference.

The attack came while a three-day conference dubbed "Peace to Prosperity" has been ongoing in Bahrain with the presence of US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to secure a deal said to be the "Deal of the Century."

No further details are currently available on the demonstrations.

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