Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Sparks an outrage in the Muslim World

Khafee

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King Salman and Abbas discuss Jerusalem in Riyadh
It came as the Catholic church's top official in Jerusalem criticised the US's recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying the move had damaged Christmas celebrations and led to hundreds of people cancelling trips to the holy city
The National
December 20, 2017

wo21-Jerusalem-Latest.jpg

Saudi King Salman, right, receives Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh on December 20, 2017. Al Ekhbariya via AP

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas met with King Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday, with the Saudi king reiterating his country's position that the Palestinians have the right to an independent state with East Jerusalem as their capital, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

It comes after US president Donald Trump earlier this month recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, sparking widespread condemnation from both Middle Eastern leaders and the international community.

Mr Abbas's meeting with King Salman came as the Catholic church's top official in Jerusalem criticised the US move, saying it had damaged Christmas celebrations and led to hundreds of people cancelling trips to the holy city.

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said "dozens" of groups had pulled out of planned visits to the city after being scared off by the announcement and subsequent clashes.

He added that the heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem would find it difficult to accept an official request by US vice president Mike Pence to visit the city's holy Christian sites in January, calling for him to "listen more" to other Christians.

"Of course this created a tension around Jerusalem and this diverted attention from Christmas," the archbishop said of Mr Trump's December 6 decision.

"After this there are some tensions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem also. This scared many people, so we've had less people than expected."
He stressed, however, that they would continue with planned Christmas celebrations.

Meanwhile, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to New York with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Al Maliki, for Thursday’s UN General Assembly meeting on Jerusalem to try to stop America making what he said was “an unacceptable” move.

"We want America to turn back from this wrong and unacceptable decision," Mr Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, referring to the US's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. "God willing we will push through the General Assembly a resolution in favour of Palestine and Jerusalem.

"From now on we will be more active in defending the rights of Palestinians. We will work harder for the international recognition of an independent Palestinian state.”

Mr Cavusoglu will meet with Mr Al Maliki in Istanbul, from where they will head to the US. The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold an emergency session at the request of Muslim and Arab states.

The assembly is expected to vote on a draft resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision on Jerusalem’s status. Although the vote is non-binding, it carries political weight.

The US had already vetoed the draft in the 15-member UN Security Council on Monday. All other 14 members voted in favour of the draft, a move US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called “an insult” and “won’t be forgotten”.

On Tuesday, Ms Haley said that she will report back to Mr Trump with the names of those who support the draft resolution.
"The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us," said a letter from Ms Haley seen by AFP.

"We will take note of each and every vote on this issue," she wrote to several UN ambassadors.
On Twitter, Ms Haley said that "the US will be taking names" during the vote on Thursday.


Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said that he expected “overwhelming support”, adding that Jerusalem is an issue “to be resolved through negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The General Assembly will say, without the fear of the veto, that the international community is refusing to accept the unilateral position of the United States," he said.

No country has veto powers in the General Assembly, contrary to the council where the US, along with Britain, China, France and Russia, can block any resolution.

In a move of support for the Palestinian people, Indonesia said on Wednesday it will allow tariff-free imports and give direct market access to some Palestinian goods beginning in the new year.

Currently, Palestinian goods come to Indonesia through Jordan, but Indonesia's trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita said that some goods will starting January 1 be shipped directly to his country.

He added that Indonesia had stated its support for the Palestinians to become a member of the World Trade Organisation.
"We're opening market access for dates and olive oil. This is as requested by Palestine," he said. "We're also asking them for a list of products they want to export and they need to import."

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, has long been a supporter of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. The Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.

Several UN resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territory seized during the 1967 war.

* With reporting by Agence France-Presse

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/king-salman-and-abbas-discuss-jerusalem-in-riyadh-1.689232
 

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@khafee

Would be interested to know your take on whether you feel there is stuff going on behind the scenes regarding Trump administration and the major gulf states regarding the anti-Iran alliance....and behind the scene efforts involving Israel too in that....and this optical stuff (jerusalem capital recognition by Trump admin + UN drama) is just somewhat a cover fire/smokescreen/diversion etc essentially.

Others are free to comment as well.
 

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Turkey and Israel’s deep trade ties expose the emptiness of Erdogan’s rhetoric over Jerusalem
Without a shift in Turkey’s economic connections to Israel, Ankara's fiery words amount to very little, writes Joseph Dana
Joseph Dana
December 21, 2017


Turkish Airlines and Pegasus operate 12 flights a day between Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Reuters

More than a decade ago, Turkey set out to rebrand itself as an international tourism and trade hub. A crucial part of this transformation was Turkish Airlines. The national flag carrier now flies to more destinations than any other airline in the world and has remade Istanbul into a global city. Given the airline’s reach, it is surprising that one of its most popular and lucrative routes is Tel Aviv to Istanbul. Turkish Airlines is the second most popular carrier out of Tel Aviv after Israel’s national carrier El Al.

With more than 12 flights a day from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, divided between Turkish Airlines and the low-cost carrier Pegasus, Turkey is a dominant force in the Israeli aviation market. But this is only one aspect of a deep economic partnership between Turkey and Israel. Despite fiery rhetoric in support of Palestinians from Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country stands alone in the Muslim world as one of Tel Aviv’s dependable partners.

In the fallout following US president Donald Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel there have been condemnations across the Arab world. Turkey has been a loud voice in this process. Mr Erdogan hosted an emergency summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul. At the end of the conference, Turkey announced it would recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and open an embassy there. Mr Erdogan’s attempts to lead the defence of Jerusalem have caused tension with Arab leaders over broader regional affairs.

There was, however, something missing from Turkey’s verbose proclamations of support for the Palestinian people: a plan to cut economic ties with Israel. Beyond the popularity of the Tel Aviv-Istanbul flight route, Turkey enjoys a vibrant economic relationship with Israel crowned by shared attempts to upend the European natural gas market.

In 2009, Israel discovered large reserves of natural gas off its Mediterranean coast. While the exact size of the gas fields is unknown, they are rumoured to contain at least 150 years’ worth of reserves. The problem is how best to export the gas to European markets keen to wean themselves off Russia’s supply. Instead of working with Cyprus and Greece or investing in liquefaction units, Tel Aviv has been partnering closely with Ankara to create a pipeline into Turkey. The prospect of this energy partnership has helped smooth the political tensions between the two countries that had bubbled to the surface in the past seven years.

As part of its attempts to make itself an international energy trading hub, Turkey has worked closely with Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan to create pipelines that bring hydrocarbon resources into Turkey and then export them to European markets. In July, Bloomberg reported Turkey was pushing Israel to lean on Cyprus in the hopes of persuading the Cypriots to allow a pipeline connecting Israel and Turkey to pass through their territory. The economic partnership is not limited to natural gas. As a result of the Syrian civil war, Turkey has been using Israel’s Haifa port as an important gateway to landlocked countries such as Jordan. Turkish goods used to flow through Syria but now they go through Israel.

The economic relationship aside, Mr Erdogan has made support of Palestinians a key part of his domestic populist appeal. With his fervent support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot in Gaza, Hamas, Mr Erdogan has used the issue of Palestine to maintain relevance after the Arab Spring. Turkey used its stable position at the outset of the uprisings to push for a complete transformation of the Middle East. Ankara had hoped the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power and Turkey would emerge as a neo-Ottoman regional superpower.

This strategy failed. Mr Erdogan found himself under attack at home from protesters of all stripes and fighting to solidify his regional power after betting on the wrong side in the Arab Spring. As a result, the logical solution for Mr Erdogan was to wholeheartedly embrace the Palestinian struggle.

Mr Erdogan saw himself as the leader who would liberate Palestine and succeed where the Arab world had failed before him. While this persona played well for the home crowd, the economic relationship between Israel and Turkey was never in danger, even at the height of the diplomatic impasse following Israel’s attack on a Turkish aid ship to Gaza in 2010. Political relations strained but, through it all, Israelis kept flying Turkish Airlines and the natural gas partnership advanced. Without a shift in Turkey’s deep economic connections to Israel, fiery words about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians amount to little more than hollow rhetoric.

It is hardly surprising that Mr Erdogan would use the US decision on Jerusalem to drape himself in the Palestinian colours and proclaim himself a true friend of the Palestinians. The words uttered by Mr Erdogan are ultimately a sad reminder of regional division, which Israel has used to its own advantage.

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/turkey-and-israel-s-deep-trade-ties-expose-the-emptiness-of-erdogan-s-rhetoric-over-jerusalem-1.689532
 

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Israel to name Jerusalem train station after Trump
By Susan McFarland | Dec. 27, 2017


Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A new train station set to be built in Jerusalem will be named after President Donald Trump, Israel's transportation minister said Wednesday.

Transport chief Israel Katz said the station will pay tribute to the 45th U.S. president largely because he officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, earlier this month.

The train station, set to be built within a few years, will be located near the Western Wall in an area that draws about 11 million tourists a year.

"The Western Wall is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I decided to name the train station that leads to it after president Trump -- following his historic and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel," Katz said.

Katz said the high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway will be a top priority. The project, under construction since 2001, has had numerous setbacks and delays.

Trump's declaration for Jerusalem triggered weeks of protest in Arab and Muslim countries -- with at least 12 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli security forces over the matter.

The United Nations General Assembly, during an emergency session last week, decisively approved a resolution condemning Trump's decision, which also seeks to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The train station will be built in the city's Jewish Quarter. Plans for the railway include a two-mile tunnel to reach inside the Old City's walls. Building the tunnel could be delayed if any archaeological sites are discovered.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/12/27/Israel-to-name-Jerusalem-train-station-after-Trump/8251514380194/?nll=1
 

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Palestinians reject Trump threat to halt US aid over Jerusalem crisis
It came as a Palestinian teenager was shot dead in clashes with the Israeli army near the West Bank city of Ramallah

The National
January 03, 2018


US president Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Pensacola, Florida on December 8, 2017. Carlo Allegri / Reuters
The Palestinian leadership on Wednesday flatly rejected US president Donald Trump's threat to halt financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority over its refusal to accept the United States as a mediator of peace negotiations.

It came as a Palestinian teenager was shot dead in clashes with the Israeli army near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Musab Firas Al Tamimi, 17, became the fourteenth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the unrest sparked by Mr Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.

"Jerusalem and its holy places are not for sale, not for gold and not for silver," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said in response to Mr Trump's threat on Twitter to halt the more than US$300 million of annual aid that the US gives to the PA.



The Palestinian leadership, which wants East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future independent Palestinian state, has refused to meet American envoys since Mr Trump's announcement in December, saying the US is now unqualified to be a mediator in the peace process. Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war and then annexed it in contravention of international law.

In two tweets on Tuesday, Mr Trump confirmed prior Palestinian assessments that his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital had removed the holy city from any negotiating agenda, saying "We have taken Jerusalem … off the table". He dismissed Palestinian anger over this, asking why the US should give the Palestinians money when they were "no longer willing to talk peace".

In response, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)'s executive committee, issued a statement saying it was Mr Trump who had demolished peace prospects: "By recognising occupied Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Donald Trump has not only violated international law, but he has also single-handedly destroyed the very foundations of peace and condoned Israel's illegal annexation of the city."

"We will not be blackmailed," she added. "President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions."

Earlier, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, threatened to cut off funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) if the Palestinian leadership continued its refusal to negotiate under US auspices. The US is the largest donor to UNRWA and Palestinians voiced concern that such a move would heighten economic and social instability in the West Bank and Gaza. It would also impact Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan with whom the UN agency also works.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said "the threats of the US are part of its barbaric and inhuman behaviour concerning the justice of the Palestinian issue and the rights of the Palestinian people. Such behaviour necessitates Palestinian unity and a strong position on the part of the international community, and the Arab and Islamic countries".

Palestinian and Israeli analysts predicted that Mr Abbas would not give in to Mr Trump's threat and that the Palestinian president would begin seeking alternative sources of funding.

"Jerusalem for the Palestinian public is the essence of the conflict so the leadership cannot compromise," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza City. "Abu Mazen (Mr Abbas's kunya) wants to end his political life as a national leader, not the person who caved in to American and Israeli pressure regarding Jerusalem."

"The Palestinians were ready to reach compromises, but not to exclude Jerusalem from the final status negotiations," Mr Abusada added. "If you take Jerusalem out, what is left to talk about? Even if you give the Palestinians an empire, without Jerusalem it won't be accepted."

Hasan Khreisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said: "No one can give any concessions on Jerusalem, not Abbas, not anyone. It's Jerusalem, it belongs to all Arabs and Muslims across the world and to Christians so it is impossible to make concessions on Jerusalem."

Ms Haley's threat against UNRWA was taken seriously by Palestinian leaders who viewed it as an effort to liquidate the refugee issue — the core Palestinian grievance that dates back to the displacement of seven hundred thousand Palestinians by expulsion or flight during the 1948 nakba (catastrophe) that accompanied the establishment of the Israeli state.

Ashraf Ajrami, the former PA minister for prisoner affairs, said that if UNRWA does not get its required funds there will be "social, economic and security" problems, while Palestinian Legislative Council member Mustafa Barghouthi said he believed that Ms Haley had "co-ordinated" her stance with Israel and was aiming to "eliminate the refugee issue and exclude it from any future arrangement".

According to the 1993 Oslo Agreement on self-rule, a solution to the refugee issue is supposed to be negotiated in final status talks.

Israeli ministers, meanwhile, praised Mr Trump's threat on Tuesday, with the far-right education minister, Naftali Bennett, stating that "president Trump does not fear to tell the truth, even if it is not popular. The truth is Jerusalem has always been and will be Israel's capital and that no peace deal could ever be based on the division of Jerusalem."

But Tzipi Livni, an Israeli MP from the opposition Zionist Union party argued that Mr Trump's posture was harming Israel's interests. "A serious and responsible government would stop mixing up politics with national security and would quietly sit down with the president of the United States and explain Israel's real interests, including preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and continuing the security co-operation with the Palestinian Authority," she tweeted.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/palestinians-reject-trump-threat-to-halt-us-aid-over-jerusalem-crisis-1.692382
 

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Trump administration prepares to cut UN money for Palestinian refugees
US president Donald Trump will likely to send only $60 million of the planned $125 million first installment to the UN Relief and Works Agency

Associated Press
January 15, 2018

WEB-MIDEAST-PALESTINIANS-UNRWA.jpg

A Palestinian refugee sits outside his home in a narrow street of the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, on January 9, 2018. US officials said the Trump administration is preparing to withhold tens of millions of dollars from UNRWA. Alaa Badarneh / EPA


The Trump administration is preparing to withhold tens of millions of dollars from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, cutting the year's first contribution by more than half or perhaps entirely, and making additional donations contingent on major changes to the organisation, according to US officials.

President Donald Trump has not made a final decision, but appears more likely to send only $60 million (Dh220.4m) of the planned $125 million first installment to the UN Relief and Works Agency, said the officials, who were not authorised to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Future contributions would require the agency, facing heavy Israeli criticism, to demonstrate significant changes in operations, they said, adding that one suggestion under consideration would require the Palestinians to first re-enter peace talks with Israel.

The State Department said on Sunday that "the decision is under review. There are still deliberations taking place". The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the matter.

The administration could announce its decision as early as Tuesday, the officials said. The plan to withhold some of the money is backed by secretary of state Rex Tillerson and defense secretary James Mattis, who offered it as a compromise to demands for more drastic measures by UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the officials said.

Ms Haley wants a complete cutoff in US money until the Palestinians resume peace talks with Israel that have been frozen for years. But Mr Tillerson, Mr Mattis and others say ending all assistance would exacerbate instability in the Mideast, notably in Jordan, a host to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and a crucial US strategic partner.

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Read more

Palestinians reject Trump threat to halt US aid over Jerusalem crisis

Sweden warns US against cutting UN aid to Palestinians

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In another sign of the growing tensions, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas railed at Mr Trump in a fiery, two-hour-long speech on Sunday, saying "shame on you" for his treatment of the Palestinians and warning that he would have no problem rejecting what he suggested would be an unacceptable peace plan. The speech by Mr Abbas ratcheted up what has been more than a month of harsh rhetoric towards Mr Trump since the president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

The US is the UN agency's largest donor, supplying nearly 30 per cent of its total budget. The agency focuses on providing health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel's establishment in 1948. Today, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, mostly scattered across the region.

Eliminating or sharply reducing the US contribution could hamstring the agency and severely curtail its work, putting great pressure on Jordan and Lebanon as well as the Palestinian Authority. Gaza would be particularly hard hit. Some officials, including Israelis, warn that it might push people closer to the militant Hamas movement, which controls Gaza.

The US officials said any reduction in American assistance could be accompanied by calls for European nations and others to help make up the shortfall.

The US donated $355 million in 2016 and was set to make a similar contribution this year; the first installment was to have sent this month.

But after a highly critical January 2 tweet from Mr Trump on aid to the Palestinians, the State Department opted to wait for a formal policy decision before sending any of the $125 million.


Mr Trump's tweet expressed frustration over the lack of progress in his attempts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and he pointed the finger at the Palestinians. "We pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect," he said. "But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

Although Trump referred to all US assistance to the Palestinians, the contribution to refugee agency would be the first to be affected.

Three days after the tweet, at a January 5 White House meeting, senior national security officials try to find a way forward. Led by representatives from the State Department and Pentagon, all but one of the members of the "Policy Coordination Committee" agreed to continue the funding, officials said.

The lone holdout was Ms Haley's representative, who insisted that Mr Trump's tweet had set the policy and the money must be cut off, the officials said.

The meeting ended in a stalemate.

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Interview: Head of UNRWA in Lebanon defends work as US threatens to cut aid

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Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu then weighed in, telling his cabinet that he agreed with the critique of the agency. He said the agency only perpetuates problems and should cease operating in the region. Mr Netanyahu and other Israelis accuse it of contributing to Palestinian militancy and allowing its facilities to be used by militants. They have also complained that some of its staff are biased against Israel.

Mr Netanyahu suggested transferring the agency's budget to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which aids refugee matters everywhere in the world. It was not immediately clear whether any withheld US assistance would be shifted.

Mr Netanyahu's position, coupled with Ms Haley's firm opposition to the funding, led Mr Tillerson, with the support of Mr Mattis, to propose the $60 million compromise, the officials said.

Mr Trump, whose recognition last year of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announcement of plans to move the US embassy to the holy city had upset the Palestinians, was said by one official to have expressed cautious backing of the compromise.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/trump-administration-prepares-to-cut-un-money-for-palestinian-refugees-1.695402
 

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Abbas wins renewed EU backing for Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem
Robin Emmott
JANUARY 22, 2018


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union assured President Mahmoud Abbas it supported his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state, in the bloc’s latest rejection of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

At a meeting in Brussels with EU foreign ministers, Abbas repeated his call for East Jerusalem as capital as he urged EU governments to recognise a state of Palestine immediately, arguing that this would not disrupt negotiations with Israel on a peace settlement for the region.

While Abbas made no reference to Trump’s move on Jerusalem or U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the city on Monday, his presence at the EU headquarters in Brussels was seized on by European officials as a chance to restate opposition to Trump’s Dec. 6 decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Mogherini, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, called on those involved in the process to speak and act “wisely”, with a sense of responsibility.

“I want to reassure President Abbas of the firm commitment of the European Union to the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states,” Mogherini said.

Before Abbas’ arrival, she was more outspoken, saying: “Clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem. That is a very diplomatic euphemism,” in reference to Trump’s position.

But Mogherini said she still wanted to work with the United States on Middle East peace talks and had discussed ways to restart them late last year with Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

She played down the timing of the vice president’s visit to Israel when Abbas was in Brussels, saying it was a coincidence.

Deputy German Foreign Minister Michael Roth told reporters that Trump’s decision had made peace talks harder but said all sides needed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas also struck a more diplomatic tone than in his recent public remarks, including earlier this month when he said he would only accept a broad, internationally-backed panel to broker any peace talks with Israel.

“We are keen on continuing the way of negotiations,” Abbas said. “We are determined to reunite our people and our land.”

In another gesture of support, EU foreign ministers discussed whether to increase the EU’s aid to the Palestinian Authority, after the United States said last week it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give the U.N. agency that serves the Palestinians. No decisions were taken.

But Abbas’ call for the European Union to immediately and officially recognise the state of Palestine won little support in the lunch meeting, diplomats said.

SLOVENIAN DECISION?
While nine EU governments including Sweden and Poland already recognise Palestine, the 28-nation bloc says such recognition must come as part of a peace settlement.

Only Slovenia has recently raised the possibility of recognising the state of Palestine. A parliamentary committee there is due to consider the issue on Jan. 31, but it remains unclear when the parliament could recognise Palestine.

That reflects the European Union’s dual role as the Palestinians’ biggest aid donor and Israel’s biggest trade partner, even if EU governments reject Israeli settlements on land Israel has occupied since a 1967 war - including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The European Union also wants the Palestinians to remain open to a U.S.-led peace plan, expected to be presented soon by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Abbas said there was “no contradiction between recognition (of Palestine) and the resumption of (peace) negotiations.”

Instead, France wants to push the European Union to offer closer trade ties through a so-called EU association agreement, an EU treaty covering unfettered access to the bloc’s 500 million consumers, aid and closer political and cultural ties.

“We want to say to Mahmoud Abbas that we want to move ... towards an association agreement and to start the process already,” said France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

But offering an EU association agreement to the Palestinians was also fraught with difficulties, while Germany’s Roth expressed some reservation in the closed-door meeting and Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the EU would need to offer something similar to Israel, diplomats said.

Under EU rules, the agreements need to be agreed with sovereign states. France argues that the EU has an association agreement with Kosovo, whose independence is not recognised by all countries, including EU member Spain.

Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels and Marja Novak in Ljubljana, Editing by William Maclean
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-abbas/abbas-wins-renewed-eu-backing-for-palestinian-capital-in-east-jerusalem-idUSKBN1FB1NR
 

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The Palestinian representative played a song on his mobile phone & danced at the UN as a response to Nikki Haley announcing that the U.S. will be cutting aid to Palestinians unless they recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
 

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<...>
There was, however, something missing from Turkey’s verbose proclamations of support for the Palestinian people: a plan to cut economic ties with Israel. Beyond the popularity of the Tel Aviv-Istanbul flight route, Turkey enjoys a vibrant economic relationship with Israel crowned by shared attempts to upend the European natural gas market.

In 2009, Israel discovered large reserves of natural gas off its Mediterranean coast. While the exact size of the gas fields is unknown, they are rumoured to contain at least 150 years’ worth of reserves. The problem is how best to export the gas to European markets keen to wean themselves off Russia’s supply. Instead of working with Cyprus and Greece or investing in liquefaction units, Tel Aviv has been partnering closely with Ankara to create a pipeline into Turkey. The prospect of this energy partnership has helped smooth the political tensions between the two countries that had bubbled to the surface in the past seven years.

As part of its attempts to make itself an international energy trading hub, Turkey has worked closely with Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan to create pipelines that bring hydrocarbon resources into Turkey and then export them to European markets. In July, Bloomberg reported Turkey was pushing Israel to lean on Cyprus in the hopes of persuading the Cypriots to allow a pipeline connecting Israel and Turkey to pass through their territory. The economic partnership is not limited to natural gas. As a result of the Syrian civil war, Turkey has been using Israel’s Haifa port as an important gateway to landlocked countries such as Jordan. Turkish goods used to flow through Syria but now they go through Israel.
<...>
https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/turkey-and-israel-s-deep-trade-ties-expose-the-emptiness-of-erdogan-s-rhetoric-over-
jerusalem-1.689532
Ironic.

As we read this and ponder over international economic relations, and the reality of the linkages between sworn foes, we have to think about the recent exchanges of terse and bitter words between the Turks and the Egyptians. A few words as preliminaries.

Turkey has had trouble with Greece, a headache that she has now distributed to Cyprus, about where Turkey ends and Greece begins. The international law of the sea and other arms of international law define various concepts: territorial waters, right of innocent passage, exclusive economic zone, flight information region, the imposition of safeguards within the flight information region.

Territorial waters used to mean a distance of 3 miles from the coastline of a state; it now means a minimum of 6 miles in disputed or troubled points, but generally 12 miles out in most places. The borders of Greece and Turkey are one of these 'disputed or troubled points', and the territorial waters are set at 6 miles at the junction of the borders of these two states, largely because Turkey does not recognise UNCLOS, where the territorial waters were defined legally to be 12 miles.

Even within territorial waters, anybody has the right of innocent passage. India can, in principle, send civil and military shipping to Iranian points on a course that takes the vessels within 12 miles of the Pakistani coast, but the row that would be raised only has to be imagined. The point is that even military vessels have a right of innocent passage; if the missiles on board are not turned to points on Pakistani soil, for example, something that can never be determined satisfactorily, or if there are no Zodiac boats on board filled with armed-to-the-teeth insurgents of one variety or the other, international law permits the passage of military vessels.

In the context of Turkey and Greece, thereafter of Turkey and Cyprus, territorial waters are an issue.

The trouble started sometime in the 6th century BC, when the Lydians were overwhelmed by the Persian Achaemenid Empire; it had existed between around 1200 BC to 546 BC, and the last Lydian King was as-rich-as Croesus of the fabled wealth himself. When the Persians came to power, they had to deal with the Greek settlements of Ionia.

Here is a map and a description of Ionia:

1518060737659.png


A look at the coastline will explain the reason for the present territorial waters trouble between Greece and Turkey. The description of the ancient land of Ionia, from whose name we get Yavana in Indian languages, the name for the curtain on dramatic stages, the Yavanika, and the root of the system of medicine that we call 'Unani'; Ionian was also sometimes spelt, by the Greeks and their neighbours, as Iavonians.

About Ionia:

Ionia was of small extent, not exceeding 150 kilometres (90 mi) in length from north to south, with a breadth varying from 60 to 90 kilometres (40 to 60 mi), but to this must be added the peninsula of Minas, together with the two islands. So intricate is the coastline that the voyage along its shores was estimated at nearly four times the direct distance. A great part of this area was, moreover, occupied by mountains. Of these the most lofty and striking were Mimas and Corycus, in the peninsula which stands out to the west, facing the island of Chios; Sipylus, to the north of Smyrna, Corax, extending to the south-west from the Gulf of Smyrna, and descending to the sea between Lebedus and Teos; and the strongly marked range of Mycale, a continuation of Messogisin the interior, which forms the bold headland of Trogilium or Mycale, opposite Samos. None of these mountains attains a height of more than 1,200 metres (3,940 ft). The district comprised three extremely fertile valleys formed by the outflow of three rivers, among the most considerable in Asia Minor: the Hermus in the north, flowing into the Gulf of Smyrna, though at some distance from the city of that name; the Caster, which flowed under the walls of Ephesus; and the Maeander, which in ancient times discharged its waters into the deep gulf that once bathed the walls of Miletus, but which has been gradually filled up by this river's deposits. With the advantage of a peculiarly fine climate, for which this part of Asia Minor has been famous in all ages, Ionia enjoyed the reputation in ancient times of being the most fertile of all the rich provinces of Asia Minor; and even in modern times, though very imperfectly cultivated, it produces abundance of fruit of all kinds, and the raisins and figs of Smyrna supply almost all the markets of Europe.

All these are relevant to today's problems. More anon.

An exclusive economic zone is a different concept, but allied. States can claim the space out at sea up to 200 (nautical )miles, 370 kms., to keep things simple, from the baseline as their exclusive economic zone. They have NO control over the right of passage through the waters on the surface; those are defined without ambiguity as international waters. They MAY claim exclusive rights over fishing, and exclusive rights to exploit the seabed. OIL AND NATURAL GAS RESOURCES are among the rights that may be claimed. And there is where the points of friction are.

I would like to continue by defining (as seen from a height of 35,000 feet) the situation between Turkey and Greece, between Turkey and Cyprus, between Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt, and what was mentioned in the reproduction above, Turkey, Israel and Cyprus. If anyone is left awake after reading this, that is. [And after my power breakfast, @jbgt90]
 

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With the permission of all who have NOT read my introduction to the warm alliance between Turkey and Israel, I would like to complete my note.

So what does UNCLOS have to do with Turkey and Israel getting friendly? And why on earth does Turkey have to reach out to Israel to influence Cyprus? All this sounds zany; look at the map and see where Turkey is, and Cyprus and Israel. What could be the possible reason?

For starters, because Greece has islands only a few kilometres from Turkish shores, Turkey cannot claim the UNCLOS defined 12 nautical miles territorial waters limit; if it did so, several of the islands might come into Turkish territorial waters, and the Greeks would object. Very hard. Similarly, the Greeks cannot claim THEIR limits, based on the islands' position + 12 nautical miles; it would probably put them ashore on Turkish beaches! So (1) Turkey has decided not to endorse or ratify UNCLOS, and both Turkey and Greece have decided to set their respective territorial waters limits at 6 nautical miles, half the standard limit nowadays.

What adds salt to these open wounds is the discovery of vast reserves of natural gas off Turkish shores, reserves that fall within the territorial waters of the Greek islands (there are three sets of these, but I don't want to overload members, who are already staying away in their hordes!).

Secondly, Turkey does not recognise Cyprus. So, no question of negotiating a peaceful settlement of the problem between Turkey and Cyprus. What problem? Why, that Cyprus is the closest landfall for the product of the natural gas fields in that part of the Mediterranean. So two things happen:
  1. Cyprus and Egypt come to an agreement on the exploitation of these resources, and Egypt suddenly finds Turkey breathing heavily in its direction;
  2. Turkey has to ask Israel to speak to Cyprus, since it cannot do so itself.
And that in brief is what the thrust and parry is all about.
 

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1518161415463.png


The Calypso field, containing an estimated 170-230 BCM, will make it even more difficult for the Leviathan partners to sign export deals.

The Cypriot media has reported the discovery of a major natural gas field in Cypriot economic waters, 75 kilometers off the island’s southern coast. The reservoir reportedly contains 170-230 BMC of gas, 70% as much as the Tamar reservoir in Israel’s territorial waters. The reservoir, which is located in bloc 6 and is called Calypso, will be developed by a European consortium composed of Italian company ENI and French company Total SA.

According to the reports, the drilling results confirmed “sufficient and encouraging signs” of a natural gas field. Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said, “The findings are encouraging, but we need more time for analysis in order to provide final confirmation that there is a gas discovery. Meanwhile, I am unwilling to talk about quantities or any other matter.” The final results of the drilling are expected to be published within a few days. Lakkotrypis added that the geologic structure of the sea bottom at Calypso was similar to that of Egypt’s Zohr discovery.

According to Israeli energy sector sources, although the reports of the discovery were published only two days ago, rumors leaked as long as two weeks ago, and “The reports should be taken with a grain of salt, because Cyprus is currently in the middle of an election campaign.”

If Calypso proves to be a real discovery, it is not good news for Israel. At a time when there are still not enough contracts to develop the second stage of Leviathan, and it is unclear when export contracts will be signed, Cyprus is likely to become one of the main players in the natural gas market.

“Cyprus will be able to export easily to Egypt’s liquefaction facility at Damietta or the local market in Egypt, and can do so before Israel begins exporting there,” a source with energy expertise told “Globes.” In Israel, developing reservoirs and gas export plans take many years to implement. For example, the Leviathan reservoir, which was discovered in 2010, will begin supplying gas only a decade later, in 2020. ENI, on the other hand, made history by developing and connecting Egypt’s huge Zohr reservoir in two and a half years. ENI is also a partner in the Damietta liquefaction facility in Egypt, which is likely to make it even easier for Cyprus to export gas to Egypt.

ENI’s partner in Calypso, Total, is also one of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration companies. The two partners are extremely large companies with huge equities, and will not have to raise money on the stock exchange in order to finance development, a factor that will significantly shorten the development processes.

Is Israel, which plans to begin exporting its gas, in need of rescue? The answer is yes. If the reports in Cyprus turn out to be true, Cyprus can become a significant player in the natural gas sector, and can offer more attractive prices than Israel, because Tamar currently sells gas at a relatively high price of $5.40 per BTU, a fact that is causing public controversy. It is therefore unlikely that that the price for exports will be less than the price for the domestic market, because that would be liable to generate public anger.

https://oilandgasvision.com/major-cypriot-offshore-gas-field-discovered/
Oil expert: Cyprus's new gas discovery supports Egypt's transformation into a regional power center
Thursday 08 February 2018
...

Egypt is the largest country with an infrastructure in the gas industry in the Mediterranean region, which includes Cyprus, Israel, Greece, Lebanon and Syria, and because we are in the gas industry since times memorial, the facilities of reception, treatment and separation, distribution of gas through networks.. And also linking the Arab gas line, which makes us in a privileged position, and make neighboring countries always look at us.

The oil expert explained that the investor is interested in reducing his expenses, and that the presence of a strong Egyptian infrastructure for the Mediterranean waters, raises the value of any discovery, and increases the proportion of commercial feasibility because of the facilities available there.
...

https://www.elbalad.news/3160678
 

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Trump to Putin: 'Now is the time' for Israeli-Palestinian peace
By Susan McFarland
Feb. 13, 2018

(UPI) -- During a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday, President Donald Trump said it's time to work toward peace between Israel and Palestine.

The call began with Trump offering condolences about Sunday's crash of Saratov Airlines Flight 703, the White House said in a statement.

Trump said, if needed, the United States will assist Russian authorities in their investigation of the crash that killed all 71 people on board after takeoff from a Moscow airport.

During the call, Putin mentioned a meeting Tuesday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

In response, Trump said "now is the time to work toward an enduring peace agreement," and echoed the importance of taking action to ensure the denuclearization of North Korea.

During his meeting with Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, Putin said he could no longer accept the United States being a mediator in talks with Israel.

"We state that from now on we refuse to cooperate in any form with the U.S. in its status of a mediator, as we stand against its actions," Abbas told Putin.

The Palestinian leader has boycotted the Trump administration since the U.S. president declared last month that Jerusalem is recognized as Israel's capital.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2018/02/13/Trump-to-Putin-Now-is-the-time-for-Israeli-Palestinian-peace/8661518528695/?nll=1
 

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