6 بلاگ - جدیدترین اخبار ایران و جهان

ISIL leader in Yemen captured, says Saudi-led coalition | Yemen News

Saudi and Yemeni forces have captured the head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL, or ISIS) branch in Yemen, according to an official.

Abu Osama al-Muhajer was captured in a June 3 raid on a house that was under surveillance, Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Thee other members of the group, including its chief financial officer, were also caught in the 10-minute operation.

Al-Maliki did not specify the location of the house but said there were no civilian casualties.

Weapons, ammunition and telecommunication devices were also seized during the raid, the coalition said, describing the operation as “a significant blow to the terrorist group Daesh [ISIL[, especially in Yemen”.

The statement did not say where the men were now being held. It also did not provide details on why the Saudi military was announcing the success of the raid three weeks after it took place.

ISIL’s Yemen offshoot was established in late 2014. In early 2015, a Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen to support the country’s internationally recognised government, after Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sanaa.

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

ISIL has launched a string of attacks since it was formed.

Its most devastating took place in March 2015, when suicide bombers unleashed enormous blasts at two Shia mosques in Sanaa, that killed 137 people.

In late 2015, ISIL fighters killed the governor of the southern port city of Aden and, in May 2016, a pair of ISIL suicide bombings in the same city targeted young men seeking to join the army, killing at least 45.

ISIL, originally an offshoot of al-Qaeda, took control of around a third of Iraq and Syria in 2014 but has since lost its territory there.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

Kushner says economic plan is necessary pre-condition to peace | Israeli–Palestinian conflict News

White House adviser Jared Kushner has branded the United States’ plan for the Middle East “the opportunity of the century” for the Palestinians, but said their acceptance was a pre-condition to peace.

His comments on Tuesday came as he began promoting the US government’s economic blueprint for investment in the region during workshop in Bahrain, billed as the first part of Washington’s broader plan to resolve decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The two-day event in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, is boycotted by the Palestinian Authority, which has rejected it as an ill-fated attempt to “liquidate the Palestinian cause”. The Israeli government has also not sent representatives but several officials from regional countries are in attendance.

Addressing the attendees, Kushner, who is also US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said: “Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary pre-condition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues.”

While the workshop will not address political solutions, Kushner recognised in his speech the need to take them up later.

“To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict – one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people,” he said.

Trump has taken an unapologetically pro-Israel line during his presidency, with moves including his controversial recognition of Jerusalem in late 2017 as Israel’s capital. Kushner acknowledged widespread scepticism about the US president’s intentions but said the Palestinians had been ill-served by previous peace-making efforts.

“My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you,” he said.

He dismissed the mocking description of the US peace plan as the “deal of the century” but said: “This effort is better referred to as the opportunity of the century, if the leadership has the courage to pursue it.”

Investment in occupied territories ‘beggars belief’

The political details of the White House’s plan, which has been almost two years in the making, remain a secret.

Its economic proposal, however, makes no mention of a Palestinian state or an end to Israeli occupation. Instead, it calls for $50bn in investment over 10 years in the Palestinian territories and their Arab neighbours. In total, 179 local projects bankrolled by a “master fund” would cover areas ranging from water and agriculture to education and healthcare. 

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan said the most remarkable part of Kushner’s opening presentation was the complete lack of any mention of the Israeli occupation.

“All of these things that he described implied that the Palestinians would have completely control of their territory whether on land or sea,” Jordan said from Washington, DC.

“As we know, much of what the Palestinians have been able to do or not able to do what has been proscribed by the Israeli authorities,” she added, noting that freedom of movement in the occupied West Bank is “more of a notion rather than a reality”.

Jordan cited the inability of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to have full control over their freedom of movement and their territories, as well as to bring money and equipment to build up the economy as clear indicators that cast big doubts on the feasibility of Kushner’s economic plan.

“It is rather difficult to talk about economic investment and development when you don’t have the underlying political and legal frameworks actually established to make all these other development plans workable,” she said.

‘Political solution more important than money’

Still, Washington will be hoping that attendees in Manama such as wealthy Gulf states will show a concrete interest in the plan.

Saudi Arabia – a close US ally which shares a common foe with Israel in Iran – expressed support on Tuesday for “international efforts aimed at improving prosperity, investment and economic growth in the region”.

But Riyadh reiterated that any peace deal should be based on the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative that has been the Arab consensus on the necessary elements for a deal since 2002.

That plan calls for a Palestinian state drawn along borders which predate Israel’s capture of territory in the 1967 Middle East war, as well as a capital in occupied East Jerusalem and refugees’ right of return – points rejected by Israel.

But in an interview with Al Jazeera shortly before his departure for Bahrain, Kushner said the Arab Peace Initiative was no basis for the US’s Middle East peace plan.

“I think we all have to recognise that if there ever is a deal, it’s not going to be along the lines of the Arab peace initiative,” he said. “It will be somewhere between the Arab peace initiative and between the Israeli position,” he added.

Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments are attending the curtain-raising event in Manama, which Lebanon and Iraq are staying away from.

Palestinian rejection and protests

Over the past two days, Palestinians in the occupied territories have protested against the US-led Middle East peace plan.

Palestinian leaders, who have refused to engage with the Trump administration accusing it of being the most biased towards Israel in US history, have also been scathing about its prospects of success.

“Money is important. The economy is important. But politics are more important. The political solution is more important,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday.

For his part, Ismail Haniya, leader of Hamas, the group administering the besieged Gast Strip, described the event in Manama as “a political event with a financial and economic camouflage”.

The workshop will “lay the foundation for terminating the Palestinian cause,” Haniya said, adding that “it gives the greenlight to the Zionist enemy to extend its occupation and control over the entire West Bank.”

Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza have called for more protests to be held on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

‘Climate apartheid’: World’s poor to suffer most from disasters | News

The world is on course for “climate apartheid”, where the rich buy their way out of the worst effects of global warming while the poor bear the brunt, according to a United Nations human rights expert. 

Philip Alston, the special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, issued the warning in a new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday. 

“Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction,” Alston said in a statement. “It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.”

While people living in poverty were responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they have the least capacity to protect themselves, Alston said. 

“We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer,” he added. 

There was no shortage of global alarm bells over climate change – including record temperatures, rapidly melting icecaps, unprecedented wildfires, as well as more frequent floods and hurricanes – but they “seem to have remained largely unheard so far,” the report said. 

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Marseille in France, Alston condemned world leaders for failing to act and called for “societal transformation” to address the threat. 

The world was “sleepwalking into a climate change horror story,” Alston said. “If there is going to be any chance of preventing horrific global warming we need to be undertaking dramatically affirmative measures now,” he said. 

“The only solution is for governments to adopt a major re-engineering of the economies.”

In his report, Alston said business was supposed to play a vital role in coping with climate change, but could not be relied on to look after the poor.

He cited vulnerable New Yorkers being stranded without power or healthcare when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, while “the Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and power from its generator”.

Relying exclusively on the private sector to protect against extreme weather and rising seas “would almost guarantee massive human rights violations, with the wealthy catered to and the poorest left behind”, he wrote.

The report criticised governments for doing little more than sending officials to conferences to make “sombre speeches”, even though scientists and climate activists have been ringing alarm bells since the 1970s.

“States have marched past every scientific warning and threshold, and what was once considered catastrophic warming now seems like a best-case scenario,” he went on, adding that the fossil fuel industry is continued to be subsidised with $5.2 trillion a year.

Since 1980, the United States alone had suffered 241 weather and climate disasters costing $1bn or more, at a cumulative cost of $1.6 trillion.

There had been some positive developments, with renewable energy prices falling, coal becoming uncompetitive, emissions declining in 49 countries, and 7,000 cities, 245 regions, and 6,000 companies committing to climate mitigation.

However, despite ending its reliance on coal, China was still exporting coal-fired power plants and failing to crack down on its own methane emissions; and Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro planned to open up the Amazon rainforest for mining, end demarcation of indigenous lands, and weaken environmental protection.

“In the United States, until recently the world’s biggest producer of global emissions, President [Donald] Trump has placed former lobbyists in oversight roles, adopted industry talking points, presided over an aggressive rollback of environmental regulations, and is actively silencing and obfuscating climate science,” Alston wrote.

Outrage over Ethiopia’s continuing internet blackout | News

An internet shutdown has been in force across Ethiopia since Saturday, after a group of soldiers staged a failed coup in Amhara state, the birthplace of many of Ethiopia’s emperors as well as its national language, Amharic.

The outage has frustrated citizens who rely on online services for information and for conducting business in one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Alp Toker, executive director of NetBlocks, a nonprofit organisation that monitors internet censorship, condemned the decision to shut down the internet on the anniversary of a set of reforms that were announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and that aim to facilitate free speech.

“On 22 June 2018, his government declared free expression a foundational right and ordered the unblocking of over 200 websites. Instead, exactly one year later, the entire internet has been blocked and Ethiopia is digitally isolated from the world,” Toker said.

“At a time when the nation should be reflecting on the weekend’s events and coming to terms with the loss of life, they are instead denied information and a voice. The loss of dignity and symbolism couldn’t be more striking,” he told Al Jazeera.


Ethiopians now rely on national television to follow updates on the failed coup [Mulugeta Ayene/AP]

‘Can’t check messages’

Ethiopia was sub-Saharan Africa’s second fastest-growing economy last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. With an estimated population of 110 million people, its projected growth rate for 2019 is 7.7 percent. 

Increasing, internet access is key to unlocking the country’s economic potential. But access to online services remains highly restricted, according to a report by independent watchdog Freedom House.

The roughly 16 million internet users in Ethiopia have experienced internet shutdowns since 2015.

On Tuesday, Ethiopians were still unable to access the popular social messaging app Telegram as well as Facebook, Twitter and other online services.

Text messaging was also disrupted without any warning, sparking anger and frustrating many.

“I can’t check my messages. Even when I try to make phone calls, it is not very clear. It looks like the signals have also been affected. This is not nice at all,” Addis Ababa resident Makda Gebru told Al Jazeera.

“I have some very important emails to send to people outside Ethiopia, but I have to wait for the internet to be restored,” Gebru added.

Internet cuts in Ethiopia are nothing new, and residents aren’t sure when the practice will end.

On June 11, many Ethiopians woke up to an online blackout. At the time, no explanation was offered by the state-run Ethio Telecom, the sole provider of internet services in the country.

A week later, internet and text messages services were restored. While Ethio Telecom offered apologies to its subscribers, again, there was no explanation for what caused the disruption. 

News reports said the internet blackout was meant to block the leak of national exam answers.

Ethiopia government says rebellion quashed after arrests made

Intermittent internet outages have taken a toll on Ethiopia’s fledgling economy. Hardest hit are businesses that rely heavily on online services.

“After a series of unexplained internet cuts spanning earlier this month, internet users and businesses were already losing patience and money,” Toker said.

“NetBlocks estimates that Ethiopians lose at least $4.5m each day the internet is cut. The true price is probably higher because hard-earned investor and consumer confidence has now evaporated.”

The internet blackout that followed the failed coup on June 22 forced Ethiopians to rely on national television and radio for information and updates.

There have been claims and counterclaims by authorities since Saturday’s killings.

The failed coup is seen as the biggest challenge yet to sweeping political and economic reforms that Abiy kick-started after he took power in April 2018.

“Switching off access will only delay and radicalise critical voices as the government is likely to realise when the shutdown ends and Ethiopia’s internet users start coming back online,” Toker pointed out.

The Ethiopian government said it is back in control of the northeastern state of Amhara after the failed coup.

But there’s still no word on when internet services will be restored.

Egypt arrests activists over alleged anti-government plot | News

Egyptian authorities have arrested at least eight people, including prominent activists in the country’s 2011 uprising, accusing them of a plot to bring down the government.

The arrests drew condemnation by Amnesty International, which described Egypt as “an open-air prison” where no opposition or independent reporting was allowed.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Egyptian ministry of interior said Zyad Elelaimy, a former legislator and member of the secular Egyptian Social Democratic Party, was held along with seven other people.

The ministry said those detained were loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt designated a “terrorist” group in 2013.

It added that the eight suspects were the most prominent figures detained, but did not specify how many others were arrested.

Authorities said they had also identified and targeted 19 companies and “economic entities” run via “secret methods” by Brotherhood leaders and the “provocateur elements” loyal to it.

Elelaimy’s party was one of the main protest groups in the 2011 uprising that led to the departure of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, but it also opposed the government of Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader who became the country’s first freely elected president in 2012.

Morsi was toppled a year later in a military coup led by then-army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and promptly arrested.

Last week, he collapsed during a court appearance in the capital, Cairo, and shortly afterwards was pronounced dead.

Morsi’s death prompted criticism of el-Sisi’s government, with human rights groups accusing it of mistreating the former president and failing to provide adequate medical care or prisoner rights, charges the Egyptian authorities have denied.

Secular activists

In its statement, the interior ministry accused Elelaimy and other detainees of involvement in a plan financed through Brotherhood leaders abroad “to carry out violent and disorderly acts against state institutions simultaneously with creating a state of revolutionary momentum”.

It accused five individuals outside Egypt, including former presidential candidate Ayman Nour and prominent TV personalities Moataz Matar and Mohamed Nasser of involvement in the alleged plot.

Economist Omar el-Shenety and journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad were also arrested, it said.

Monis was the campaign manager for opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahi, the candidate who ran against el-Sisi in the 2014 presidential election. El-Sisi won that vote with almost 97 percent.

Abdelaziz el-Husseini, a senior leader in the Karama, or Dignity party, said Elelaimy and Monis took part in meetings with political parties and opposition legislators to discuss possibilities to run in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Their latest meeting was late on Monday in Cairo, he added.

“These public meetings are legitimate. They are members in legitimate parties and absolutely have no ties to the Brotherhood,” he told The Associated Press news agency.

The meetings included the Civil Democratic Movement (CDM), a coalition of liberal and left-leaning parties, which called for their release on Tuesday.

In a statement, the CDM denied Elelaimy and the others arrested had any connections with the Brotherhood.

One of Elelaimy’s colleagues said he believed the arrest was linked to the coalition’s move to seek more members to prepare for next year’s elections.

“We have nothing to do with the Brotherhood … I am truly astonished and I don’t know why security would be upset that we want to take part in the elections in the framework of the law and constitution,” CDM member Khaled Dawoud told Reuters news agency.

Amnesty criticised the arrests as part of “the Egyptian authorities’ systematic persecution and brutal crackdown on anyone who dares to criticise them”.

“The crackdown leaves no doubt about the authorities’ vision for political life in Egypt; an open-air prison with no opposition, critics or independent reporting allowed,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s North Africa director of research, said in a statement.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

UK suspends new arms export licences to Saudi-led coalition | News

The UK government has said it will not grant any new licenses for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia or its coalition partners fighting in Yemen, after a court ruled last week that such sales were unlawful.

Britain’s Department for International trade issued a formal notice on Tuesday saying it would abide by the ruling made by the court of appeal, but that it will also appeal the judgment.

“While we do this, we will not grant any new licences for exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners (UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt) which might be used in the conflict in Yemen,” read a statement from the department. 

“Extant licences – those granted before this judgment – are not immediately affected by the Court Order. Exporters may continue to export under extant licences. But we are required by the Court to reconsider the decisions we made about those licences.”

The court ruled on Thursday that the process by which arms export licenses had been issued was unlawful, in what was heralded as a landmark decision by campaigners.

‘Historic’ UK decision outlaws arms sales for Daudi war on Yemen

The decision followed a challenge by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) that accused the UK government of licensing arms sales despite a clear risk their use could breach international humanitarian law.

The UK’s arms sales have significantly bolstered the Saudi-led coalition’s capability to carry out air attacks in Yemen. The final six Typhoon jet fighters of 72 ordered in 2007 were delivered in 2017. The following year, Riyadh signed a memorandum of intent to buy an additional 48 Typhoons from the UK.

CAAT has argued for three years that the sales break UK laws, which block export licences if there is a clear risk of weapons being used in “serious violations” of international humanitarian law.

Cold Australian nights, even in the tropics | Australia News

The far north and far south of Australia both registered their lowest temperature in more than five years on Tuesday morning, according to Weatherzone.

In Tasmania, Hobart’s -0.2 degrees Celsius shortly before 5am on Tuesday was the city’s lowest temperature since 2013. It was also its third coldest morning in the last 20 years.

In the tropical north, Darwin Airport dipped to 12.7C just before 4:30am on Tuesday, which was their lowest temperature in eight years. Just to the ease of Darwin, Middle Point’s 4.8C was its lowest temperature since at least 2001.

While cold mornings are common in Australia during winter, the chill on Tuesday morning was given a boost by dry air in both Tasmania and the north. Dry air allows much more cooling of the ground because it prevents the formation of mist or dew, both of which act as insulation for the surface.

Darwin Airport’s coldest morning on record is 10.4C during July 1942, while Hobart’s lowest was minus 2.8C, from July 1981 and June 1972.

South Australia has seen temperatures plummet well below zero, severely damaging soft crops. The Bureau of Meteorology said Monday’s low of -5.7C at Renmark, in the state’s Riverland, was the equal-second lowest temperature on record for the town.

Meteorologist Matthew Bass said it was the region’s sixth consecutive day below zero.

“Those sort of temperatures are not what we see very frequently in South Australia … It’s a very significant, severe low temperature.”

Air from the Antarctic has been drawn over Australia by a series of active weather systems and these events are a legacy of that source area. Persistent high pressure has kept the air in place and the skies mostly clear.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

‘Not a word’: Aung San Suu Kyi criticised over Rakhine silence | News

United Nations investigator Yanghee Lee has expressed deep concern over potential human rights abuses committed by Myanmar’s military under the cover of a mobile phone blackout in parts of the Southeast Asian country.

“This is the first time they’ve ever declared an internet blackout. This worries me very much and I think it should worry the international community, as well,” Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

Her comments came hours after she called for the immediate lifting of the restrictions imposed on Friday by Myanmar’s security forces in parts of Rakhine – where a brutal army crackdown has already forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh – and Chin states in the west of the country.

Lee reported that eight townships in Rakhine and one in Chin had been blacked out, with no media access and serious restrictions on humanitarian groups. 

In Rakhine, Myanmar’s security forces are currently fighting the Arakan Army, a group that recruits from the mainly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine population and is battling for greater autonomy for the state.

Lee spoke to Al Jazeera’s Peter Dobbie from Rome about the situation in Rakhine, the media blackout and the stance of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader.

Al Jazeera: What do you think the Myanmar military may be doing?

Yanghee Lee: One can only guess what they are doing, but judging from past experience in 2016 and 2017, when they called for a clearance operation, we know what happened: they drove out about 800,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh. And now this is the first time they’ve ever declared an internet blackout. This worries me very much and I think it should worry the international community, as well.

Al Jazeera: Are they acting with impunity, and are they acting with the green light of the civilian administration?

Lee: They are acting with impunity, but when it comes to clearance operations or any security issues, the civilian government has absolutely no power over the military under the current constitution – and therefore that’s why there is a need for constitution reform.

But without a constitutional reform and the way the situation is now, the military and the security forces can do whatever they want under the name of national security.

THE LISTENING POST: Reporting Myanmar’s Rohingya story (9:53)

Al Jazeera: So many people fled crackdown two years ago and live in refugee camps across the border in Bangladesh. How many people are left in Rakhine to victimise in this way, if you’ve got it right?

Lee: We really don’t know the exact number of the Rohingya left; there is an estimate of about 350,000 to 450,000 Rohingya left.

But this clearance operation is not geared against the Rohingya this time. It is geared against the Rakhine Buddhist community, all the civilians and other ethnic minorities in the Rakhine state.

Al Jazeera: Have you relayed these reports to the relevant military authorities inside Myanmar, and if you have, what was their reaction?

LeeI haven’t because they do not engage with me. Myanmar wants me replaced, so they will not engage with me. But I am sure they have seen or heard what I’ve said through media releases and and social media and other means … I have no back-door conduit to the military. I don’t think anyone does.

Al Jazeera: People outside the region might be thinking, ‘where is Aung San Suu Kyi in all this, why are we not talking to her? Why is she not talking to the outside world about this?’

LeeI’d like to know that, too. She had attended the ASEAN conference … but she has not spoken out about the issue in Rakhine state when the Rohingya were being driven out, and now with the ethnic Rakhine community she has not said a word about protection of the civilians.

In the past few months, civilians have been killed, they’ve been detained, they’ve been killed in detention, and children have been killed.

These are ethnic Rakhine and other minorities residing in Rakhine state. She’s not said a word about these people either.

Rohingya crisis: Volunteers document survivor stories (2:44)

Al Jazeera: If you had the opportunity to direct a direct message at Aung San Suu Kyi now, what would that message be?

Lee: I would want her [you] to see what is happening in the Rakhine state for yourself.

Al Jazeera: Why is this still happening in Rakhine state? About two years ago, it was appalling, and you seem to believe it is still appalling and it is still happening. What is the mindset of the military? Is their go-to position a scorched-earth scenario? Is that what they want to get to?

LeeYes. We’ve seen it in the 1990s in northern and eastern part of Myanmar, the scorched-earth campaign, and we’ve witnessed it in different periods from 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017, which was the climax of the scorched-earth [campaign], what I’ve always called hallmarks to genocide, and now I would like that this has been a genocide in the making and it’s still going on.

But now these clashes and this blackout is not focused against the Rohingya, it’s focused against … the Rakhine, they are not minorities, they are the majority in Rakhine state, and this really troubles me because now they are attacking all civilians, whether they are Rohingya or others, and we are seeing this in Kachin and northern Shan, there are still clashes, there are still internally displaced people [IDPs], right now we have about 35,000 IDPs who are not Rohingya.

Jared Kushner on Israel-Palestine deal: Time to try something new | Palestine

US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” – his administration’s proposal for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – kicked into gear in Manama, Bahrain this week as officials from the region gathered for the so-called “Peace to Prosperity” workshop.

Already, sceptics are voicing concern, saying the American side is using money to bribe the Palestinians. 

The initial economic stage of the deal hopes to drum up $50bn in investment, money that primarily is expected to come from other Arab nations, principally in the Gulf. Participants of the Manama meeting will discuss projects and conditions for investments in more detail. Then, based on the outcome of this meeting, the next step would be to fashion a political settlement that would translate financial commitments into reality on the ground in Palestine.

However, Palestinians have derided the plan as an “economy first” approach that is doomed to fail. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is arguing for a reverse order: a political settlement first, money later – an approach that would tackle the difficult questions of establishing a Palestinian state, end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and allow refugees to return.

Palestinian leaders boycotted the June 25 and 26 workshop, saying the gathering circumvents a political settlement based on a two-state solution, and is an ill-fated attempt by the US administration to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause.

I think we all have to recognise that if there ever is a deal, it’s not going to be along the lines of the Arab peace initiative. It will be somewhere between the Arab peace initiative and somewhere between the Israeli position.

Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the US president

However, the senior adviser to the US president and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – who has been tasked with leading the process – told Al Jazeera the reaction was “fairly predictable”. He said he believed the event would be a success despite the boycott, citing the presence of delegates from regional countries and a large number of international investors.

“What [the Palestinian leadership] have been saying is a lot of hot rhetoric about rejecting everything before they even see it, which is, in my opinion, not a very responsible position.” 

When questioned about why the proposal did not want to settle some of the political questions that could stave off conflict before it pours money into infrastructure, Kushner said: “That’s been the traditional thinking, and that has not worked.”

“The president is not a traditional politician. He wants to do things in a different way. If we can get people through this process to look at this problem differently, to see what the future could be, then I think that could be a very very successful thing.”

Outlining the Trump administration’s “different” approach, he said: “What we have tried to do is help people identify what a future could look like. And hopefully we get people to all agree … and then we get people to look at, maybe, let’s commit to the future in the event that there is a peace agreement. Perhaps that will create a different condition through which people can then approach some of these political issues that have been unresolvable for a very long time.”

“It’s a problem that has been unsolved for many, many years and I think that a lot of the criticisms we get are from people who have tried to do this in the past and have failed and then they criticise us for not doing it the same way that they’ve done it,” he said.

Kushner called the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative “a great effort” but said it is not possible to solve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a deal along those lines.

“I think we all have to recognise that if there ever is a deal, it’s not going to be along the lines of the Arab peace initiative. It will be somewhere between the Arab peace initiative and somewhere between the Israeli position,” he said.

He also defended Trump’s 2017 decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying: “Israel is a sovereign nation; a sovereign nation has the right to determine where their capital is and America has the right to recognise the decision.” He said the relocation of the embassy should not affect final-status negotiations with the Palestinians.

Kushner said that on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, there are voices who accuse the other of having no interest in peace. But he added that peace needs to come from compromise and negotiation.

“If we want to find a pathway forward, it means that both sides need to find a place where they both feel that they can gain more than they give, and move forward and have the opportunities to live better lives,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera News

Hatice Cengiz: UN ‘must take action now’ over Khashoggi’s murder | Jamal Khashoggi News

Geneva, Switzerland – Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has called for an international probe into his murder, days after a United Nations expert report blamed Saudi Arabia for his killing inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

“This is the first report that says loud and clear how to proceed,” Cengiz said on Tuesday, addressing diplomats and media at the United Nations in the Swiss city of Geneva.

“We need an international investigation into Jamal’s murder,” she added. “Not only high-level officials are involved in the killing, but the report says Saudi Arabia has tried to eliminate the evidence of it. It’s scandalous.”

In her 100-page report, which was made public on June 19, Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Khashoggi’s death constituted a premeditated extrajudicial killing for which Saudi Arabia was responsible.

Callamard is due to officially present the report to the UN’s Human Rights Council on Wednesday 

Speaking at the same event as Cengiz, Callamard said Khashoggi’s killing “is the symbol of a pattern around the world, which the international community must respond to energetically”.

‘Joints will be separated’: Grim new details of Khashoggi murder

‘International crime’

The killing of Khashoggi by a team of Saudi operatives inside the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey’s largest city on October 2 last year provoked outrage worldwide and marred the image of the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. His body has never been found.

Cengiz said nearly nine months after the killing, she still has not overcome the trauma of his death.

“I still ask myself if he may still be alive, if he is somewhere,” she said. “I hope the report does not remain dead word, it should not be shelved. The UN must take action now.”

Callamard said Saudi Arabia violated the Vienna Convention on consular relations, the UN charter on the prohibition of the use of force in times of peace as well as the principle of the right to life.

“The world cannot turn a blind eye. All these violations make Khashoggi’s killing an international crime and for that reason the UN and the international community must be able to investigate and be prepared to take the needed actions in response,” she said.

UN: Saudi Arabia must accept responsibility for Khashoggi murder

The targeted killings of journalists, dissenters and human-rights defenders, more generally, are on the increase, warned Callamard, adding that the most worrying pattern is the impunity that surrounds those actions.

In addition, exile cannot grant dissidents and journalists immunity or safety from the threats posed by police states, Callamard said, referring to the dangerous rise of states’ surveillance over individuals.

Following the release of the report, UN member states could now request an international investigation to take place into Khashoggi’s murder.

However Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the secretary-general of the No Peace Without Justice NGO, was doubtful of the international community’s readiness to challenge Saudi Arabia. He said some governments prefer to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in countries where they entertain profitable business relations.

“Unfortunately, extrajudicial executions have entered the tool kit of acceptable practices not only by oppressive governments but also by the international community when it comes to doing business with powerful states,” he said.

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