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Palestinian leader says Trump’s Jerusalem ‘crime’ prevents US peace role

ISTANBUL: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Muslim leaders on Wednesday that a U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a crime which showed that Washington should no longer play a role in Middle East peace talks. Addressing an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey, Abbas said President Donald Trump was giving Jerusalem away as if it were an American city. "Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a…

Palestinian president to shun Pence over Jerusalem move

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will refuse to meet US Vice President Mike Pence later this month following Washington's controversial policy shift on Jerusalem, an Abbas aide said on Saturday, as protests gripped the Palestinian territories for a third straight day. Retaliatory Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed two Hamas militants before dawn, as unrest simmered over President Donald Trump's controversial declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. A total of four people have now been killed…

Israel builds settlements ‘at high rate’: UN

UNITED NATIONS: Israel continues to build settlements "at a high rate," the UN envoy for the Middle East said Monday, in defiance of Security Council demands for an end to the expansion of Jewish outposts.  Reporting to the council, envoy Nickolay Mladenov accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of using provocative rhetoric to shore up the drive for new settlements. From June to September, new construction was mostly in east Jerusalem, with plans for some 2,300 new housing units -- a 30 percent increase…

Trump drops US commitment to ‘two-state’ Mideast deal

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump halted Washington's quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday, saying he would back a single state if it led to peace. The new president warmly welcomed Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House and hailed the "unbreakable" bond between their countries. And while he urged Netanyahu to "hold back" from building Jewish settlements for a "little bit" -- Trump broke with the international consensus insisting on two states. "So…

Palestinians condemn US veto of ex-PM as UN Libya envoy

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians condemned as "blatant discrimination" Washington's decision to block the appointment of their former prime minister Salam Fayyad as UN peace envoy to Libya. UN chief Antonio Guterres nominated Fayyad to the post on Thursday and the Security Council had been expected to approve his appointment without objections. But late on Friday, US ambassador Nikki Haley announced she was blocking the appointment because "for too long, the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority…

US envoy warns against cutting funding to UN

UNITED NATIONS: US Ambassador Samantha Power on Friday warned that cutting US funding to the United Nations would be "extremely detrimental" to American interests, one week before Donald Trump's administration takes office. Addressing her final news conference, Power told reporters that "countries like Russia and China" would benefit from Washington's reduced standing at the United Nations if funding were withdrawn. "We lead the world, in part, by leading at the UN," said Power, who is stepping down next week after four…

Palestinians seek Putin help to block US embassy move

MOSCOW: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help stop the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, a top Palestinian official said on Friday. Saeb Erekat said he had passed on the message from Abbas to Putin during a visit to Moscow during which he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "The letter asks President Putin to do what he can about the information we have that President-elect Donald Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, which for us is a red line…