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President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been condemned by world’s leaders.

Saudi Arabia called it “unjustified and irresponsible”, while France and the UK said they did not support the decision.

However, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “a historic day”.

Donald Trump’s move reversed decades of US policy. The fate of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced President Trump’s move as “deplorable”.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are expected to hold a day of strikes and protests on December 7.

The UN Security Council is to discuss the issue on December 8 after eight of the 15 member nations called for an emergency session. The Arab League is to meet on December 9.

President Trump said on December 6 he had “judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians”.

He said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfils a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.

Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Jordan Warns US over Jerusalem’s Recognition as Israel’s Capital

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, the president added.

“It is also the right thing to do.”

Donald Trump said the US still supported a two-state solution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if approved by both sides, which would essentially see the creation of an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Following the announcement, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful, tweeting: “Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia.”

On December 6, Benjamin Netanyahu went further, saying President Trump “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”, and predicting that many other countries would follow Washington’s example.

The Republican Jewish Coalition thanked President Trump in a New York Times add.

The mood was very different on the Palestinian side, with a day of strikes and protests planned.

The leader of Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, called for a new intifada, or uprising, saying it was the only way to “confront” Israel and the US.

President Mahmoud Abbas called President Trump’s announcement “deplorable” and said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine”.

Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s party, said it would push for a UN resolution requesting that Washington “rescind its decision” and disqualifying the US as a co-sponsor of the peace process.

The Arab and the wider Muslim world – including a number of US allies – condemned Donald Trump’s announcement.

Demonstrations have already taken place outside the US consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Saudi royal court said: “The US move represents a significant decline in efforts to push a peace process and is a violation of the historically neutral American position on Jerusalem.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called on Muslims everywhere to “make it clear that we strongly oppose” the US move.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “a moment of great anxiety”. He said “there is no alternative to the two-state solution”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both said their countries did not support the move while EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini voiced “serious concern”.

Donald Trump’s announcement puts the US at odds with the rest of the international community’s view on Jerusalem’s status.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but before now it has not been internationally recognized as part of Israel.

The Arab world is reacting to an expected announcement by President Donald Trump that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to recent reports, President Trump will make the statement this week but will further delay acting on a campaign pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The head of the Arab League, Jordan and the Palestinian president have warned of the consequences of a declaration.

Jerusalem’s fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Arabs.

A deadline for President Trump to sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem expires on December 4.

Every president, including Donald Trump, has signed the waiver every six months since US Congress passed an act in 1995 calling for the embassy to be moved.

Donald Trump repeatedly pledged during his election campaign to move the embassy, and while he has said it was still his intention, he has not yet done so.

There are signs however the president will make a statement on December 6 announcing Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while holding off moving the embassy.

Image source Wikimedia

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel-Jordan Deal on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Holy Site

Israel Sets up Checkpoints in East Jerusalem’s Arab Areas

The status of the city goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the area in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords its final status is meant to discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries, including Israel’s closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial capital.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

If the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it will put it out-of-step with the rest of the international community and reinforce Israel’s position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.

The move would also raise a question over how the US will treat resolutions dealing with East Jerusalem at the UN. The US has a power of veto and could use this to block future motions critical of Israeli policy in the east.

There is growing anger towards Washington among its allies in the Middle East.

Jordan, the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, has warned of “grave consequences” if President Trump goes ahead, and has called for an emergency meeting of key regional and Islamic blocs the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to discuss the issue.

Arab League chief Abul Gheit warned such a move would “nourish fanaticism and violence”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has contacted world leaders urging them to intervene, saying “such a US decision would destroy the peace process and drag the region into further instability”.

The US has brokered decades of on-off peace talks, and the Trump administration is formulating fresh peace proposals – but recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would compromise Washington’s neutrality in the eyes of the Palestinians.

It remains unclear though whether President Trump will recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The White House has neither confirmed nor denied the president’s intention, and in a rare public speech on December 3 his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner refused to be drawn on the issue.

According to a poll of gender experts, Egypt is now the worst country for women’s rights in the Arab world.

The study found s**ual harassment, high rates of female genital mutilation and a growth in conservative Islamist groups contributed to the low ranking.

The Comoros islands came top in the survey, which was conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The poll surveyed more than 330 gender experts in 21 Arab League states as well as Syria.

It is the foundation’s third annual study focusing on women’s rights since the Arab Uprisings in 2011.

Iraq ranked second-worst after Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.

Egypt is now the worst country for women's rights in the Arab world, according to a poll of gender experts

Egypt is now the worst country for women’s rights in the Arab world, according to a poll of gender experts

The Comoros, where women hold 20% of ministerial positions, is followed at the top of the rankings by Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar.

The poll asked experts to assess factors such as violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family and women’s role in politics and the economy.

Discriminatory laws and a spike in trafficking contributed to Egypt’s place at the bottom of the ranking of 22 Arab states, the survey said.

“There are whole villages on the outskirts of Cairo and elsewhere where the bulk of economic activity is based on trafficking in women and forced marriages,” said Zahra Radwan of US-based rights group Global Fund for Women.

However, s**ual harassment was cited as the main factor.

A UN report in April said 99.3% of women and girls in Egypt had been subjected to s**ual harassment.

“The social acceptability of everyday s**ual harassment affects every woman in Egypt regardless of age, professional or socio-economic background, marriage status, dress or behavior,” said Noora Flinkman of Egyptian campaign group HarassMap.

Meanwhile, the survey said Iraq was now more dangerous for women than under Saddam Hussein, with women disproportionately affected by the violence of the past decade.

Saudi Arabia ranked poorly on women’s involvement in politics, workplace discrimination, freedom of movement and property rights.

However, the conservative country scored better than many other Arab states when it came to access to education and healthcare, reproductive rights and gender violence.

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