Tag Archives: State John Kerry

Erakat, a veteran voice of the Palestinians

Long-time Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat was announced on Friday as the man to open dialogue with his Israeli counterpart at meetings in Washington after three years of stalled peace negotiations.

Both Erakat and Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry for initial talks, the top US diplomat said at the end of four days of intense diplomacy as he consulted Palestinian and Israeli leaders from his base in Amman.

The 55-year-old Erakat, an academic whose perfect command of English is often spiced with humour, was part of every team to negotiate with Israel since 1991, with the notable exception of those who secretly hammered out the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Erakat rose to prominence as a media personality at the 1991 international peace conference in Madrid at which he wore the black-and-white chequered Palestinian headscarf.

Born in Jerusalem, he has been a key figure in the Palestinian political landscape, an indispensable briefer for foreign envoys and a suave tactician who can register indignation when necessary.

A member of the Palestinian parliament since 1996, Erakat was close to Yasser Arafat, historic leader of the Palestinian national movement, even though he did not follow Arafat into exile in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia before his return to Gaza in 1994.

In 2009, Erakat was elected to the central committee of the Fatah wing of Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and to the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

He was an architect of the negotiations on a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from the failed Camp David summit in July 2000 to the talks launched in Washington in September 2010 which were interrupted after less than a month in a row over Israel’s continued settlement building.

Appointed in 2003 to head the PLO negotiating team, Erakat briefly resigned from the post in 2011 because of “responsibility for the theft of documents from his office,” papers which he said had been “adulterated”.

He was referring to more than 1,600 documents on the talks with Israel between 1999 and 2010, released in January 2011 by Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera and dubbed “The Palestine Papers”.

Palestinian officials worked to limit the damage caused by their publication, which showed Palestinian negotiators prepared to offer significant concessions without securing Israeli guarantees on key issues such as east Jerusalem and the fate of refugees.

Although the documents did not cause major turmoil in Palestinian public opinion, Erakat’s position was weakened at the time by announcements the alleged perpetrators of the leaks worked for the PLO negotiation team he headed.

He had said an investigation into the leaks pointed towards three nationals of US, British and French extraction being responsible.

A former journalist with the independent daily Al-Quds in east Jerusalem, Erakat holds a BA and an MA in Political Science from the University of San Francisco.

He also has a doctorate in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford in England, and he taught at An-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus from 1979 to 1991.

Erakat has written a dozen books and lives in the …read more

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Agreement on basis to resume Mideast peace talks: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that an agreement has been reached between the Israelis and Palestinians for the basis to resume Middle East peace talks.

“I’m pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Kerry told reporters in Amman, Jordan.

“This is a significant and welcome step forward. The agreement is still in the process of being finalised so we are absolutely not going to talk about any of the elements now.”

The top US diplomat also said that Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni would meet him in Washington “to begin initial talks within the next week or so”.

The announcement came at the end of four days of intense diplomacy by the secretary of state as he consulted Israeli and Palestinian leaders from his base in the Jordanian capital.

Talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have been frozen for three years, after Israel refused to agree to a new suspension of settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

In his brief comments to the press, Kerry praised the courage of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“No one believes the long-standing differences between the parties will be resolved overnight or just wiped away. We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead,” he said.

“Today, however, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of the courageous leadership by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here and both of them were instrumental.”

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Kerry flying to West Bank to pursue peace talks

A U.S. official says Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to the West Bank to press his effort for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The extra stop indicates a possibility of success in Kerry’s sixth trip to the region this year, despite deep differences between the two sides.

The official said Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The secretary had a two-hour session with the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman on Friday morning.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

After Palestinian leaders demanded further guarantees before restarting talks with Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed his ideas with the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman on Friday.

A stormy, high-level meeting of senior Palestinian leaders called to discuss Kerry’s latest peace proposal ended with a decision early Friday to demand that Israel agree on the general border of a future Palestinian state, officials said.

The demand casts a cloud of uncertainty over months of U.S. mediation efforts because Israel rejects preconditions.

Hoping to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks, President Barack Obama asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work with Kerry “to resume negotiations with Palestinians as soon as possible,” according to a statement released by the White House late Thursday.

No details were immediately available about Kerry’s meeting with Erekat. The talks lasted more than two hours with a short break in the middle, possibly for consultations.

The Palestinians demand that the starting point for border talks must be the cease-fire line that held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Palestinians claim those territories for their future state, with modifications reached through agreed land swaps that could allow major Jewish settlement blocs built in the West Bank becoming part of Israel proper, in exchange for territories in Israel.

Previous Israeli governments twice negotiated on the basis of the 1967 lines, but no peace accord was …read more

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Kerry meets Palestinian negotiator about talks

After Palestinian leaders demanded further guarantees before restarting talks with Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed his ideas with the chief Palestinian negotiator in Amman on Friday.

A stormy, high-level meeting of senior Palestinian leaders called to discuss U.S Kerry’s latest peace proposal ended with a decision early Friday to demand that Israel agree on the general border of a future Palestinian state, officials said.

The demand casts a cloud of uncertainty over months of U.S. mediation efforts because Israel rejects preconditions.

Hoping to push Israelis and Palestinians toward talks, President Barack Obama asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work with Kerry “to resume negotiations with Palestinians as soon as possible,” according to a statement released by the White House late Thursday.

The Palestinians demand is that the starting point for border talks must be the cease-fire line that held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank. Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Palestinians claim those territories for their future state, with modifications reached through agreed land swaps that could allow major Jewish settlement blocs built in the West Bank becoming part of Israel proper, in exchange for territories in Israel.

Previous Israeli governments twice negotiated on the basis of the 1967 lines, but no peace accord was reached.

Palestinian official Wasel Abu Yussef said Erekat would ask for more clarifications from Kerry on what Israel expects from negotiations.

Abu Yussef said Palestinians did not want to reject Kerry’s efforts to restart negotiations outright.

The Palestinians did not bring up their often-repeated demand that Israel stop building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem before talks could resume. One official said that if Israel accepts the 1967 lines as a basis, that would make most of the settlements illegitimate.

While Kerry has not publicized details of his plan, the Arab League’s decision Wednesday to endorse his proposal raised speculation that the Palestinians would agree. Abbas traditionally has sought the blessing of his Arab brethren before making any major diplomatic initiative.

U.S. officials played down hopes that negotiations would begin soon.

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Syrian refugee camp becoming 'home from home'

From the air, lines of trailers and tents stretch across the Jordanian desert. Welcome to Camp Zaatari, home to thousands of Syrian refugees and fast turning into a small city.

The camp was opened just a year ago as Jordan faced the nightmarish task of caring for and sheltering an exodus of people from Syria, traumatised by long months of war, and fleeing for their lives.

Now it houses around 115,000 dispossessed, who are resiliently determined to get back on their feet, even as the sound of artillery fire from just across the border echoes around the camp at night.

Tents are mostly being replaced by container homes made of plastic and aluminium. Each costs about $2,500 and the camp holds 16,500 of them, with hopes that soon there will be 30,000.

“Home sweet home,” camp manager Kilian Kleinschmidt of the UN refugee agency told US Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit on Thursday with no hint of irony.

He highlighted the stark fact that, with no end to the 28-month-old conflict in sight, camp residents are increasingly resigning themselves to a protracted stay and are trying to pick up the pieces of their disrupted lives.

Many come from the border province of Daraa, cradle of the March 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule that escalated into armed rebellion,

“People of Daraa are traders. They have it in their blood,” said Kleinschmidt, an aid worker who is a veteran of world hotspots from Bosnia to Rwanda to Somalia.

“It’s incredible what they will trade, they’ll trade anything,” he told journalists.

Front courtyards are being cemented to keep out the mud, some families are even putting up little fountains outside their doors — “a symbol of home,” said Kleinschmidt.

The ever resourceful refugees are even tapping into the camp’s electricity network, leaving Kleinschmidt with a monthly bill approaching $500,000.

Most of the stolen power goes to run some 3,000 shops and 580 restaurants and food stalls which now dot the few asphalted roads — earning them the nickname the “Champs Elysee”, after Paris’s most famous street.

Here refugees can sip tea, buy shoes, or haggle for an air conditioning unit for their home, many of which now bristle with satellite dishes. And 10 taxis charge high prices to ferry people around.

Some of the money is carried out with the refugees. More comes from remittances from relatives working in Gulf or the West.

Others, including the children, scavenge for work. Smuggling is a problem, and every possession is for sale. Even the container homes are rented out or sold or used in schemes not sanctioned by the UN refugee agency.

There are three hospitals, a couple of schools, a main food distribution point and others just for bread, handing out some 5,000 loaves a day. There are also five football pitches and playgrounds with slides and swings.

“It’s important to keep some 60,000 children busy,” said Kleinschmidt, lamenting however that out of 30,000 of school age, just 5,000 have resumed their lessons.

Twelve to 15 babies are born into this no-man’s land every day, and …read more

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Kerry’s plan: Peace talks to resume based on 1967 lines, recognition of Israel as Jewish state – Diplomacy & Defense – Israel News | Haaretz

By Dave Robbins

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to announce Friday the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz. Read More: Kerry’s plan: Peace talks to resume based on 1967 lines, recognition of Israel as Jewish state – Diplomacy & Defense – Israel News | Haaretz.

The post Kerry’s plan: Peace talks to resume based on 1967 lines, recognition of Israel as Jewish state – Diplomacy & Defense – Israel News | Haaretz appeared first on Endtime Ministries | End Of The Age | Irvin Baxter.

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Source: Endtime Ministries

Palestinian leaders discussing Kerry proposal

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is discussing U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest efforts to relaunch peace talks with Israel.

Kerry has not publicized his plan to restart the talks, but a decision by the Arab League to support his proposals has raised speculation that the Palestinians will agree.

An announcement was expected later Thursday.

Kerry has been shuttling for months in search of a formula to allow resumption of talks after a nearly five-year break. Kerry, who is in neighboring Jordan, had a lengthy meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week.

Abbas was briefing top officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization Thursday on the latest proposals, the PLO said.

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Palestinian leaders discuss Kerry's proposal to relaunch peace talks with Israel

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is discussing U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest efforts to relaunch peace talks with Israel.

Kerry has not publicized his plan to restart the talks, but a decision by the Arab League to support his proposals has raised speculation that the Palestinians will agree.

An announcement was expected later Thursday.

Kerry has been shuttling for months in search of a formula to allow resumption of talks after a nearly five-year break. Kerry, who is in neighboring Jordan, had a lengthy meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week.

Abbas was briefing top officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization Thursday on the latest proposals, the PLO said.

…read more

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Israel 'readying peace gestures' to Palestinians

The Israeli military is preparing to lift some restrictions on Palestinian movement in advance of possible renewed peace talks, army radio said on Thursday.

“It appears that in the next few days the future of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be determined,” its reporter for the Palestinian territories reported.

“In the light of security assessments, two roads in the territories are expected shortly to be opened to Palestinian traffic; one north of Ramallah and one close to Beit Haggai,” he added, referring to a settlement near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The radio quoted the military spokesman’s office as saying that the plans were a gesture for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and not linked to peace efforts.

The office did not immediately reply to an AFP request for comment.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was to meet senior members of his Palestine Liberation Organisation in the West Bank city of Ramallah later on Thursday to brief them on his meetings in Jordan with US Secretary of State John Kerry, a Palestinian official said.

Kerry said Wednesday that his intense diplomacy in six visits to the Middle East was bearing fruit, narrowing gaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have said that they will not renew peace talks, stalled for almost three years, until Israel agrees to accept as a baseline the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, when it occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

They say Israel needs to freeze all settlement construction in the occupied lands, including in east Jerusalem, which it annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Israel rejects such “preconditions”.

Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom told the radio that easing some restrictions on Palestinians’ daily lives did not constitute bowing to preconditions.

“I think that in the framework of opening negotiations, if we carry out what is known as confidence-building measures which do not endanger security, such things have always been possible as part of a larger context,” he said.

“If it is the judgement of security officials that such a thing does not damage security, then of course we have the possibility to do that.”

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Israel president urges EU to reconsider funds ban

Israel’s president has called on the European Union to reconsider its new ban on funding Israeli institutions operating in territories Palestinians claim for their future state.

Shimon Peres’ statement on Thursday came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the region, trying to restart Israel-Palestinians talks.

Peres said Kerry is making progress and that talks could resume soon.

Peres urged the EU to “give priority to peace” and warned the ban “could cause another crisis.”

The EU decision is to go into effect in 2014. It marks a new international show of displeasure with Israeli settlements built on lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

The Palestinians claim some of those territories — the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — for their hoped-for state.

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Judge in NY clears way for ex-Marine's extradition

A former U.S. Marine charged with killing a couple in the Philippines can face charges there after a federal magistrate in New York ruled Wednesday there was sufficient evidence to extradite him.

Timothy Kaufman, 35, will remain behind bars until U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a decision on surrendering him to Philippine authorities, under the order from Magistrate Randolph Treece.

Kaufman, formerly of Knoxville, Tenn., is one of three men charged by authorities in the Philippines with the 2011 killing of a retired Northern Ireland police officer and his girlfriend. David Balmer, 54, and 26-year-old Elma de Guia were found dead on Sept. 2, 2011, in a bedroom of a home owned by a local club owner who was friends with Balmer.

Kaufman was arrested in April near his grandfather’s upstate New York home. He professed his innocence at a court hearing last month and his lawyer Mark Sacco argued that Philippine authorities failed to establish probable cause.

Treece rejected that argument in the ruling, saying the evidence was “sufficient to sustain the charges” against Kaufman under provisions of the extradition treaty between the United States and the Philippines.

There was no immediate comment from Sacco.

Kaufman left the Philippines a month after the killings. He was arrested in April at a Saratoga Springs-area business, near where he had been staying with his grandfather. Kaufman testified at his hearing that he had had been living in the open before his arrest, working part-time as a bartender and holding a driver’s license.

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Judge clears way for ex-Marine's extradition

A federal judge says there is enough evidence against a former U.S. Marine charged with killing a couple in the Philippines to have him extradited.

Magistrate Randolph Treece ruled Wednesday that the evidence against Timothy Kaufman was sufficient to sustain the charges against him. Treece ordered Kaufman detained until U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a decision on surrendering him to Philippine authorities.

Kaufman is one of three men charged with the 2011 killing of a retired Northern Ireland police officer and his girlfriend. Kaufman has testified that he was not involved in the killing of 54-year-old David Balmer and 26-year-old Elma de Guia in the home of a local club owner.

The 35-year-old Kaufman has been in jail since he was arrested in April in the Albany area.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News

Obama uses EU to confront Israel with tough interlinked choices: borders or nuclear-armed Iran

By Dave Robbins

It doesn’t take a political genius to see how US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival in Amman Tuesday, July 16, for his sixth bid to bring Israelis and the Palestinians to the table, ties in with the new EU anti-Israel funding guidelines published on the same day. Read More: Obama uses EU to confront […]

The post Obama uses EU to confront Israel with tough interlinked choices: borders or nuclear-armed Iran appeared first on Endtime Ministries | End Of The Age | Irvin Baxter.

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Source: Endtime Ministries

Ministers Warn: Rein in EU or We’ll Trip Up Kerry – Middle East – News – Israel National News

By Dave Robbins

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin have warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanayhu that if he fails to bring about the cancellation of the new European Union sanctions on Israel, they may opt to sabotage U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts at jumpstarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Read […]

The post Ministers Warn: Rein in EU or We’ll Trip Up Kerry – Middle East – News – Israel National News appeared first on Endtime Ministries | End Of The Age | Irvin Baxter.

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Source: Endtime Ministries

Israel set to approve another 1,000 W.Bank homes: NGO

Israeli authorities are expected on Wednesday to give the green light for the construction of 1,071 new homes in six West Bank settlements, watchdog Peace Now said in a statement on Tuesday.

The news came as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jordan at the start of a sixth round of intense diplomacy to revive stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with Israel’s settlement building a key sticky point.

It also came as the European Union was due to publish on Friday guidelines barring member states from funding projects in Jewish settlements.

Peace Now said that a government committee was expected to grant initial approval for plans to build 339 homes at Galgal and Almog settlements in the Jordan valley, Kfar Adumim northeast of Jerusalem and at Kochav Yaacov and Shilo near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Another 732 units were to be given a more advanced level of approval, one stage before the start of construction, at the West Bank’s biggest settlement, Modiin Ilit, a community of 58,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews west of Ramallah, it said.

“These approvals are part of an unprecedented wave of advancing settlement plans,” Peace Now said. “This is yet another message by Israel to the US and the Palestinians that this government is not ready for peace.”

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Israeli officials slam new EU settlements directive

Israeli officials on Tuesday slammed an EU directive that will bar all 28 member states from dealings with Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

A high-ranking official, who requested anonymity, described the European Union’s move as a disproportionate “attack” on Israel.

“When it comes to disputed territories, the Europeans prefer to attack a small country like Israel instead of taking on more powerful states, because they’re afraid of retaliation,” he said.

Israel was “only informed of the directive at the last moment,” he added.

The directive, due to be published on Friday and take effect from 2014, forbids EU member states from funding or dealing with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, according to Israeli media.

It requires a clear distinction to be made in all signed agreements between Israel and the territories it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war — the Golan Heights as well as the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.

EU spokesman David Kriss told AFP: “These are guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activity in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards.

“It makes a distinction between Israel and the entities in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights,” he said.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told army radio the Europeans had made a “mistake” and that the directive would undermine any return to peace talks with the Palestinians.

“It’s a very worrying initiative launched at a bad time, because it only reinforces the Palestinians’ refusal to restart negotiations,” he said.

Palestinian leaders say they will only resume direct negotiations with Israel if they are held on the basis of the lines that existed before 1967, and if Israel freezes all settlement activity in the territories.

Israel insists they be held “without preconditions.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in neighbouring Jordan later on Tuesday on his sixth visit to the region in as many months in a bid to bridge the differences between the two sides.

Kriss said the EU wanted Israel to cooperate fully with the directive to ensure its “participation in projects between 2014 and 2020.”

But Elkin told the Haaretz newspaper: “We are not ready to sign on this clause in our agreements with the European Union,” a refusal that could “halt all cooperation in economics… (and) cause severe damage to Israel.”

A leader of the Yesha Council — an umbrella group of municipal councils in Jewish settlements in the West Bank — strongly criticised the EU.

“The one-sided and discriminatory EU directive means Europe has effectively decided to abandon any involvement it had in the Middle East peace process,” Dani Dayan said in a statement.

“By aligning itself with the most extreme Palestinian demands… the EU can no longer be perceived as a neutral or objective,” he added.

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Israel condemns EU directive on settlements

A senior Israeli official is condemning the European Union’s new directive banning EU dealings with settlements as “worrying” and counterproductive to peace talks.

From 2014, Israeli authorities must guarantee that all EU funding and cooperation projects are conducted within Israel’s pre-1967 border and not in east Jerusalem, the West Bank or Golan Heights.

Israel’s deputy foreign minister Zeev Elkin called the decision a “very significant and worrying move,” telling Israel radio on Tuesday that it doesn’t help attempts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

Kerry returns to the region this week for consultations, but is not scheduled to visit Israel or the Palestinian territories.

Israel says the status of lands it captured in the 1967 Mideast war should be resolved through talks.

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