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    By MATTHEW LEE, AP Diplomatic Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that...
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America’s closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden’s administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for...
    By Fares Akram and Joseph Krauss | Associated Press GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel allowed the Palestinian Authority to deliver the first coronavirus vaccines to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday despite objections from Israeli lawmakers who suggested they be used as a bargaining chip for the release of captives held by the territory’s militant Hamas rulers. Israel has faced international criticism for largely excluding Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza from its highly successful vaccination campaign. It held up the shipment for two days as the government faced questioning from a parliamentary committee before ultimately approving it. The dispute highlights the Palestinians’ reliance on Israel even as they struggle to combat the pandemic on their own. It’s also a potent example of global inequality in the rollout of vaccines, most of which have been scooped up by wealthy countries. The shipment finally arrived midday Wednesday at the...
    Khirbet Humsa, West Bank (CNN)Small groups of women and children huddled in tents as storm clouds brewed in the west and delegations of diplomats, clerics, top politicians and media swooped down upon their misery. The commiserations flowed fast. The outrage of outsiders swelled with indignation.And in the end a top European diplomat admitted that foreign money spent on the West Bank and in Gaza was essentially a way of buying peace amid dwindling hope and a "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians in a deep coma. Opinion: Whos afraid of Joe Biden? Not Benjamin NetanyahuThe extended families of about 100 people, semi-nomadic Bedouin shepherds laying ancient claim to the grazing and fecund fields around them, say they watched as the Israeli army destroyed their tents and animal pens three times in the last month.A couple of sofas sat around the embers of a fire inside the rectangular outline of...
    JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian Authority administered its first known coronavirus vaccinations on Tuesday after receiving thousands of doses from Israel, which launched its own vaccination campaign in December and has already inoculated more than a third of its population. A Palestinian official confirmed that a first dose was given to a small number of medical workers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the PA does not consider this the official start of its vaccination campaign. Israel began transferring 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to the Palestinians this week, and the first doses will go to front-line medical workers. The Palestinians hope to acquire tens of thousands more doses in the coming weeks through a World Health Organization program. Even if those deliveries materialize, however, it could take several months to administer enough vaccines to bring the outbreak under control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the...
    Israel has been accused of racism by the Palestinian prime minister after excluding four million people living in the West Bank and Gaza from its Covid-19 vaccine drive.  During a press conference at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to vaccinate every citizen by the end of March.    Israel's Arab residents and the Palestinians of east Jerusalem will be included in the country's vaccination drive. Palestinians living in the West Bank, and those living in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, will not be given a dose. Officials will however travel into the West Bank to make the vaccine available for Jewish settlers.  Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who recently accused Israel of 'racism' for its refusal to vaccinate the citizens of the West Bank and Gaza, has not publicly requested vaccines.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured being given the vaccine on 9...
    By Suheir Sheikh and Rami Ayyub JERUSALEM (Reuters) - For Nabil al-Kurd, being forced out of the East Jerusalem home he has lived in since the 1950s would be a fate worse than death. But the 76-year-old and his wife and children are among dozens of Palestinians under threat of eviction from two districts of the disputed city, after an Israeli court ruled their properties are built on land belonging to Jewish settlers. "This is my motherland. All my memories are in this house," Kurd told Reuters. "I won't leave unless it is to the cemetery." The ownership claims against him and others in Sheikh Jarrah and a second neighbourhood, Batan al-Hawa, are a focal point of settler development plans in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a war in 1967. Kurd was ordered evicted in October, within 30 days. He has appealed to the Jerusalem District court, though Hagit...
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The low-cost carrier FlyDubai began regular flights to Tel Aviv on Thursday, the latest sign of the normalization deal taking hold between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. FlyDubai flight No. FZ1163 landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport at 11:38 a.m. after a 3 hour, 20 minute flight. It received a water salute by the ground crew. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then met FlyDubai’s CEO Gaith al-Gaith, who was aboard the flight. The return flight FZ1164, taking just over 2½ hours, arrived at Dubai International Airport at 6:37 p.m. Israeli tourists waved their Israeli passports to journalists watching them arrive at baggage claim. Israeli carrier El Al is scheduled to begin flights in December to Dubai, the skyscraper-studded tourist hub of the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms including Abu Dhabi. The UAE and Israel formalized their efforts to normalize relations in September at...
    Palestinian Authority parliament member Saeb Erekat talks with the press before a meeting at the Palestinian parliament, in a September 6, 2003 file photo taken in Ramallah, West Bank. Paula Bronstein/Getty Jerusalem — Saeb Erekat, a veteran peace negotiator and prominent international spokesman for the Palestinians for more than three decades, died Tuesday, weeks after being infected by the coronavirus. He was 65. The American-educated Erekat was involved in nearly every round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians going back to the landmark Madrid conference in 1991, when he famously showed up draped in a black-and-white keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. It was a gesture that made him a hero to many at home, but caused a stir among foreign dignitaries.   Secretary of State John Kerry stands with Israel's Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, left, and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, after the resumption of...
    Jerusalem (CNN)The United Nations and the European Union have criticized the demolition by the Israeli military of a large portion of a Palestinian community in the West Bank that left 73 people, including 41 children, homeless. The UN described the demolition in the community of Khirbet Humsa as "the largest forced displacement incident in over four years."Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which administers the occupied West Bank, said seven tents and eight pens were destroyed because they were built illegally in a firing zone in the Jordan Valley. The UN said 73 people were displaced by the demolition in Khirbet Humsa on Tuesday.A man sits at the site of the demolition in Khirbet Humsa on November 4."We will note that the enforcement was carried out in accordance with the authorities and procedures, and subject to operational considerations," COGAT said in a statement.Harbi Abu Al-Kabsh, a...
    TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israelis lit thousands of candles on Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was shot dead by a Jewish extremist as he pursued peace with the Palestinians. The Yitzhak Rabin Center planned to light 25,000 candles in the central Tel Aviv square where he was assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995, after addressing a peace rally, and which is now named for him. Israel holds memorial ceremonies to mark the anniversary according to the Jewish calendar. Rabin was born in Jerusalem in 1922 and commanded troops in the 1948 war that surrounded Israel’s creation. He rose through the ranks of the military, serving as chief of staff during Israel’s victory over neighboring Arab states in the 1967 war. As prime minister he signed the 1993 Oslo accords with the Palestinians, sharing a Nobel Prize the following year...
    ROME (Reuters) - European countries have a fundamental role in supporting the Middle East peace process after the signing of the so-called Abraham Accord, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Friday. "I believe that European leaders have a strategic role...(also in) stemming and rejecting the Islamic Republic of Iran, which still is the greatest force of destabilisation in the entire Middle Eastern region," Pompeo told Italian daily La Repubblica. He added that he hoped Palestinians would join the United States, committing to serious negotiations with Israel. "(The Palestinians) must commit to dialogue," Pompeo said, when asked what was needed to do so, given that the Palestinian Authority considered the agreements void. (Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Clarence Fernandez) Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.
    ROME, Oct 2 (Reuters) – European countries have a fundamental role in supporting the Middle East peace process after the signing of the so-called Abraham Accord, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Friday. “I believe that European leaders have a strategic role…(also in) stemming and rejecting the Islamic Republic of Iran, which still is the greatest force of destabilisation in the entire Middle Eastern region,” Pompeo told Italian daily La Repubblica. He added that he hoped Palestinians would join the United States, committing to serious negotiations with Israel. “(The Palestinians) must commit to dialogue,” Pompeo said, when asked what was needed to do so, given that the Palestinian Authority considered the agreements void. (Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
    By Zainah El-Haroun, Stephen Farrell and Rami Ayyub JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Al-Aqsa Mosque is as quiet today as it was turbulent 20 years ago when it gave its name to the Palestinian uprising that began beneath its walls and carved a bloody new chapter in the Middle East. The Al-Aqsa Intifada – also known as The Second Intifada - began with rocks and tear gas before mushrooming into an armed conflict in which more than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis were killed. When it petered out five years later, suicide bomb attacks on Israeli cities, and Israeli air strikes and tank raids on Palestinian towns, had polarised opinion on both sides. The last peace talks flopped in 2014, and stalemate has simmered since. Gazing over the walled Old City from the Mount of Olives, Palestinian Jerusalemite Ziad Abu Zayyad sees many parallels between the situation two decades ago and now....
    National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien urged Palestinian leadership to consider a peace agreement with Israel after militants in the Gaza Strip fired off rockets Tuesday to protest the signing of normalization agreements between Israel and two Arab countries at the White House. "With respect to the Palestinians, the president has come forward with the most comprehensive plan for peace between Israel and Palestine ever," O'Brien told "Special Report." TRUMP PRESIDES OVER SIGNING OF HISTORIC MIDDLE EAST DEALS "That vision for Middle East peace that senior adviser Kushner and Secretary Pompeo and myself and others have been working on throughout the region, gives the Palestinians an opportunity to double their GDP.  It calls for a two-state solution to the Palestinian impasse, it provides territorial integrity for the Palestinians," he continued. "It's a terrific first offer for the Palestinians to come to the table, so we really hope they take advantage of this." VideoThe Palestinians are opposed to the agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which agreed to...
    Earlier this week, an Israeli plane imprinted with the word “peace” on the outside of its cockpit flew from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, symbolically sealing a landmark diplomatic deal between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates. The El Al flight - carrying U.S. and Israeli leaders, including President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner – was the first direct commercial passenger flight ever between the two countries. The Aug. 13 deal is said to already be propelling other countries to follow the Emirates in formally shaking hands with the nation many still don't even recognize on a map, breaking the decades-long mandate in which many Muslim-majority and Arab countries refused to form ties until there is an enduring peace agreement with the Palestinians. But what country is most likely to come next? NETANYAHU: 'MANY MORE' SECRET TALKS WITH ARAB NATIONS AFTER US-BROKERED UAE AGREEMENT Bahrain's cabinet exalted the deal, and U.S....
    JERUSALEM (AP) — Top White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday that the Palestinian leadership’s credibility has fallen to an “all time low” and that the Trump administration wouldn’t “chase” the Palestinians over a peace deal if they continue to reject American overtures. Kushner delivered his assessment in a conference call discussing last week’s U.S.-brokered agreement forming official diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Speaking to reporters from the Middle East, Kushner said there was rising frustration in the region over what he said was the Palestinians’ obstruction of their people’s advancement. “We’re not going to chase the Palestinian leadership,” Kushner said. “Their credibility is just really falling to an all time low and even people who want to help the Palestinians, those people are just saying that you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves.” The internationally recognized Palestinian Authority severed ties with the...
    By TIA GOLDENBERG, Associated Press JERUSALEM (AP) — Top White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday that the Palestinian leadership's credibility has fallen to an “all time low” and that the Trump administration wouldn't “chase” the Palestinians over a peace deal if they continue to reject American overtures. Kushner delivered his assessment in a conference call discussing last week's U.S.-brokered agreement forming official diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Speaking to reporters from the Middle East, Kushner said there was rising frustration in the region over what he said was the Palestinians' obstruction of their people's advancement. “We’re not going to chase the Palestinian leadership,” Kushner said. “Their credibility is just really falling to an all time low and even people who want to help the Palestinians, those people are just saying that you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves.” The internationally recognized Palestinian...
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas spokesman accuses the UAE of ‘stabbing’ Palestinians in the back after deal with Trump and ties with Israel. Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel on Tuesday closed one of its main border crossings with the Gaza Strip after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons that set fire to areas on the Israeli frontier. Israeli media reported that more than 30 fires were set around border communities by balloons carrying incendiary devices launched from Gaza. "Kerem Shalom Crossing will be closed for the passage of all goods, with the exception of the entry of essential humanitarian equipment and fuel," Israel's Defence Ministry said in a statement. Kerem Shalom is one of three main Gaza border crossings with Israel and Egypt, but it is where most goods pass through daily. Palestinian officials said the closure in particular affected construction materials. Gaza is run by Hamas, an Islamist group that Israel and the West designate a terrorist organization. Citing security concerns, Israel maintains tight control over its land and sea borders. Egypt also restricts movement...
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