Egypt: Sisi Labels Palestinian Displacement from Gaza as ‘Red Line’

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Egyptian presidency)
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Egyptian presidency)
TT

Egypt: Sisi Labels Palestinian Displacement from Gaza as ‘Red Line’

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Egyptian presidency)
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Egyptian presidency)

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reiterated his country’s rejection of the forced displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt labeling it as “a red line.”

"We strongly oppose the relocation of Palestinians to Egypt or Jordan," said Sisi, stressing that the deportation of Palestinians is a red line for Egypt, and it will not be permitted.

“I say to all Egyptians and people worldwide that the Rafah crossing has never been closed and will never be closed to aid entering the Gaza Strip," he said.

These remarks were made during a speech the Egyptian president delivered before thousands of Egyptians at an event in support of Palestine held at Cairo International Stadium.

Following Hamas’ Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on Israel on Oct. 7, Egypt has warned several times of pushing the Gazans to leave their land toward Sinai.

The Egyptian president added that the Palestinian cause faces a dangerous and sensitive phase amid an unpredictable and inhumane escalation. This escalation adopts collective punishment and commits massacres as a means to impose a reality on the ground, leading to the deportation of the people, and the seizure of land, he added.

"Nearly 12,000 tons of relief aid, transported by 1,300 trucks, were transferred to Gaza via Rafah crossing," said Sisi. The state contributed 8,400 tons, accounting for 70 percent of the total aid.

On Thursday, the National Alliance for Civil Development Work announced that a new aid convoy of more than 500 trucks was on its way to Palestine.

Sisi recounted Egypt’s efforts to prevent the escalation of this war on all levels.

He said that on the political level, Egypt held the first international summit in Cairo, in which several countries convened to secure international approval for ending this conflict and ensuring the flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Last month, the New Administrative Capital hosted the Cairo Peace Summit during which Sisi declared that eliminating the Palestinian cause without a just solution would never happen at the expense of Egypt.

Moreover, the Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh called for breaking the siege and ensuring the immediate flow of aid to the Strip.

The president further stressed the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and a just and comprehensive peace agreement, adding that through the joint efforts of Egypt, the US, and Qatar, Hamas and Israel reached a humanitarian truce for four days, which could be extended.



Israel Reserves ‘Right to Protect Itself’ after Iran Attack, Says Netanyahu

 17 April 2024, Israel, Jerusalem: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, arrives for a joint meeting with Annalena Baerbock (not pictured), Germany's Foreign Minister. (dpa)
17 April 2024, Israel, Jerusalem: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, arrives for a joint meeting with Annalena Baerbock (not pictured), Germany's Foreign Minister. (dpa)
TT

Israel Reserves ‘Right to Protect Itself’ after Iran Attack, Says Netanyahu

 17 April 2024, Israel, Jerusalem: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, arrives for a joint meeting with Annalena Baerbock (not pictured), Germany's Foreign Minister. (dpa)
17 April 2024, Israel, Jerusalem: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, arrives for a joint meeting with Annalena Baerbock (not pictured), Germany's Foreign Minister. (dpa)

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday his country will decide how to respond to Iran's unprecedented attack as world leaders called for restraint to avoid escalation.

The Israeli military has vowed to respond to Iran's missile and drone weekend attack, prompting a diplomatic flurry aiming to calm a region already on the edge due to the Israel-Hamas war raging in Gaza since October 7.

Washington and Brussels have pledged to ramp up sanctions against Iran, while British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock became the first Western envoys to visit Israel after the attack.

Netanyahu told the visiting ministers that Israel "will reserve the right to protect itself," his office said.

The pair offered "all kinds of suggestions and advice" during a meeting, Netanyahu said. "However, I would also like to clarify: we will make our decisions ourselves."

For his part, Cameron said that "we're very anxious to avoid escalation and to say to our friends in Israel: It's a time to think with head as well as heart."

Baerbock emphasized that "the region must not slide into a situation whose outcome is completely unpredictable."

Tehran has vowed to hit back if its arch foe Israel responds to the Saturday attack, which itself was launched in retaliation to a deadly strike on Iran's Damascus consulate building earlier this month.

Iran military parade

As Iran marked its annual Army Day, it showed off a range of its weapons Wednesday, including attack drones and longer-range ballistic missiles, in a military parade in Tehran.

President Ebrahim Raisi has warned after the attack that "the slightest act of aggression" by Israel would lead to "a fierce and severe response".

In the large-scale assault late Saturday, Iran and allied groups launched over 300 missiles and drones carrying a combined payload of 85 tons at Israel, according to the Israeli army.

Damage and casualties were limited as Israel's air defenses intercepted most of them with the help of US, British, French and Jordanian forces.

Israel's military chief Herzi Halevi has vowed "a response" to Iran's first ever direct attack, while military spokesman Daniel Hagari stressed that Iran would not get off "scot-free".

It remained unclear how and when Israel might strike, and whether it would target Iran directly or attack its interests or allies abroad in places such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group and Israeli forces have been exchanging near daily cross-border fire with Israel since the Gaza war began.

Hezbollah said it launched drones and missiles into Israel on Wednesday, which the army said wounded 14 soldiers, six of whom seriously.

US, EU to toughen sanctions

Israel's top ally the United States has made clear it won't join any attack on Iran, vowing instead to level more sanctions targeting Iran's missile and drone program, its Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian defense ministry.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Brussels was also working to expand sanctions against Iran, including its supply of drones and other weapons to Russia and to proxy groups around the Middle East.

Germany's Baerbock said that Berlin and Paris were in favor of a European sanctions regime against Iranian drones to be extended to include "missile technologies in Iran's arsenal".

Cameron also urged the G7 to adopt new "coordinated sanctions against Iran," ahead of a meeting with counterparts from the Western-led grouping in Italy.

Deadly strikes in Gaza

The sharply heightened Israel-Iran tensions have threatened to overshadow the Gaza war, even as deadly bombardment and combat raged on unabated in the besieged territory.

Talks toward a truce and hostage release deal have stalled for now, said Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a key mediator, despite months of effort also involving US and Egyptian officials.

The Israeli military said Wednesday its aircraft had "struck over 40 terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip" over the past day.

When one strike hit the southernmost city of Rafah, where 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering, Jamalat Ramidan said she "woke up to the sounds of girls shouting 'mama, mama, mama'."

As she fled the carnage alongside children, they stumbled over "body parts and corpses scattered all over the place," Ramidan told AFP.

Vast areas of Gaza have been devastated by more than six months of war, while its 2.4 million people have suffered under an Israeli siege that has blocked most water, food, medicines and other vital supplies.

The war was triggered by an unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also took about 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

Israel's devastating retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,899 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Israel rejects famine claims

Israel has faced growing global opposition to the relentless fighting in Gaza, which the United Nations and aid agencies have warned has pushed the north of the territory to the brink of famine.

But Netanyahu rejected any claims about famine on Wednesday, saying Israel is doing "above and beyond" what is needed "on the humanitarian issue," his office said.

The UN said it would launch an appeal on Wednesday for $2.8 billion to help Palestinians in Gaza and in the occupied West Bank.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war has also revived the push for Palestinian statehood as part of a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict.

The UN Security Council was preparing to vote Thursday on an Algeria-drafted resolution for full United Nations membership for a Palestinian state, diplomatic sources said.

However, the veto-wielding United States has repeatedly expressed opposition to the move.


Italy’s Leader Keeps the Focus on Migration on Her Fourth Visit to Tunisia in a Year

In this photo provided by the Tunisian Presidency, Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in Tunis, Wednesday April 17, 2024. (Tunisian Presidential Palace via AP)
In this photo provided by the Tunisian Presidency, Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in Tunis, Wednesday April 17, 2024. (Tunisian Presidential Palace via AP)
TT

Italy’s Leader Keeps the Focus on Migration on Her Fourth Visit to Tunisia in a Year

In this photo provided by the Tunisian Presidency, Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in Tunis, Wednesday April 17, 2024. (Tunisian Presidential Palace via AP)
In this photo provided by the Tunisian Presidency, Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in Tunis, Wednesday April 17, 2024. (Tunisian Presidential Palace via AP)

The head of Italy's right-wing government acknowledged Wednesday that Tunisia cannot serve as a dumping ground for migrants, days after Tunisia's president reaffirmed his unwillingness to let Europe outsource migration problems by sending those not welcome there to his country.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni said during a visit to Tunisia — her fourth in the past year — that the North African nation “cannot become the arrival point for migrants coming from the rest of Europe.”

However, she sidestepped tensions over how to manage migration via the Mediterranean Sea and instead praised Tunisia and Italy's shared priorities in fighting human traffickers and repatriating African migrants back to their home countries.

Meloni and Tunisian President Kais Saied signed new accords as part of Italy's “Mattei Plan” for Africa, a continent-wide strategy aimed at growing economic opportunities and preventing migration to Europe.

They included education initiatives and 50 million euros (about $53 million) in a budgetary aid package earmarked for renewable energy projects. Meloni also promised to expand efforts to repatriate migrants to their home countries and expand legal migration pathways for Tunisians to work in Italy.

“It is essential that we work together to continue to fight the slavers of the third millennium, the mafia organizations that exploit the legitimate aspirations of those who would like a better life,” Meloni said, referring to smugglers who facilitate migrants' perilous sea journeys.

European leaders often frame migration as a human trafficking issue, though migrants are known to make the trip in various ways and for a variety of reasons.

Nearly 16,000 migrants have made the treacherous journey from North Africa to Italy so far in 2024, travelling thousands of kilometers (miles) from Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, mainly to islands off the Italian mainland. Arrivals tend to increase through spring and summer.

As weather warmed early this year, more migrants arrived with each passing month — a trend that's on track to maintain its pace through April.

Less than half as many migrants had arrived in Italy as of April 15, compared to the same period in 2023, according to figures from the UN refugee agency. That’s in part because of Tunisia's border patrol force, which this year intercepted about 21,000 migrants before they crossed into European waters.

Despite the interceptions, Saied has long insisted he is unwilling to let his country become Europe's “border guard” or accept migrants that Europe wants to deport.

Earlier this week, he said he had no intention of opening detention centers for migrants in an agreement similar to Italy's deal with Albania on asylum seekers. “We will not accept the presence of people outside the law, and Tunisia will not be a victim," Saied said.

North African countries, from Morocco to Egypt, enjoy some leverage in their relations with Europe due to their role in helping control the flow of migrants. Italy and its European Union counterparts have pledged substantial financial support to countries on the other side of the Mediterranean to help prevent migration and trafficking.

But most of the more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) promised to Tunisia as part of an EU agreement brokered in July is contingent on the country reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a stalled bailout package that could require painful spending cuts.

The broader EU package includes 105 million euros ($112 million) earmarked for migration. Romdhane Ben Amor, a spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, which closely follows the migration assistance, said much of it has yet to be disbursed.


UN Security Council to Vote Friday on Palestinian UN Membership

Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Al Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 17 April 2024. (EPA)
Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Al Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 17 April 2024. (EPA)
TT

UN Security Council to Vote Friday on Palestinian UN Membership

Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Al Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 17 April 2024. (EPA)
Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Al Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 17 April 2024. (EPA)

 

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote Friday on a Palestinian request for full UN membership, said diplomats, a move that Israel ally the United States is expected to block because it would effectively recognize a Palestinian state.

The 15-member council is due to vote at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) Friday on a draft resolution that recommends to the 193-member UN General Assembly that "the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations," diplomats said.

A council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass. Diplomats say the measure could have the support of up to 13 council members, which would force the US to use its veto.

Council member Algeria, which put forward the draft resolution, had requested a vote for Thursday afternoon to coincide with a Security Council meeting on the Middle East, which is due to be attended by several ministers.

The United States has said that establishing an independent Palestinian state should happen through direct negotiations between the parties and not at the United Nations.

"We do not see that doing a resolution in the Security Council will necessarily get us to a place where we can find ... a two-state solution moving forward," US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Wednesday.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the 193-member UN General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

'PEACE-LOVING STATES'

The UN Security Council has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.

Little progress has been made on achieving Palestinian statehood since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the early 1990s.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas fighters in Gaza, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said earlier this month that "whoever supports recognizing a Palestinian state at such a time not only gives a prize to terror, but also backs unilateral steps which are contradictory to the agreed-upon principle of direct negotiations."

A Security Council committee on the admission of new members - made up of all 15 council members - met twice last week to discuss the Palestinian application and agreed to a report on the issue on Tuesday.

"Regarding the issue of whether the application met all the criteria for membership ... the Committee was unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council," the report said, adding that "differing views were expressed."

UN membership is open to "peace-loving states" that accept the obligations in the founding UN Charter and are able and willing to carry them out. 


UN Agency Says Staff, Other Gaza Detainees Subjected to Ill-Treatment

A Palestinian youth looks out of a window at buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, on the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024, as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
A Palestinian youth looks out of a window at buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, on the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024, as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
TT

UN Agency Says Staff, Other Gaza Detainees Subjected to Ill-Treatment

A Palestinian youth looks out of a window at buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, on the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024, as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
A Palestinian youth looks out of a window at buildings destroyed during Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, on the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024, as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

The UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said some of its staff members and other people detained by Israeli forces in Gaza were subjected to ill-treatment, including severe beatings and being forced to strip naked.

In a report published on Tuesday, UNRWA said that staff that were detained, in some cases while performing official duties, were "held incommunicado and subjected to the same conditions and ill-treatment as other detainees," which it said included several different forms of abuse.

The agency said staff members had said they were subjected to beatings and treatment akin to waterboarding, threats of rape and electrocution, and were forced to strip naked, among other forms of ill-treatment.

"UNRWA has made official protests to the Israeli authorities about the reported treatment of Agency staff members while they were in Israeli detention centers," it said. "UNRWA has not received any response to these protests to date."

The Israeli military has said it acts according to Israeli and international law and those it arrests get access to food, water, medication and proper clothing. The military and the Israel Prison Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the claims in the UNRWA report.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society has said Israel refuses to disclose information on the number of people from Gaza it has detained over the past six months, or on where they are being held.

UNRWA has documented the release of 1,506 detainees from Gaza, including 43 children and 84 women, by the Israeli authorities through the Kerem Shalom crossing as of April 4.

The freed detainees were subjected to "insults and humiliation such as being made to act like animals or getting urinated on, use of loud music and noise, deprivation of water, food, sleep and toilets, denial of the right to pray and prolonged use of tightly locked handcuffs causing open wounds and friction injuries," according to UNRWA.

"Detainees were threatened with prolonged detention, injury or the killing of family members if they did not provide requested information," UNRWA said.

"In most reported detention incidents, the IDF forced males, including children, to strip down to their underwear. UNRWA also documented at least one occasion where males sheltering in an UNRWA installation were forced to strip naked and were detained while naked."

Israel's military operation in Gaza was triggered by Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, which by its tallies killed 1,200 with 253 taken hostage.

The subsequent bombardment has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian medics, displaced the majority of Gaza's 2.3 million people and caused a grave humanitarian crisis.


Lebanon Likely to Postpone Municipal Elections for 3rd Time amid Political Division

MP Jihad Al-Samad (NNA)
MP Jihad Al-Samad (NNA)
TT

Lebanon Likely to Postpone Municipal Elections for 3rd Time amid Political Division

MP Jihad Al-Samad (NNA)
MP Jihad Al-Samad (NNA)

The Lebanese Parliament is scheduled to convene next week to discuss the postponement of the municipal elections for the third time in a row.

The term of the municipal and elective councils in Lebanon ended for the first time in 2022. The elections were postponed for a year to coincide with the parliamentary elections. But in 2023, they were delayed again for another year by a parliamentary decision.

As the extended term ends on May 30, political figures underlined the need to hold the elections across the country, with the exception of three governorates out of seven, namely the South, Nabatieh and Baalbek-Hermel, “for security reasons related to the Israeli war in the South.”

The head of Parliament’s Defense, Interior and Municipal Affairs, MP Jihad Al-Samad, said he submitted a draft-law to Parliament that would extend the mandate of the municipal and elective councils for another year, noting in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat that the proposal will be in the agenda of the session that is expected to be held next week.

“During the month of Ramadan, we held a session of the Defense and Interior Committee in the presence of Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi, and there were two opinions; The first calls for holding elections, excluding the three governorates, and the second calls for postponing them in light of the existing circumstances,” Al-Samad said.

Although the government says it is prepared to organize the vote, “the first indication of its lack of seriousness was not including financial allocations for holding the elections in the 2024 budget.”

The Interior Ministry announced last week that Mawlawi issued a decree to invite municipal electoral bodies in the districts of Mount Lebanon Governorate to elect members of municipal councils and mukhtars on May 12, 2024.

Political parties voiced their objection to postponing the elections. The head of the Lebanese Forces Party, Samir Geagea, described such decision as “an additional crime against Lebanon and the Lebanese.”

Geagea addressed the “axis of resistance and its allies” by saying: “After you deprived the Lebanese of an actual state, and after you took them to hell, and you disrupted the presidential elections, today you are working hard to deprive them of local authorities.”

Geagea called on the Free Patriotic Movement, which is headed by MP Gebran Bassil, “not to participate in this crime, and not to attend the expected session, in order to force the government to organize municipal elections in all Lebanese regions except those witnessing military operations.”

The Amal Movement, Hezbollah, and the Progressive Socialist Party, in particular, support postponing the elections, while mainly the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb party oppose it.


Jordan Thwarts Relentless Iranian Efforts to Target its Security

Jordanian King Abdullah II. AP file photo
Jordanian King Abdullah II. AP file photo
TT

Jordan Thwarts Relentless Iranian Efforts to Target its Security

Jordanian King Abdullah II. AP file photo
Jordanian King Abdullah II. AP file photo

Jordanian King Abdullah II affirmed his country’s position on “not allowing Jordan to be a battlefield for any party.”

His comments, which came during a meeting on Tuesday with figures from the Mafraq Governorate (70 kilometers northeast of the capital), reflected the same stance that the king conveyed to US President Joe Biden on Sunday.

During a telephone call with Biden, King Abdullah stressed that his country will not “be an arena for a regional war,” calling for the need to “immediately stop the escalation in the region,” and saying that any “Israeli escalatory measures will lead to expanding the circle of conflict.”

At dawn on Sunday, Fars News Agency quoted a military source as saying that the Iranian “armed forces are carefully monitoring Jordan’s movements during the process of disciplining the Zionist entity... If Jordan participates in any potential actions, it will be the next target.”

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday that it had summoned the Iranian ambassador to Amman and asked his country to “stop insulting and questioning” the kingdom’s positions.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a televised appearance that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “will try to create a confrontation with Iran to drag the United States and the West into a regional war, so the focus will shift toward Iran, and the world will forget about Gaza.”

Meanwhile, Jordanian sources confirmed “sensitive information about persistent Iranian efforts to target security in the kingdom” during the past few months.

Those were thwarted and kept secret to avoid causing more tension in the relationship between the two countries, according to the sources.

Jordan is aware that Tehran’s intentions are “to nurture security hotspots, which it will use to harass its opponents in the region.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, a political source noted that Iran wants to “destabilize Jordan and it is looking for a foothold that will disturb the kingdom.”

Earlier this month, Asharq Al-Awsat reported that pro-Iranian Iraqi militias have sought since Oct. 7 to carry out infiltration operations across the Jordanian border to support the Palestinian resistance.

But the Jordanian army was able to thwart many of these attempts, sending “serious threats” through official channels to bomb the Shiite militias that had set up camps in the Trebil area in Iraq, and forcing them to retreat 40 kilometers inside Iraqi territory.

“Amman does not trust Tehran” is a summary of the history of the relationship between the two countries, as described by Jordanian politicians and elites.

“The more chaos in the region expands... the more Iran is able to negotiate to achieve its interests, in a war it is conducting through its proxies,” said Minister Khaled Al-Kalaldeh.


US Envoy Says Full UN Membership Won’t Help Palestinians with Statehood 

A man looks at a plume of smoke after Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
A man looks at a plume of smoke after Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
TT

US Envoy Says Full UN Membership Won’t Help Palestinians with Statehood 

A man looks at a plume of smoke after Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
A man looks at a plume of smoke after Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Wednesday she did not see a UN resolution recommending the Palestinian Authority become a full UN member helping lead to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Thomas-Greenfield made the comments at a news conference in Seoul, after being asked whether the United States was open to recognize the request by the Palestinian Authority to have full UN membership.

"We do not see that doing a resolution in the Security Council will necessarily get us to a place where we can find... a two-state solution moving forward," said Thomas-Greenfield.

She said US President Joe Biden had categorically said that Washington supported a two-state solution and was working on the ground to get that in place as soon as possible.

The Palestinian Authority is expected to push the 15-member Security Council to vote, as early as Thursday, on a draft resolution recommending it become a full member of the world body, diplomats said. Security Council member Algeria circulated a draft text late on Tuesday.

A UN Security Council committee considering the application "was unable to make a unanimous recommendation" on whether it met the criteria, according to the committee report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

An application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council - where the United States can cast a veto - and then at least two-thirds of the 193-member General Assembly.

Little progress has been made on achieving Palestinian statehood since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the early 1990s.

Among the obstacles are expanding Israeli settlements, and Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan has said that the Palestinian Authority had not met the required criteria for statehood.

The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank and is Israel's partner to the Oslo Accords. Hamas in 2007 ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in the Gaza Strip.


Italy Foreign Minister Calls on Israel to Halt Military Operations in Gaza 

Palestinian children check a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment the previous night in Rafah the southern Gaza Strip on April 17, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinian children check a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment the previous night in Rafah the southern Gaza Strip on April 17, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
TT

Italy Foreign Minister Calls on Israel to Halt Military Operations in Gaza 

Palestinian children check a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment the previous night in Rafah the southern Gaza Strip on April 17, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Palestinian children check a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment the previous night in Rafah the southern Gaza Strip on April 17, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Wednesday called on Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza, reiterating that it was time for a ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave.

Italy initially backed Israel's actions following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on its southern territories, but more recently it has softened its support in the light of the thousands of civilian deaths.

In an interview with daily La Stampa, Tajani stressed that the war in Gaza was triggered by the Hamas's "barbaric" assault.

He then added: "However, now a ceasefire is necessary. Israel must stop the military operations that have massively affected the Palestinian population."

The interview was conducted ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven wealthy nations which will be hosted by Tajani on the Italian island of Capri. Italy holds the rotating presidency of the G7.


Egypt, Türkiye Forge Closer Ties After Ending Rift

The Egyptian president shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart during his visit to Cairo last February (AFP)
The Egyptian president shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart during his visit to Cairo last February (AFP)
TT

Egypt, Türkiye Forge Closer Ties After Ending Rift

The Egyptian president shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart during his visit to Cairo last February (AFP)
The Egyptian president shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart during his visit to Cairo last February (AFP)

Cairo and Ankara are swiftly repairing their relationship after years of tension. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is expected to visit Türkiye this week, setting the stage for a possible visit by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Ankara, as previously announced.

According to Turkish diplomatic sources, Shoukry will discuss Middle East developments and Gaza with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan. The focus will be on ceasefire negotiations in Gaza.

While Egypt hasn’t confirmed the visit officially, reports suggest Shoukry will meet Fidan in Türkiye by the week’s end. This marks Shoukry’s second visit since relations normalized in 2023.

Experts see Shoukry’s visit as preparation for Sisi’s potential visit to Türkiye, aiming to discuss cooperation and set the agenda for an Egyptian-Turkish summit.

This sentiment was echoed by Karam Said, an expert on Turkish affairs at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

“A part of Shoukry’s visit will focus on preparing for the anticipated visit by Sisi and agreeing on the agenda for the Egyptian-Turkish summit and clarifying the issues to be discussed between the two countries,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Said highlighted that Shoukry’s upcoming visit to Türkiye is crucial given current tensions in bilateral relations and regional conflicts.

It aligns with both countries’ efforts to ease tensions, prevent escalation, and mitigate the fallout from the Iranian-Israeli conflict.

Last year’s groundbreaking meeting between Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Cairo signaled a shift toward normalization after over a decade of strained relations.

Egypt and Türkiye elevated diplomatic ties, with both presidents meeting twice and officials from both countries holding multiple discussions.

Enhancing relations benefits both countries and could contribute to resolving regional conflicts. The timing of Shoukry’s visit is crucial, given regional tensions, especially concerning Gaza and the Iranian-Israeli escalation.

Egypt and Türkiye’s warming relations could pave the way for broader regional cooperation, potentially easing conflicts and fostering dialogue in the region.


Iran-Israel Tension Delays Decision on US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, US, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, US, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
TT

Iran-Israel Tension Delays Decision on US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, US, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, US, April 15, 2024. REUTERS/REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani struck military deals and security agreements in meetings at the White House and with US officials, welcomed by Iraqi circles.

Sudani and US President Joe Biden had conflicting viewpoints on the Gaza conflict. The Iraqi PM stressed no escalation and voiced Iraq’s wish to end the US-led international coalition’s mission and move to a bilateral relationship, covering various fields under the “Strategic Framework Agreement,” according to Asharq Al-Awsat sources.

Biden and Sudani agreed, however, to work together on politics, economics, and security.

They aim for Iraq to produce its own energy by 2030, improve electricity reliability, and connect its power grid with neighboring countries, including Jordan and Gulf states.

A key focus of their talks was preventing ISIS from regrouping after setbacks inflicted by the international coalition over the past decade.

Biden and Sudani pledged to keep discussing security threats and strengthening Iraqi forces, with an eye toward ending the coalition’s mission and transitioning to a lasting bilateral security partnership as per Iraqi law and agreements between Baghdad and Washington.

Tensions rise in the Middle East amid worries about potential Israeli actions against Iran, while discussions continue on the withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Iraq.

The US insists on ongoing talks without setting a clear exit date for the troops.

Conversations also covered financial reforms, combating money laundering and corruption, and boosting Iraq’s ties to the global economy to attract foreign investment.

US officials vowed to work with Baghdad against illicit finance and sanctioned activities.

Biden praised the Iraqi Prime Minister’s efforts in reaching agreements with the Kurdistan Regional Government and ensuring salaries for civil servants in the region.

Both sides affirmed Kurdistan’s integral role in Iraq, with Biden backing free and fair elections there.

Farhad Alaa Al-Din, advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, stated the visit is on track with productive meetings.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that after key political discussions, Iraqi officials will meet with investors, companies, and communities in Houston and Michigan, engaging with media and intellectuals.