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Netanyahu hopes to ‘make history’ at talks on Trump peace plan

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced hope Sunday that he can “make history” in Washington this week during talks on US President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East.

Netanyahu has been invited to meet Trump at the White House on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the project, which has already been dismissed by the Palestinians.

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“We are in the midst of very dramatic diplomatic developments, but the climax is still ahead of us,” Netanyahu told reporters ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting.

“In a short while, I’ll leave for Washington to meet my friend, the President of the United States Donald Trump, who will present his deal of the century… I’m full of hope that we can make history,” he added.

Trump on Thursday said he will release his long-delayed plan before meeting Netanyahu in Washington.

“It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work,” Trump said.

Netanyahu’s political rival Benny Gantz has also been invited to the White House to meet with Trump on Monday.

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Gantz told a news conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday that the “peace plan devised by President Trump will go down in history as a meaningful landmark”.

He expected the initiative to allow “different players in the Middle East to finally move ahead towards an historic regional agreement”.

The Palestinian leadership was not invited and has already rejected Trump’s plan amid tense relations with the US president over his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

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“This step only reaffirms our absolute rejection of what the US administration has done so far, particularly the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s spokesman said in a statement.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and believe Trump’s plan buries the two-state solution that has been for decades the cornerstone of international Middle East diplomacy.

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World powers have long agreed that Jerusalem’s fate should be settled through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

– Israel’s ‘greatest friend’ –

Israel has occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

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More than 600,000 Israelis now live there in settlements considered illegal under international law.

Trump’s peace initiative has been in the works since 2017.

The economic component of the initiative was unveiled in June and calls for $50 billion in international investment in the Palestinian territories and neighbouring Arab countries over 10 years.

Trump came to power in 2017 promising to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, which he labelled the “ultimate deal”.

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The US president has repeatedly boasted that he is the most pro-Israeli US president in history.

Netanyahu in a statement Saturday called Trump “the greatest friend that Israel has ever had”.

Gantz also showered Trump with praise during his news conference.

“I wish to thank President Trump for his dedication and determination in defending the security interests that both Israel and the US share,” Gantz said.

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Trump’s separate meetings with Netanyahu and Gantz come a little more than a month before new Israeli elections, with polls showing Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party running neck-and-neck.

Israeli media speculated that Trump had chosen to unveil his plan in support of Netanyahu’s election bid — the third in a year.


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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.

His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.

Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:

Winners

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice,  and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.

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Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst

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Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.

"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."

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Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.

WATCH: Protesters interrupt the #DemDebate as the debate nears end. pic.twitter.com/TKCn6eIEsN

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020

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