Excerpts: Egypt.Jordan say n concessions on a Palestinian state. Khamenei
calls Israel ‘Fake’ Nation’Dirt y Chapter’. Mathis:US not in Iraq to seize
anybody’s oil’. Secret 2016 meeting February 21, 2017
SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 21 Feb.’17:”Egypt,Jordan Say No Concessions on a
Palestinian State, by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:Egypt,Jordan say no concessions on a Palestinian state
FULL TEXT:Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah II of
Jordan agreed Tuesday[21 Feb] there could be no concessions on establishing
a Palestinian state, the presidency said after talks in Cairo.
The meeting between the leaders of the two Arab countries that have signed
peace treaties with Israel came after U.S. President Donald Trump’s
administration suggested it would not insist on a Palestinian state for a
Middle East peace agreement.
“The two sides discussed ways to push the stagnant Middle East peace
process, especially in light of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration
coming to power,” a presidency statement said.
A two-state solution “with a Palestinian state… with east Jerusalem as its
capital is a nationalist principle that cannot be conceded.”
After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington
earlier this month, Trump said he would entertain a “two-state and a
But his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, later tempered this
stance, saying Washington “absolutely” supports a two-state solution but
wants new ideas on how to move forward.
The two-state solution — a Palestinian one alongside Israel — has long
been the cornerstone of U.S. and international policy, and the seeming
American shift was greeted with hostility from other world powers.
+++SOURCE: Naharnet(Lebanon) 21 Feb.’17:”Iran’s Leader Calls Israel a ‘Fake’
Nation,’Dirty Chapter’ ”,by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:Khamenei:calls Israel ‘Fake’ Nation ‘Dirty Chapter’
Iran’s supreme leader has used the podium of a pro-Palestinian gathering in
Tehran to call Israel a “fake” nation and a “dirty chapter” of history.
The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday are some of his most
vitriolic against the Jewish state, Iran’s archenemy.
Khamenei says Israel was created by bringing Jews from other parts of the
world to the Mideast region to settle in the land of the Palestinians.
He says that the creation of Israel is “one of the dirty chapters of history
that will be closed, with the grace of God.”
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, urged all Muslims
to support the Palestinians and “resistance” movements — a reference to
anti-Israeli militant groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s
SourceAgence France Presse
+++JORDAN TIMES 21 Feb.’17:” Trump’s defence chief: ‘We’re not in Iraq to
seize anybody’s oil”,by Reuters’
SUBJECT:US Defense Sec.Mattis:’We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil’
FULL TEXT:BAGHDAD — The US military is “not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil”,
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said, distancing himself from remarks by
President Donald Trump, as he held talks with Iraqi leaders on Monday.[20
Mattis was the highest-ranking Trump administration official to visit Iraq
since Trump irked Iraqis with a temporary ban on travel to the United
States, and for saying America should have seized Iraq’s oil after toppling
Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Trump told CIA staff in January: “We should have kept the oil. But okay.
Maybe you’ll have another chance.”
Mattis, however, flatly ruled out any such intent. “We’re not in Iraq to
seize anybody’s oil,” he told reporters travelling with him late on
Sunday[19 Feb], ahead of his arrival.
“All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and
I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future,” said Mattis, a
retired Marine general who once led forces in Iraq.
His remarks are the latest sign of differences with Trump. Trump has
acknowledged that Mattis disagrees with him about the usefulness of torture
in interrogation and said he would defer to his defense secretary on the
Mattis has been more critical than Trump of Russian President Vladimir
Putin, and distanced himself from Trump’s labelling of the media as “the
enemy of the American people”, saying he had no problems with the press.
A retired Marine general who led American troops in Iraq, Mattis has sought
an exemption from Trump’s travel ban for Iraqis who have served with US
troops, including translators.
He said he had not seen a new executive order which the administration is
considering. “But I right now am assured that we will take steps to allow
those who have fought alongside us, for example, to be allowed into the
United States,” Mattis said.
Mattis’ visit came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi
announced the start of a ground offensive on western Mosul, where the Daesh
terror group militants are under siege along with an estimated 650,000
It was unclear whether Trump’s remarks on oil had come up during Mattis’
with Abadi, who has told Washington that Iraq’s oil is the property of
Mattis also met Iraq’s defence minister and top US officials in Iraq.
Will US forces stay after Mosul?: Influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr
on Monday[20 Feb] called on Iraq’s government to order the withdrawal of US
and allied forces after the battle of Mosul is over.
“The Iraqi government has to demand that all occupying and so-called
friendly forces leave Iraq in order to preserve the prestige and the
sovereignty of the state,” Sadr said.
Mattis declined to address Sadr’s remarks directly, describing them as an
internal political matter.
But he said he was reassured after his talks in Baghdad that Iraq’s leaders
recognized the value of its relationship with the United States.
“I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each
other,” he said, repeatedly praising the resilience of Iraqi forces.
The US commander in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said
he believes US-backed forces will recapture both of Daesh’s major
strongholds — Mosul and the city of Raqqa in Syria — within the next six
Trump is looking for a plan to accelerate the campaign against Daesh, which
could lead to an additional deployment of US forces, who currently number
less than 6,000 in Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon may also look at increasing the number of attack helicopters
and air strikes and bringing in more artillery, as well as granting greater
authority to battlefield commanders fighting Daesh.
Townsend told a news conference in Baghdad he had been putting US military
advisers closer to front lines in Mosul than before, a move that would
increase risk but bolster their ability to aid Iraqis, including by
directing air strikes.
“We adjusted our posture during the east Mosul fight and we embedded
advisers a bit further down into the formation,” he said. Townsend added he
was certain victory in Mosul was within sight. “The Iraqi security forces
are going to take that city back. No doubt about it,” he said.
+++SOURCE: Al Arabiya 20 Feb’17:”Netanyahu ‘spurned a peace offer’at secret
2016 meeting”,by Associated Press
SUBJECT:Secret 2016 meeting
QUOTE:”Netanyahu took part in a secret summit that Kerry organized in the
southern Jordanian port city of Aqaba last February” Reuters)
FULL TEXT:Israel’s prime minister turned down a regional peace initiative
last year that was brokered by then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry,
former American officials confirmed Sunday[19 Feb], in apparent
contradiction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated goal of involving regional Arab
powers in resolving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu took part in a secret summit that Kerry organized in the southern
Jordanian port city of Aqaba last February and included Jordan’s King
Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The secret meeting
was first reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz1
According to two former Obama administration officials, Kerry proposed
regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – a key Netanyahu demand -
alongside a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians with the support of
the Arab countries.
Netanyahu rejected the offer, which would have required a significant
pullout from occupied land, saying he would not be able to garner enough
support for it in his hard-line coalition government.
The initiative also appeared to be the basis of short-lived talks with
moderate opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join the government, a plan that
quickly unraveled when Netanyahu chose to bring in nationalist leader
Avigdor Lieberman instead and appoint him defense minister.
Herzog tweeted Sunday that “history will definitely judge the magnitude of
the opportunity as well as the magnitude of the missed opportunity.”
Two former top aides to Kerry confirmed that the meeting took place secretly
on Feb. 21, 2016. According to the officials, Kerry tried to sweeten the
15-year-old “Arab Peace Initiative,” a Saudi-led plan that offered Israel
peace with dozens of Arab and Muslim nations in return for a pullout from
territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war to make way for an independent
Among the proposed changes were Arab recognition of Israel as the Jewish
state, recognition of Jerusalem as a shared capital for Israelis and
Palestinians, and softened language on the “right of return” of Palestinian
refugees to lost properties in what is now Israel, the former officials
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were still
not authorized to discuss the secret meeting publicly, said the Egyptian and
Jordanian leaders reacted positively to the proposal, while Netanyahu
refused to commit to anything beyond meetings with the Palestinian President
One of the officials said the main purpose of the meeting was to start a
regional peace process that Netanyahu said he wanted. However, he said it
was not clear if the Arab states would have gone along with it either.
He said it appeared that Netanyahu was not interested in more than meeting
Abbas and some Arab leaders and promising unspecified confidence building
steps. This was not enough for anyone at the meeting and would not have been
enough to get other Arab states to even express willingness to pursue a
regional approach, the former official said.
“We saw it as building on, or updating, but certainly not superseding” the
2002 Arab initiative, one of the officials said.
A second former official said other Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi
Arabia, along with the Palestinians, the Europeans and the Russians, were
also consulted as part of the process. There are no official comments from
Saudi, European and other states that were consulted.
The officials said opposition inside Netanyahu’s hard-line government, which
is dominated by nationalists opposed to Palestinian independence, presented
a formidable obstacle. But he said the Arab partners also showed varying
degrees of enthusiasm, with the Palestinians most concerned about
concessions forced on them.
In Cairo, Sisi’s office issued a statement late Sunday that appeared to
implicitly confirm that the meeting took place. It said Egypt been working
toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It is in
this framework that Egypt has sought to bring closer the positions of the
relevant parties and supported any meetings or initiatives aimed at
discussing Practical ideas that would revive the peace process,” said the
statement without directly mentioning the Aqaba meeting.
Netanyahu himself did not address the newspaper report in his weekly Cabinet
meeting and his office refused to comment. Instead, the prime minister
focused on last week’s visit to Washington to meet new President Donald
At that meeting, both Trump and Netanyahu talked of searching for new ways
forward with the Palestinians and raised the possibility of involving the
broader Arab world in a new peace process.
Netanyahu called the meeting “historic” and one that strengthened the two
countries’ longtime alliance. He said at the end of meeting, Trump shook his
hand and told him it was a “new day” in Israeli-American relations.
After eight years of testy ties with Barack Obama, Netanyahu seems to be
relishing Trump’s warm embrace. The new president has broken from his
predecessor in adopting friendlier positions to the Israeli government
regarding a tough line on Iran, a vaguer stance on Palestinian statehood and
a more lenient approach to West Bank settlements.
Netanyahu said the two leaders see “eye to eye” on Iran and a host of other
issues. “There is a new day and it is a good day,” he said.
But in a joint press conference last week, behind the warm smiles there were
signs of trouble ahead.
Trump asked Netanyahu to “hold off” on Jewish settlement construction in
occupied territories the Palestinians claim for a future state. Netanyahu
said Sunday that the sides have formed joint teams to coordinate settlement
In a striking departure from longtime American policy, Trump also refrained
from supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While this pleased Netanyahu’s hard line coalition partners, Trump still
said whatever solution is reached would have to be acceptable to both sides.
That has raised questions about what kind of agreement could be reached. The
alternative, a single binational state, could require Israel to grant
citizenship to millions Palestinians under its control, threatening its
status as a Jewish-majority democracy.
Lieberman, the Israeli defense minister, said that for him a Palestinian
state remains the preferred outcome – and it should come through the type of
regional structure Netanyahu reportedly rejected.
“My vision, it’s the endgame no doubt, two-state solution. I believe that
it’s necessary for us to keep the Jewish state,” he said at the Munich
Security Conference. “The Palestinians don’t have capacity to sign a lone
final status agreement with Israel. It’s possible only as a part of an
all-regional solution, not an incremental process but simultaneously.”
Sue Lerner – Associate, IMRA