MON 17 - 6 - 2019
Date: May 24, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Trump’s Mideast peace plan months away: Friedman
UNITED NATIONS / RAMALLAH, Palestine: The U.S. Ambassador to Israel said Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s Middle East peace plan is just months away.

David Friedman spoke with Israeli media at the new U.S. Embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

He said the plan will be launched “within months,” but had no exact date. Friedman told Channel 10 TV Wednesday, “It’s not finalized ... there’s an awful lot of listening going on.” He added, “it’s not just the substance but also the timing and the presentation.”

Trump has promised to pursue the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians.

This followed news that a Palestinian teenager shot by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank had died of his wounds, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement.

The 15-year-old was shot at the entrance of Al-Bireh, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, the statement said. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident. The Health Ministry did not say what day the teen was wounded, but the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said he was shot in the stomach on May 15.

The U.N.’s Mideast envoy meanwhile called for urgent action to avoid another Israeli-Palestinian war sparked by the violence in Gaza.

Nikolay Mladenov told the U.N. Security Council that “Gaza is on the verge of collapse” and urgent action is needed to relieve the suffering of its “increasingly desperate” people.

Mladenov said the people of Gaza have survived three “devastating conflicts” and have lived “with crippling Israeli closures and with diminishing hopes for an end to the occupation and a political solution.”

He stressed Israel has a responsibility not to use lethal force “except as a last resort under imminent threat of death or serious injury.”

Mladenov announced new U.N. efforts to speed up infrastructure and economic development projects in Gaza, improve access to the territory, and support the Egyptian-led process to reconcile Hamas and Fatah.

“Gaza’s infrastructure teeters on the verge of total collapse, particularly its electricity and water networks as well as its health system,” he said.

After his briefing, the Security Council held closed consultations including on a proposed U.N. resolution backed by Arab nations condemning Israel’s use of force against Palestinian civilians “in the strongest terms,” especially in Gaza, and authorizing the deployment of an international force to protect civilians. The Kuwait-sponsored draft resolution also calls for “the full lifting of the blockade” of Gaza and demands Israel immediately stop the “unlawful use of force against civilians, including in the Gaza Strip.”

Mladenov also told the Security Council that the Palestinians had joined the Geneva-based U.N. trade organization UNCTAD, Vienna-based industrial development agency UNIDO and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The envoy did not address whether the decision will have an impact on U.S. funding for these agencies and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The OPCW and UNCTAD rely on voluntary contributions from U.N. member states to fund their activities as well as regular funding for their budgets.

The U.S. withdrew some funding for UNESCO when the Palestinians joined the cultural and education agency in 2011 and last year pulled out of the agency altogether.

The Trump administration has also cut funds to the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency, leaving UNRWA struggling to fill a major gap in its education and health programs.

Separately, the Arab League said that it will no longer cooperate on any level with Guatemala because of the country’s decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem.

The Cairo-based organization said it has abandoned a memorandum of understanding signed in 2013 and has severed relations with the Central American country.

Guatemala moved its embassy to occupied Jerusalem earlier this month, following the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy there.

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