King Salman Asserts Saudi Support for Trump’s Firm Iran Policy


Riyadh – Saudi Arabia said it supports and welcomes the recently announced United States strategy towards Iran, its hostile behavior, and funding of international and regional terror, said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz when chairing a cabinet session on Tuesday.

He also confirmed Saudi Arabia’s continued commitment to collaborating with US partners in an effort to achieve objectives announced by US President Donald Trump.

At the outset of the cabinet session, King Salman briefed ministers on the telephone call he had with Trump during which the monarch emphasized Riyadh’s support of his firm strategy towards Iran, its aggressive activities and support for terrorism in the region and worldwide.

He also stressed the Kingdom’s full commitment to continue working with its partners in the US to achieve the desired goals announced by Trump.

The King also briefed the cabinet on the results of his meeting with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, during which they reviewed bilateral relations and discussed overall regional events.

The cabinet was briefed on the telephone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during which the Palestinian leader reviewed with King Salman the recently signed Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement.

King Salman gave great emphasis to “unity” in paving the way ahead for the Palestinian Authority to further serve its citizens. He said that the Kingdom is looking forward to this important reconciliation, which realizes the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians.

The King briefed the cabinet on a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi during which he stressed Riyadh’s support for Iraq’s unity, security and stability. He underlined the adherence of all parties to the Iraqi constitution for the interest of Iraq and its people.

The Cabinet also reviewed a number of regional and international developments, including outcomes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual and the World Bank (WB) meetings in Washington.

Meetings focused on the development of the Kingdom’s economy and its efforts in implementing its transformation Vision 2030, affiliated operational programs and initiatives.

King Salman Congratulates Palestinian President on Reconciliation Agreement

Riyadh- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has congratulated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the reconciliation agreement struck between Fatah and Hamas movements in Cairo this week.

King Salman received on Friday a telephone call from Abbas who briefed him on the reconciliation deal.

During the conversation, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed that unity is the roadmap to enabling the Palestinian government to serve its people.

He also lauded the efforts of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his government in striking the agreement.

For his part, Abbas expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his noble feelings and the support the Palestinian people receive from the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the era of late King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman to date.

An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs also welcomed the reconciliation deal.

The source reaffirmed the Kingdom’s hope that this significant breakthrough would fulfill aspirations of the Palestinian people for achieving national unity and ending Palestinian internal division, in order to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights, in line with the resolutions of international legitimacy and Arab Peace Initiative.

Abbas to Visit Gaza as Details of Fatah-Hamas Deal Emerge

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza for the first time in a decade within a month, a top official in his Fatah party said on Thursday after the movement reached a deal with Hamas over political reconciliation.

Abbas “will be in Gaza within less than a month,” Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told Agence France Presse following a breakthrough in talks between the two sides mediated by Egypt in Cairo.

Abbas, who told AFP that the unity deal is the “final agreement” to end Palestinian split, has not visited the enclave since his forces were pushed out in 2007 by Hamas which has controlled it ever since. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Abbas’ Fatah-backed government.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement Thursday that the Cairo agreement was reached under “generous Egyptian auspices,” but provided no details.

An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the talks closely.

“We congratulate our Palestinian people on the reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo. We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.

Some 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority are to redeploy to Gaza as part of the deal, a Palestinian official said.

“According to the agreement, the Palestinian government will be able to take over all its roles in the civil and security sectors, for which 3,000 Palestinian policemen from the …. Palestinian Authority will be redeployed,” the official involved in the talks told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A party to the negotiations said the agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based PA, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Both rivals hope the deal’s proposed deployment of security personnel from the PA to Gaza’s borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to lift their tight restrictions at border crossings, a much needed step to help Gaza revive its economy.

Revolutionary Council, Fatah Welcome Palestinian Reconciliation


The Revolutionary Council and the Fatah Central Committee, the two largest bodies in the Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, have endorsed the terms of Palestinian reconciliation and supported its steps.

They stressed that the meeting, which is going to be held in Cairo Tuesday will be crucial to its success, considering that it will discuss the practical and detailed steps to enable the Government of National Reconciliation to govern.

President Abbas delivered a speech before the two bodies and talked about the importance of this reconciliation process.

However, he sounded cautious, recalling previous experiences that failed.

“National reconciliation is a top priority that we seek to achieve by all possible means in order to protect the Palestinian national project and meet aspirations of our people to have their freedom and independence,” Abbas said.

“Since the beginning of the division, we have sought, in cooperation with the Arab League and the brothers in Egypt, to end it by peaceful means. We have signed several agreements, the most important of which are the Cairo Agreement of 2011 and the Beach Refugee Camp agreement.”

Abbas added that Hamas’s approval to dissolve the administrative committee that it has formed in Gaza Strip, the visit of the national unity government to the strip and the approval to carry out general elections, “are the right way to achieve national unity, which is indispensable to us, as it is the basis for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.”

Abbas tackled other issues such as the captives, Jerusalem and the political file as he briefed the members on the US moves in this regard.

He talked about the 1917 Balfour Declaration in its 100-year anniversary, and he denounced what Britain announced its support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”-as a “crime against our people.”

He also slammed the United Kingdom for having launched the process that led to the creation of the State of Israel in the first place.

In a common matter, Hamas official Salah Bardawil said that his movement is going to participate in any future unity government.

“We have the will to promote the peaceful settlement and have the courage to take the responsibilities brought by the settlement agreement to end the split. We need all people to join in the movement in order to alleviate the sufferings of our people and face Israel’s occupation in unity,” said Bardawil.

He also referred to the issue of Hamas’s insistence on maintaining its military power, which is one of the obstacles that might impede reconciliation since the Palestinian president insists on the existence of one weapon and one regime and does not agree with the Hezbollah model in Lebanon.

Bardawil stressed that his movement seeks to achieve a reconciliation, based on partnership while the issue of the resistance arms was not mentioned by any party to be discussed.

Palestinian PM Chairs Cabinet Session in Gaza


Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah convened a cabinet meeting in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for the first time in three years.

This marks a major step towards reconciliation between the mainstream Fatah party and Islamist group Hamas.

“Today, we stand before an important, historical moment as we begin to get over our wounds, put our differences aside and place the higher national interest above all else,” Hamdallah said.

Tuesday’s meeting in Gaza took place at the residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in fighting with Fatah forces loyal to Abbas and has ruled the impoverished desert enclave of two million people since then.

The cabinet session was the first in Gaza since 2014, Hamdallah told his ministers, and a major step in a reconciliation process promoted by neighboring Egypt and other US-allied Arab countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting legislators from his right-wing Likud party, said the Palestinians were engaging in “fictitious reconciliations” and he referred to Iranian funding for Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

“The way we see it is very simple: Recognize the State of Israel, dismantle the Hamas military wing, cut the ties to Iran, which calls for our destruction,” he said in remarks broadcast on Army Radio.

Abbas told Egyptian TV station CBC on Monday there could be only ”one state, one regime, one law and one weapon” in the Gaza Strip, reiterating a long-held position that security should be in the hands of only the Palestinian Authority (PA), which he heads, and that the PA must control border crossing points.

Both Israel and Egypt – whose intelligence chief arrived in Gaza to meet Hamas leaders, Hamdallah and officials from other Palestinian factions – maintain a partial blockade of Gaza, citing security concerns.

The Palestinian premier arrived in Gaza on Monday with armed guards and an entourage of West Bank officials to a hero’s welcome from about 2,000 people.

“The only way to statehood is through unity,” Hamdallah told the crowd. “We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split.”

He also said the reconciliation will require “hard efforts, time, patience, and wisdom.”

Huge posters of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who brokered the reconciliation effort, were featured outside Abbas’ residence as Hamas policemen were deployed all around.

Egyptian intelligence chief Khaled Fawzy was set to visit Gaza later on Tuesday for meetings with both sides and carrying a letter from Sisi. It would mark the highest ranking Egyptian official to visit Gaza since 2007.

Hamdallah’s ministers are expected to begin taking over government ministries after Tuesday’s meeting, with negotiations in Cairo on more difficult issues in the coming weeks.

Palestinian Gunman Kills Three Israeli Soldiers near Jerusalem


Tel Aviv- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened, at the beginning of the weekly ministerial meeting, to demolish the house of the Palestinian Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, 37, who killed three soldiers from the Israeli Border Police.

Netanyahu also announced sanctions against his family and village, accusing the Palestinian authority of standing behind the operation due to the “systematized incitement.” He demanded a clear condemnation of the attack from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Fatah media official Munir Jaghob said that Israel bears all responsibility for the Palestinian reactions on the occupation crimes, and if the occupation continues its aggression on the Palestinian people then it should expect more violence.

Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, the 37-year-old Palestinian who shot to death three Israelis and injured another at the entrance to the settlement of Har Adar, was recently left by his wife, likely due to domestic violence, and left her a final message before carrying out the attack.

“When you wake up in the morning, share this message on my page. Let your conscience rest. You were a good wife, Umm Baha [mother of Baha], and a compassionate mother and I was the one who behaved badly. I say this in full awareness: my wife had nothing to do with what will happen tomorrow,” he wrote.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated that the policy of providing Palestinians with permits should be examined because it is impossible to know where the next operation will be at a time when there are ideological terrorism and incitement via social networks.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the Palestinian people choice of resistance is the right response on supporters of surrendering and submission. It considered the operation to fall under resistant work against settlers.

Hamas spokesman Husam Badran praised the operation, which he considers it to be a response to the occupation crimes and continuous violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque. He also affirmed that the heroic operation next to occupied Jerusalem signifies that the revolution of Jerusalem persists even if it calms from time to time.

Palestinian Government to Hold Weekly Session in Gaza

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will travel to Gaza on Monday as part of a fresh push to end a decade-long split between the Fatah and Hamas movements, his government announced.

“Hamdallah has decided after consulting with president Mahmoud Abbas that the government will hold its weekly meeting in Gaza next week,” government spokesman Yusuf Al Mahmoud said in a statement published by official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

“Hamdallah and members of the government will arrive in Gaza next Monday to start taking over government responsibilities after Hamas announced its agreement to dissolve the administrative committee and enable the government to assume its full responsibilities.”

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has made concessions after discussions with Egypt that has urged it to take steps towards reconciliation with Abbas’ Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank.

Hamas said a week ago that it had agreed to steps towards resolving the split with Fatah, announcing it would dissolve the administrative committee, a body seen as a rival government, and was ready to hold elections.

Hamdallah, who is not believed to have traveled to the enclave since 2015, also wrote about the visit on his Facebook page.

“I am heading to the beloved Gaza Strip next Monday with the government and all bodies, authorities and security services,” he wrote.

“We hope all parties and all Palestinians will focus on the national interest to enable the government to continue carrying out all of its functions in a way which serves the Palestinian citizens first.”
It remains unclear whether the steps will result in further concrete action towards ending the deep division between Fatah and Hamas.

Hamas Urges Palestinian Authority to Assume Gaza Duties without Delay


Ramallah – Hamas asked on Monday the Palestinian government headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to quickly come to the Gaza Strip to assume its duties.

“We demand President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah movement to immediately allow Hamdallah’s government to carry out its full duties and responsibilities in Gaza without delay or disruption,” said Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, Hamas announced from Cairo the dissolution of the so-called administrative committee that runs Gaza, calling on the government of national accord to assume its duties in the coastal strip and declaring that it accepts holding the general elections.

Hamas also expressed a readiness to restart dialogue with Fatah on the mechanisms to implement the Cairo Agreement that was reached between the two rival Palestinian factions in 2011. The deal calls for forming a national unity government, holding presidential and parliamentary elections and polls to elect member of the national council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

It is still unclear when the unity government would take over the Gaza Strip.

Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to Abbas, said on Monday that Hamdallah plans to visit the Gaza Strip and meet Hamas officials soon.

However, the adviser did not specify the exact date of the prime minister’s visit.

Meanwhile, Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke on Monday for the first time in over a year.

Speaking from New York by phone, Abbas asserted to Hanieyh the need to implement the Cairo agreement.

In response, Haniyeh told the PA president that Hamas was “determined to move ahead with steps to end the division, with all willingness and determination, with the goal of uniting our Palestinian people.”

Next week, Hamas and Fatah representatives are expected to hold talks in Cairo.

Observers still believe there are several obstacles that would hinder the implementation of the reconciliation between the two parties.

Abbas Arrives in US, Prepares UN Speech Calling for State Based on 1967 Borders


Ramallah – Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah said President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech before the United Nations General Assembly later this week will be extremely important.

Abu Rudainah said Abbas will emphasize the need for a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as the capital of the independent state of Palestine.

He reiterated the position of the leadership that there should be no “temporary [Palestinian] state nor a state in the Gaza Strip without the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian leadership will only accept an “independent and sovereign state based on the 1967 borders,” he added.

Abbas arrived Sunday in New York to take part in the proceedings of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

He is expected to deliver his speech on Wednesday and meet US President Donald Trump and a number of world leaders and heads of delegations joining the session.

Abbas’s trip comes amid continued efforts by the United States to resume stalled Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump expressed new hope over a potential peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during a meeting with Jewish leaders Friday on the occasion of the Jewish new year.

He said that the new year “offers a new opportunity to seek peace.”

He added that he was “very hopeful that we will see significant progress before the end of the year,”

Trump said that his team, which includes Jared Kushner, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt are working hard to reach a peace agreement, “something that actually could happen.”

Abu Rudainah said: “We hope so. The promises of the US president are important, and we are waiting to translate them on the ground. If this can be achieved, it will be a turning point in the Middle East and for peace in many parts of this world.”

Abbas is not scheduled to meet Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who will meet Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and deliver a speech a day before Abbas.

Hamas Agrees to Elections in Effort to End Fatah Dispute


The Palestinian movement Hamas announced on Sunday that it was ready to hold general elections after it dissolved its administration in the Gaza Strip.

This is seen as a bid to end the long dispute with Fatah movement chief President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas said in a statement on Sunday that it has dissolved its shadow government, that it will allow the reconciliation government to operate in Gaza and that it agrees to hold elections and enter talks with Fatah.

“The administrative committee is now dissolved and the government can come to Gaza today to assume its responsibilities and duties,” Hamas official Hussam Badran told The Associated Press.

“We accepted that as a sign of our good will toward reconciliation.”

Fatah welcomed the Hamas’ announcement, but said it wants to see vows implemented before making the next move.

Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah official welcomed cautiously Hamas’s position. “If this is Hamas statement, then this is a positive sign,” he told Reuters.

“We in Fatah movement are ready to implement reconciliation.”

The last Palestinian legislative election was held in 2006 when Hamas scored a surprise victory, which laid the ground for a political rupture.

Armed clashes erupted between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2007 and since then Hamas has governed the small coastal enclave.

Numerous attempts since 2011 to reconcile the two movements and form a power-sharing unity government in Gaza and the West Bank have so far failed.

Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but despite that agreement, Hamas’s shadow government has continued to rule the Gaza Strip.

Hoping to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, Abbas has cut payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza. This means that electricity has often been provided for less than four hours a day, and never more than six.

Representatives for Abbas, who is in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly this week, could not be reached for comment, nor could Fatah representatives presently in Egypt, which has been hosting talks with Hamas.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah participant in the talks, said Hamas and Fatah agreed to meet in Cairo within 10 days, during which time the national unity government should assume its responsibility in Gaza.