Anti-Semitism in Europe and other places around the world sped up the release of a plan for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a senior American official said Wednesday.
Speaking at the Meridian International Center, U.S. President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien defended that it is the right thing to come up with a "bold" plan for the people of Palestine and Israel.
Stating that it might not be a "perfect" plan from Palestinians' point of view, O'Brien said: "What they need to do is come to the table and negotiate the plan."
"One of the reasons we moved as quickly as we did is the Israeli birth rate is strong and is growing, because sadly, anti-Semitism in Europe and other places around the world is encouraging more Jews to return to Israel," said the top official.
He said Israeli settlements will continue to expand, adding: "If this freeze on settlements doesn't hold, if this peace process doesn't work, it may be physically impossible to have a two-state solution."
Divided US Senate acquits Trump in impeachment trial
The U.S. Senate voted largely along party lines Wednesday to clear President Donald Trump of the two impeachment articles passed by the House of Representatives in December, ending only the third such trial in American history.Republican hopes for a unified front resisting the president's ouster were dashed when Sen. Mitt Romney voted in favor of conviction on the abuse of power charge, but the Utah senator toed the party line on obstruction of Congress in a second vote.All of the Senate's 45 Democrats and two Independents voted to convict the president on both charges.Romney earlier Wednesday announced his vote, saying Trump is "guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.""My promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience," Romney told the Senate."Corrupting an election to keep one's self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive of one's oath of office that I can imagine," he added.An oftentimes critic of the president, Romney had been eyed as the Republican senator most likely to break ranks with his party and support Trump's removal from office. But given the two-thirds majority needed for that to happen, Democrats were certain to fail to gain the necessary support from across the aisle.Both of the charges stem from Trump's repeated efforts to have Ukraine publicly announce criminal investigations into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his subsequent refusal to participate in the House's investigation of the matter.Conviction on either charge would have resulted in Trump's removal from office.Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to face a Senate impeachment trial. He along with Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were all acquitted of wrongdoing.Shortly after his acquittal, Trump took to Twitter, posting a video of himself at the end of a series of election signs that gradually increased in election year increments as music built in tempo until the camera focused in on Trump standing above a sign that eventually read: "Trump 4EVA."
Macron called 'president of the rich' in new study
A study out Wednesday from the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE) concurred with the viewpoint of many who hold an unfavorable opinion of the current president: He is a "president of the rich".The report by the think tank pointed out those who have gained and those who have not from Emmanuel Macron's tax and economic policies introduced in the past three years: 70% of households have benefited, but with the advantage going to those more fortunate over those at the bottom of the economic ladder.From the start of his presidency, Macron laid out a very detailed plan, nicknamed the "Macronomy," which addressed economic, housing, employment and agriculture issues. He was elected on May 7, 2017 at the age of 39 and following his term as France's economy minister.At the top of his agenda was unemployment benefit reform and tackling unemployment (the rate when Macron took office was 10.1%), the reduction in income tax and lower corporate taxes -- from 33% to 25%.Bold moves all, but three years later, Mathieu Plane, an OFCE economist and an author of the report, pointed to the resulting polarization."The losers in the government's economic policy are among the poorest, the unemployed, and the retired."The OFCE estimated that 5% of the French population will see their standard of living reduced by 240 euros per month while the wealthiest 5% will see theirs increase by 2,905 euros.The redistribution in the first three budgets adds to the argument."Of the 17 billion euros distributed to households since the start of the five-year period, more than a quarter (approximately 4.5 billion euros) went to support the disposable income of the 5% of the wealthiest households."For 2020, the budget aims to abolish the last third of the housing tax for 80% of households; offer a tax exemption for overtime; and reduce income tax by 5 billion euros, all smart monetary policy for the former banker and ENS graduate.But Plane emphasized that although attempting to help support the purchasing power of the lower and middle classes, the redistribution is not enough to offset the effects of the capital tax reform -- abolition of the solidarity tax on wealth and entry into force of the flat tax, introduced in 2018.The OFCE report also acknowledged the private sector benefiting over the public."Out of the 17 billion euros of disposable income distributed to households since the start of the five-year period, more than 12 billion euros have been paid to employed single persons or to couples with two employed persons."
He hailed the plan as an opportunity for Palestinians.
O'Brien also touted the response from some Arab countries in the wake of the announcement of the plan.
"We have been encouraged by the reaction of Arab governments, very positive reactions from Saudis, the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and Egypt," he added.
Incumbent Turkish Cypriot president to seek re-election
The current president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) announced Wednesday that he will contest the 2020 presidential election to be held on April 26.Mustafa Akinci told reporters in the capital Lefkosa that he will run as an independent candidate.The 72-year-old leader said the most reasonable solution to the decade-long divided Mediterranean island was a bi-communal, bipartite federation.The best solution to the Cyprus issue “is a solution…based on political equality, where both sides will take part in the decisions and the rotating presidency will take place,” he added.Akinci was elected as the fourth president of the TRNC in April 2015.Born in 1947 in Limassol, a city on the southern coast of Greek-administered Cyprus, Akinci is an architecture graduate from one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities, the Middle East Technical University. He was part of the “constituent assembly” in Northern Cyprus established in 1975.Akinci was the mayor of Lefkosa for 14 years between 1976 and 1990.He was the leader of the Communal Liberation Party between 1987 and 2001 and was a lawmaker for parliament between 1993 and 2009.The Turkish Cypriot leader was deputy premier and minister of tourism between 1999 and 2001.Apart from Akinci, four politicians have announced their candidacy so far: Prime Minister Ersin Tatar from the National Unity Party, Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay as an independent candidate, main opposition Republican Turkish Party leader Tufan Erhurman and the leader of the Rebirth Party, Erhan Arikli.Turkish Cypriots will go to the polls for the 10th time since 1974 to elect a president.In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all failing.The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and the U.K. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
Plane skids off runway at airport in Istanbul, Turkey
A passenger plane skidded off the runway at an airport in Istanbul on Wednesday, killing three people and injuring 180 others, officials said.Pegasus Airlines flight PC2193 was arriving from Turkey's Aegean province of Izmir at Sabiha Gokcen International Airport when it skidded off the runway while landing, said Turkey’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan.Three people died among the 177 passengers and six crew members, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.Television footage showed the nose of the plane almost completely separated from the rest of the fuselage, which burst into flames following the crash."According to the information we obtained, after the hard landing, the plane drifted," said Turhan.Video: Plane skids off runway in airport in Istanbul, TurkeySome 180 people were injured, including 174 passengers and six crew members, said Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya.According to the airline company, 22 foreign passengers from 12 countries were on board, Yerlikaya added.After skidding off the runway, the plane drifted around 50 meters (164 feet), Yerlikaya said."Then it fell from a height of around 30 meters [98 feet] here, where there is a connection road from the TEM highway to the E-5 highway."Prosecutors in the capital Ankara launched an investigation into the incident.The airport, which was closed after the accident, was reopened for flights.Video: Plane skids off runway in airport in Istanbul, Turkey
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to address the UN Security Council on Feb. 11 -- a meeting that was announced after Trump released the peace plan, which Palestinians say is biased in Israel’s favor and all but dashes their hopes of ever running a country.
Trump released the plan last week during a White House press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but with no Palestinian envoy in the room.
The plan refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank. Palestinians were offered a route to running a series of territories connected by roads and a tunnel.
Turkey slams European Parliament over PKK event
Turkey condemned the European Parliament on Wednesday for holding an event attended by some of the ringleaders of the PKK terror group and its supporters.Turkey strongly condemned the "unofficial event, which also ignores the principle of fighting terrorist organizations without discrimination," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.In the scandalous event organized by the European Parliament, terrorist propaganda was spread by ringleaders of the PKK terror group and its supporters and heinous threats were made against Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the statement said.Allowing some of the terrorist organization’s ringleaders -- who are also on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations -- to participate in an event in the European Parliament and spread terrorist propaganda means openly supporting terrorism, it added."We invite EU institutions and EU member states to stand firm against terrorist organizations and no longer take terrorists under its wing," it said.Meanwhile, Turkey's presidential spokesman said early Thursday on Twitter that “it is an embarrassing scandal that a blind eye was turned to the open spreading of terrorist propaganda and Turkey and President Erdogan were insulted at a conference organized by the European Parliament.” By "opening its doors to the PKK, which the European Union has recognized as a terrorist organization, the European Parliament openly supports terrorism and commits an offense," Kalin underlined."We strongly condemn this scandal. Those who ensure that blood-shedding terrorists hold talks under the roof of the European Parliament became part of the offence" he added.The conference, titled "The European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds," was held by the European Parliament in Brussels. Some ringleaders of the terrorist organization in Europe -- Adem Uzun, Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar, who are in the red category of Turkey’s wanted terrorist list -- attended the conference.In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.