US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned to the Middle East yesterday in a bid to breathe new air into the sluggish peace process ahead of a visit by US President George W. Bush.
On her 15th visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in under two years, Rice was expected to push the sides to stick to their goal of clinching a peace deal by the end of this year.
The talks will be held alongside Egyptian-led efforts to broker a truce between Israel and Gaza militants that would ease an Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, which has been sidelined in the current peace talks.
The top US diplomat was to dine with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem upon her arrival in Israel yesterday evening and meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah today.
She will then host a three-way meeting with top peace negotiators Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei, who have been holding closed-door talks for several months.
“Israelis have waited too long for the security they desire and they deserve. Palestinians quite frankly have waited too long for the dignity of an independent state,” Rice said in Washington on Tuesday.
She said that the US “unwavering” support for Israel should give it the courage to make “difficult and painful compromises.”
A senior Israeli official said that Rice might seek a public Israeli-Palestinian document outlining the progress made so far in their peace talks.
“But there is little chance of seeing such a document since both sides wish to keep the talks secret until an agreement is reached on all issues,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Efforts to advance the peace talks have been mired by violence in Gaza and Israel’s continued settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Palestinians wish to make the capital of their future state.
The Mideast Quartet on Friday called on Israel to halt all settlement expansion, a measure to which it committed itself under the 2003 roadmap peace blueprint.
Bush, who hosted a conference that formally restarted Middle East peace negotiations in November after a seven-year freeze, will visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt from May 13 to May 18.
Last week, he said that achieving peace was an uphill task, but was confident a deal could be clinched before his term ends.
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including
Female flight attendants working for Japan Airlines would next month be allowed to wear trousers and abandon high heels, the company said on Thursday, after a feminist campaign took off. The airline became one of the first major Japanese firms to announce the shift after a campaign known as #KuToo last year rejected mandatory high heels at work, drawing more than 32,000 signatures in an online petition. The campaign is part of a wider feminism movement in Japan, with Japan Airlines saying that the new policy was aimed at boosting a “diverse working environment.” PANTS PERMIT “This will be the first time to introduce
TARGETED: Although hackers are known to be seeking to capitalize on concern over COVID-19, a cybersecurity expert said he had never seen anything to this extent before Elite hackers tried to break into the WHO earlier this month, sources said, part of what a senior agency official said was a more than two-fold increase in cyberattacks. The identity of the hackers was unclear and the effort was unsuccessful, WHO Chief Information Security Officer Flavio Aggio said. However, he warned that hacking attempts against the agency and its partners have soared as they battle to contain COVID-19, which has killed more than 15,000 worldwide. The attempted break-in at the WHO was first flagged to Reuters by Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert and attorney with the New York-based Blackstone Law Group,