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Daily Brief: Israeli, Palestinian Representatives Absent at Paris Talks

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June 3, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Israeli, Palestinian Representatives Absent at Paris Talks

Foreign ministers from twenty-nine countries gathered in Paris to discuss stalled Middle East peace negotiations. Israeli and Palestinian representatives were absent from the summit, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and representatives from the Arab League and European Union will discuss setting a date for an international peace conference (Middle East Eye). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed (Haaretz) the French initiative and said he only supports direct negotiations between the parties (AP), while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he welcomed the efforts. Diplomatic sources said (AFP) the talks would focus on reviving a 2002 Saudi-led peace deal that would have Arab nations recognize the state of Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied since 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state.


"While Kerry agreed to attend, the United States has expressed ambivalence about the French initiative, saying without the will of the two parties, the peace process won’t succeed. France, for its part, said it was well aware of the difficulties, but something must be done to break the deadlock and get the parties back to the table," Laura Rozen writes for Al-Monitor.

"The French Initiative is the flicker of hope Palestine has been waiting for and we are confident that it will provide a clear framework with defined parameters for the resumption of negotiations. The international conference should be viewed as an opportunity to create a negotiating environment in which power is equalized and law and human rights prevail. The conference should not concern itself with how to grant impunity for Israeli violations but rather, with how to respect and uphold the principles of the UN Charter and of peace-loving, law abiding nations," Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat writes for Haaretz.

"Like everyone else, Israelis place a premium on their security and their prevailing narrative is: 'There was a peace process and they blew up our buses, we withdrew from Gaza and got rockets, and now our people are being stabbed randomly.' All of this is true, albeit stripped of all the complexities and physical consequences of the continued occupation and settlement of the West Bank as well as the blockade (in collaboration with Egypt) of the Gaza Strip. This has produced what seems like a structural shift in the Israeli electorate to the right, which in turn has resulted in a government whose ministers have no interest in a two-state solution. There are many Israelis who are unapologetic about these developments, but then they surely must recognize that they are not the only ones who can legitimately claim that they have no partners for peace," writes CFR's Steven A. Cook in this blog post.

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U.S. Steel to Push China Import Ban

The United States gave a green light to the country's largest steel producer to seek a ban on imported Chinese steel following a complaint it filed under the U.S. Section 337 law, which allows for sanctions as a rebuke for intellectual property theft (FT). U.S. Steel alleges that four dozen Chinese companies benefited from cyber theft of industry secrets.  

SOUTH KOREA: U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said "plans are moving forward" for the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to South Korea to deter threats from North Korea (Korea Times). Carter will meet his South Korean counterpart on the sidelines of an Asian security summit opening today in Singapore.


Karzai: U.S. Drone Strike on Taliban Leader Hurt Peace Process

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that a U.S. drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in Pakistan's Balochistan province in May "hurt the peace process" being negotiated with the militant group (RFE/RL).

BANGLADESH: The government began its first census of Rohingya refugees, spurring fears that Bangladesh may plan to forcibly relocate the ethnic minority to neighboring Myanmar (NYT). The Muslim Rohingya have been described by the United Nations as the world's most persecuted minority.


National Press Club Hosts Event With Senior Syrian Regime Official

A top political advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Bouthaina Shaaban, addressed Washington's National Press Club by Skype in a rare appearance of a regime representative before a U.S. audience (WSJ). She said the United States should "join hands" with Russia in supporting the Syrian regime in order to fight terrorism.


Angolan Leader Appoints Daughter to Head State Oil Company

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in power since 1979, sacked the entire board of state-owned oil company Sonangol and appointed his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, as chairperson (East African).

CFR's John Campbell discusses the attacks on Nigeria's oil industry that have led to Angola becoming the continent's largest producer in this blog post.

DRC: The Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to recognize the former rebel group known as M23 as a political party (Africa News). M23 took up arms in the country in 2012 and was defeated by the Congolese military and a UN brigade.  

This CFR InfoGuide looks at conflict in the eastern Congo.


Greek Court Halts Deportations of Migrants to 'Unsafe' Turkey

A Greek appeals committee halted the deportation of nine Syrian migrants, ruling that Turkey was unsafe for them (EU Observer). Sending asylum seekers who arrive irregularly on Greek shores back to Turkey is a central provision of a March EU-Turkish migration deal.

This CFR Backgrounder examines Europe's migrant crisis.

TURKEY: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, to open a new embassy on Friday, on the final leg of an African tour that also included visits to Uganda and Kenya (Anadolu). The visit was seen as a move to promote commercial interests, the expansion of the partially state-owned Turkish Airlines across the continent, and to counter a rival imam (FT) who runs a popular group of schools across Africa.


Trudeau Government 'Closely' Watching Saudi-Yemen Arms Transfers

An advisor to Canada's foreign minister said the government was "very concerned" with events in Yemen following reports that Canadian military equipment sold to Saudi Arabia may be transferred to Yemeni forces (Globe and Mail). Such a transfer could jeopardize a proposed $15 billion Canadian arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

BRAZIL: Brazil's Supreme Court will rule in the coming days on whether to accelerate an impeachment trial for suspended President Dilma Rousseff (LAHT). Opposition senators proposed trying her by mid-July rather than early August.


Clinton: Electing Trump Would Be 'Historic Mistake'

In a major foreign policy speech (Time), Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump was "unprepared" and "temperamentally unfit" for the presidency.

Track and compare the candidates' foreign policy and national security positions with CFR's interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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