Arab diplomats secretly met with Israelis as Europe sponsors Hamas and Israel secret talks and UN exploring new peace effort but Netanyahu will have the final say

هنية: انفراج في العلاقة مع السعودية بعد اتصال سلمان بمشعل

Haniyeh: a breakthrough in the relationship with Saudi Arabia 

Report: Hamas and Israel holding secret talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — Jordanian newspaper ad-Dustour reported Tuesday that Hamas and Israel have been involved in secret talks in Israel and European capitals in recent months. The newspaper quoted “western sources” as saying that among the most prominent issues being negotiated was the establishment of a “floating seaport” located between the Gaza Strip and Cyprus.  The report said that both sides are also negotiating a deal to return the body of an Ethiopian Israeli soldier in exchange for Hamas-affiliated prisoners in Israeli custody.

The report claimed that “negotiations have reached deeper issues such as borders.” Israel has reportedly offered to enlarge the Gaza Strip into Egypt’s northern Sinai peninsula, an idea which Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was in the past reported as proposing to the Palestinian Authority.

The report suggested that the talks may have taken place under Turkish supervision. In April, senior Hamas official Ahmad Yousef denied that there had been any direct talks between Hamas and Israel, but acknowledged that there had been indirect “chats” with Israel under European mediation.

Report: Arab diplomats secretly met with Israelis in Jordan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 May — A secret meeting between Israeli diplomats and diplomats from Arab countries that do not have open diplomatic relations with Israel was recently held in Jordan, Israeli radio station Voice of Israel reported Tuesday. The broadcasting station added in a report on their Arabic-language website that representatives of the European Union and the United States had also attended the meeting. The report alleged that several Arab diplomats said that countries in the region should be preparing for a new reality as the United States’ influence on regional security begins to retreat. They also were quoted as saying that Sunni countries in the Middle East are interested in cooperating with Israel on security issues. However, Voice of Israel added that political deadlock between Israel and Palestine has so far prevented cooperation between Arab countries and Israel. In recent months, commentators have noted an increasing alignment between Israeli and Gulf security priorities.

UN to explore new Mideast peace effort with Israel

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 19 May — The United Nations will explore options with Israel’s new government for a return to negotiations on creating a Palestinian state within a reasonable timeframe, the new envoy said Tuesday. Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special Middle East coordinator, told the Security Council that “the coming period will be critical to the future of the peace process.” Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been comatose since a major US push for a final deal ended in failure in April 2014.

Europe wants central role in Middle East peace, Mogherini says

BRUSSELS (Reuters) 18 May by Robin Emmott – The European Union wants a more active role in seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday on the eve of her first visit to the region. Six months into her tenure, the 41-year-old former Italian foreign minister is eager to leverage Europe’s position as Israel’s biggest trade partner and as the Palestinians’ main aid donor after last year’s failure by the United States to make progress in the latest efforts to broker a two-state peace deal. “My very early visit has a political meaning,” Mogherini told a news conference following an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels where she discussed the Middle East … Some EU diplomats believe Mogherini, who meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday and Thursday, sees a chance for EU diplomacy in the absence of a major new push from Washington as President Barack Obama approaches his final 18 months in office.

Netanyahu retains final say on Palestinian peace portfolio

JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 May — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have the final say in future peace talks with the Palestinians, an official said Tuesday, after Interior Minister Silvan Shalom was entrusted to oversee negotiations. “The prime minister is responsible for the negotiations. Silvan Shalom will be holding the meetings with the Palestinians along with Yitzhak Molcho, the personal envoy of the premier,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. On Monday, Netanyahu announced he had c

harged Shalom, a veteran member of his rightwing Likud party, with conducting peace talks with the Palestinians.

Vatican: Pope Francis meant no offense calling Abbas ‘angel of peace’

Reuters 19 May — Pope Francis meant no offense to Israel by referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as being “an angel of peace” and intended to encourage harmony between the two sides, the Vatican said on Tuesday. Francis met Abbas at the Vatican on Saturday and used the words as he presented the Palestinian president with a large bronze medallion representing the angel of peace, one of his customary gifts to visiting presidents.

Receiving Abbas at the papal apartments, the Argentine pontiff, speaking in Italian, said the medallion was an appropriate gift because “you are a bit an angel of peace”, according to a reporter representing several news agencies at the meeting … Early reports had conflicted as to whether the pope urged Abbas to be an “angel of peace” or if he had described him as such.,7340,L-4659307,00.html

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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