Haaretz Reports Trump peace plan will not include settlement evacuation

Based on Israeli sources, the report said that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to propose the Palestinians declare independence, after which the United States will recognize the Palestinian state. The Palestinians will also receive hundreds of millions of dollars from Sunni Arab countries as aid.

In addition, the United States is expected to adopt the principle of land swaps, but not necessarily according to the 1967 lines, said the report. The proposal will also meet most of Israel’s security demands. At this stage, no Jews or Arabs will be evacuated from their homes, and the issue of Jerusalem is not yet on the agenda. The question of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will also be postponed.

Report: Trump peace plan will not include settlement evacuation – Israel News – Haaretz.com



Saad Hariri plans France trip after resigning as Lebanon’s prime minister in Saudi Arabia

His resignation — which he blamed on pressure from Iran and its Lebanese Shiite proxy, Hezbollah — stunned Lebanon and the wider region and raised fears the country would plunge again into factional turmoil.

But Lebanese officials had said Hariri, who is a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, had been forced to resign by Saudi authorities and was unable to move or speak freely from Riyadh. Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, said Wednesday that Hariri was a “hostage,” and that his government would not accept such an “attack on Lebanese sovereignty.”

…But as Shiite Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni, have competed for influence in the region, the threat of upheaval in Lebanon intensified. Iran has long backed Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful political and military movement, and which is key to Iranian regional reach.

…For its part, Riyadh has sought to bolster Hariri and his Sunni bloc in Lebanon, and have fought what Saudi officials claim are Iranian proxy forces in Yemen. Iran denies having direct links to the Houthi forces in Yemen that drove out the Saudi-backed president in 2015.

Saad Hariri plans France trip after resigning as Lebanon’s prime minister in Saudi Arabia – The Washington Post


U.N. warns millions at risk in Yemen, urges Saudi coalition to open ports

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi movement said last week it had closed all air, land and seaports in Yemen to stem what it said was the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

“We have some 21 million people needing assistance and seven million of those are in famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said.

“The continued closure by the Saudi-led coalition of critical seaports and airports is aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation. I think it poses a critical threat to the lives of millions who are already struggling to survive.”

U.N. warns millions at risk in Yemen, urges Saudi coalition to open ports

Scores more Saudis detained in $100 billion corruption sweep


Saudi critics and experts have called the unprecedented purge of top princes and businessmen a bold and risky move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at consolidating power as he keeps an eye on the throne, sidelining potential rivals and dismantling alliances built with other branches of the royal family.

…Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said 208 people had been called in for questioning, and that seven were released without charge, leaving 201 in custody.

…The stunning purge began overnight Saturday, initially catching 11 princes and 38 officials, military officers and business leaders. They are being held at five-star hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.

…An estimated 1,700 individual bank accounts have been frozen.

…Based on investigations in the past three years, at least $100 billion has been misused through corruption and embezzlement.

…The government stressed that only personal accounts have been frozen, leaving businesses untouched.

Scores more Saudis detained in $100 billion corruption sweep – The Washington Post


Shifting sands: What is changing in Saudi Arabia?

Prince Mohammed launched a military campaign in neighboring Yemen in March 2015. A Saudi-led coalition, acting on an invitation from the internationally-recognized government, has targeted the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in a war which has killed more than 10,000 people. 

…Even before the conflict, Yemen was the poorest country on the Arabian peninsula and now millions of people there are facing famine and a cholera epidemic. The coalition denies it blocks commercial shipments of food, medicine and fuel.

…Prince Mohammed has helped lead a diplomatic campaign to isolate Qatar, saying Riyadh’s erstwhile ally backs terrorism and cozies up to Iran. Qatar rejects the accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbors’ backing for authoritarian rulers.

…Qatar had incensed Riyadh by cheering Arab Spring uprisings against some autocratic Arab rulers.

…Prince Mohammed has also opened a new front in the proxy war with Iran by threatening Tehran’s ally Hezbollah and its home country Lebanon.

…Vision 2030 has begun to reduce a big state budget deficit with austerity measures but has not yet created major new sources of non-oil growth or jobs.

…Saudi Arabia adheres to an austere Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam, which bans gender mixing, concerts and cinemas.

Prince Mohammed’s ascent represents a social and cultural sea change, with power set to be passed to a much younger generation seemingly more in tune with young Saudis. In moves that reinforce that perception, women will be permitted to drive from next year and allowed to attend sports events.

The crown prince has also said the country will move to a more open and tolerant interpretation of Islam [apart from any Shiites associated with Iran, apparently…], and reforms have begun in areas once the exclusive domain of the clergy such as education, courts and the law. Saudi authorities have promoted elements of national identity that have no religious component or pre-date Islam.

Shifting sands: What is changing in Saudi Arabia?