ANKARA, Turkey – Protesters have attacked the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party during the funeral of a soldier who was slain during clashes with Kurdish rebels.
Television footage on Sunday showed some protesters hitting Kemal Kilicdaroglu on the head as security officials tried to escort him away from the crowd.
The attack comes weeks after Kilicdaroglu’s pro-secular Republican People’s Party took control of the key cities of Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey’s March 31 local election away from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party.
Erdogan had led a highly divisive electoral campaign, portraying the elections as a matter of national survival and equating opposition parties with terrorists.
The soldier was among four killed Saturday in a clash against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party rebels near Turkey’s border with Iraq.
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JUBA, South Sudan – South Sudan’s opposition is calling for a six-month extension to implement next steps in a fragile peace deal as a major deadline approaches next month to form a power-sharing government between the president and his longtime rival.
Opposition deputy chairman Henry Odwar told The Associated Press on Saturday that the extension is needed because security arrangements are not yet adequate.
South Sudan’s government rejects the idea of an extension, further raising concerns among observers that the peace agreement signed in September could fall apart. The deal ended five years of civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and sent millions fleeing.
There could be a “constitutional vacuum” if opposition leader Riek Machar does not return to South Sudan as scheduled to form the transitional government that is meant to culminate in elections, government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.
May 12 is the deadline for Machar to return and once again serve as President Salva Kiir’s deputy, an arrangement that more than once has ended in gunfire. In a striking gesture meant to urge the rivals to finally make peace, Pope Francis knelt and kissed their feet during a meeting at the Vatican earlier this month.
The opposition has expressed “serious concerns” about the agreement. It would be a “recipe for disaster” if Machar returns without security measures in place, his wife, Angelina Teny, has said.
The committee charged with overseeing the peace deal’s initial stages will consider the six-month extension request on Wednesday, according to the opposition. The committee is made up of members of the government and various opposition parties.
This latest peace deal has been marked by delays and continued fighting in parts of the country, with key aspects yet to be implemented. South Sudan’s internal boundaries have not yet been drawn. A unified national army has not been formed.
Alan Boswell, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, warned that the deal would “look very flimsy if Kiir unilaterally forms a new government without Machar.”
South Sudanese are already wary of possible violence next month, said a recent report by the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a local advocacy group. Without clear messaging from the parties’ leaders the risk of citizens “panicking is high,” it said.
Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
Source: Fox News World
CAIRO – Egyptian pro-government media are urging a “Yes” vote on the second day of a nationwide referendum that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.
Polls reopened at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Sunday. Voting will continue through Monday to allow maximum turnout, which the government hopes will lend the referendum legitimacy.
Election officials say results are expected within a week.
Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the changes, blasted by critics as a major step back to authoritarianism.
Voting comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since the 2013 military ouster of an elected but divisive president.
El-Sissi came to power in 2014 and was re-elected for a second four-year term last year.
Trucks with loudspeakers drove around central Cairo Sunday morning urging high turnout.
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JERUSALEM – Is the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dead?
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coasted to another victory in this month’s Israeli election, it sure seems that way.
On the campaign trail, Netanyahu ruled out Palestinian statehood and for the first time, pledged to begin annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank. His expected coalition partners, a collection of religious and nationalist parties, also reject Palestinian independence.
Even his chief rivals, led by a trio of respected former military chiefs and a charismatic former TV anchorman, barely mentioned the Palestinian issue on the campaign trail and presented a vision of “separation” that falls far short of Palestinian territorial demands.
The two Jewish parties that dared to talk openly about peace with the Palestinians captured just 10 seats in the 120-seat parliament, and opinion polls indicate dwindling support for a two-state solution among Jewish Israelis.
“The majority of the people in the state of Israel no longer see a two-state solution as an option,” said Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy for the Yesha settler council, himself an opponent of Palestinian independence. “If we are looking for peace in this region, we will have to look for a different plan from the two-state solution.”
For the past 25 years, the international community has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — as the best way to ensure peace in the region.
The logic is clear. With the number of Arabs living on lands controlled by Israel roughly equal to Jews, and the Arab population growing faster, two-state proponents say a partition of the land is the only way to guarantee Israel’s future as a democracy with a strong Jewish majority. The alternative, they say, is either a binational state in which a democratic Israel loses its Jewish character or an apartheid-like entity in which Jews have more rights than Arabs.
After decades of fruitless negotiations, each side blames the other for failure.
Israel says the Palestinians have rejected generous peace offers and promoted violence and incitement. The Palestinians say the Israeli offers have not been serious and point to Israel’s ever-expanding settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, now home to nearly 700,000 Israelis.
The ground further shifted after the Hamas militant group took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and left the Palestinians divided between two governments, with one side — Hamas — opposed to peace with Israel. This ongoing rift is a major obstacle to negotiations with Israel, and has also left many Palestinians disillusioned with their leaders.
Since taking office a decade ago, Netanyahu has largely ignored the Palestinian issue, managing the conflict without offering a solution for how two peoples will live together in the future.
After clashing with the international community for most of that time, he has found a welcome friend in President Donald Trump, whose Mideast team has shown no indication of supporting Palestinian independence.
Tamar Hermann, an expert on Israeli public opinion at the Israel Democracy Institute, said the election results do not necessarily mean that Israelis have given up on peace. Instead, she said the issue just isn’t on people’s minds.
“Most Israelis would say the status quo is preferable to all other options, because Israelis do not pay any price for it,” she said. “They don’t feel the outcome of the occupation. … Why change it?”
While the two-state prospects seem dim, its proponents still cling to the belief that the sides will ultimately come around, simply because there is no better choice.
“Either Israel decides to be an apartheid state with a minority that is governing a majority of Palestinians, or Israel has to realize that there is no other solution but two states,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told The Associated Press. “Unfortunately the Israeli prime minister is politically blind about these two facts.”
Shtayyeh noted the two-state solution continues to enjoy wide international backing. Peace, he insisted, is just a matter of “will” by Israel’s leaders.
Dan Shapiro, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, said the two-state solution “is certainly getting harder” after the Israeli election but is not dead.
Getting there would require leadership changes on both sides, he said, pointing to the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt 40 years ago, reached by two leaders who were sworn enemies just two years earlier.
“We know what’s possible when the right leadership is in place,” he said. “So that puts us supporters of it in a mode of trying to keep it alive and viable for the future.”
That may be a tall task as the Israeli election results appear to reflect a deeper shift in public opinion.
According to the Israel Democracy Institute, which conducts monthly surveys of public opinion, support for the two-state solution among Jewish Israelis has plummeted from 69% in 2008, the year before Netanyahu took office, to 47% last year. Just 32% of Israelis between the ages of 18-34 supported a two-state solution in 2018. The institute typically surveys 600 people, with a margin of error of just over 4 percentage points.
Attitudes are changing on the Palestinian side as well. Khalil Shikaki, a prominent Palestinian pollster, said 31% of Palestinians seek a single binational state with full equality, a slight increase from a decade ago. His poll surveyed 1,200 people and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Although there was no breakdown by age group, Shikaki said the young are “clinging less to the two-state solution because they lost faith in the Palestinian Authority’s ability to provide a democratic state” and because the expanding settlements have created a new reality on the ground.
Amr Marouf, a 27-year-old restaurant manager in the city of Ramallah, said he maintains his official residence in a village located in the 60% of the West Bank that Israel controls, just in case Israel annexes the territory. That way, he believes, he can gain Israeli citizenship.
“I think the one state solution is the only viable solution,” he said. “We can be in Israel and ask for equal rights. Otherwise, we will live under military occupation forever.”
Netanyahu is expected to form his new coalition government by the end of May, and he will come under heavy pressure from his partners to keep his promise to annex Israel’s West Bank settlements.
Such a step could extinguish any hopes of establishing a viable Palestinian state, particularly if the U.S. supports it. American officials, who have repeatedly sided with Israel, have said nothing against Netanyahu’s plan.
There is also the Trump administration’s long-delayed peace plan, which officials have signaled could finally be released this summer. U.S. officials have said little about the plan, but have indicated it will go heavy on economic assistance to the Palestinians while falling far short of an independent state along the 1967 lines.
Shtayyeh said such a plan would be a nonstarter.
“This is a financial blackmail, which we reject,” he said.
Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.
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KHARTOUM, Sudan – A leading organizer says Sudan’s protest movement hopes to “exert more pressure” on the ruling military by announcing the composition of a civilian transitional council Sunday.
Mohammed al-Asam of the Sudanese Professionals Association tells The Associated Press that “we are ready with a clear plan for a transition with qualified names.”
The association drove four months of protests that led to the ouster and arrest of Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir earlier this month. Al-Bashir was replaced by a military council. Protesters demand a speedy transition to civilian rule.
Al-Asam, a 28-year-old doctor, said in an interview late Saturday that the military council is becoming more powerful every day and that “this is dangerous to the revolution.”
He says protesters also demand the arrests of additional members of the al-Bashir regime.
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DAKAR, Senegal – The United Nations secretary-general has condemned an attack on a U.N. convoy in Mali that killed a peacekeeper from Egypt.
A statement by the spokesman for Antonio Guterres says four other peacekeepers were wounded in the Saturday morning attack between Douentza and Boni in the central Mopti region.
The statement says peacekeepers responded by killing one attacker and detaining eight others.
The peacekeeping mission in the West African nation is the deadliest active U.N. mission in the world, with 195 deaths as of the end of March.
The mission established in 2013 is under threat from extremist groups in Mali’s vast, arid north that have begun moving south into more populated areas.
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SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni officials say heavy fighting in Yemen’s southern Dhale province between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels has killed more than 85 people.
The officials say the Houthi rebels recaptured the district of Damt and the surrounding area from forces allied with the internationally recognized government after more than a week of fighting. They say dozens have been wounded.
Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war pitting the Iran-backed Houthis against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015.
The war has devastated impoverished Yemen, turning the Arab nation into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The officials spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.
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Now that Benjamin Netanyahu is set to serve a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, he could extend Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank — something he promised to do if re-elected. The move would put an end to decades of Israel’s policy recognizing that the lands it seized in the Six-Day War in 1967 would be part of a negotiated settlement with Palestinians.
Netanyahu made the promise during the final stretch of his election campaign, as he competed for votes with right-wing parties that support annexing part of the West Bank.
David Ha’ivri is a Jewish resident of Kfar Tapuach, an Israeli settlement in Samaria, which is located in the area also known as the West Bank. Ha’ivri said he was “very happy” that Netanyahu is heading toward a record fifth term in office, especially because in interviews in the days before the election, Netanyahu vowed to begin annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank if re-elected.
According to The Times of Israel, Netanyahu’s pledge came a day after he said on Israel’s Channel 13 news that he told President Trump that he would not evacuate “a single person” from any of the settlements.
If Netanyahu follows through on the promise, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially destroy the already diminishing hope for Palestinian statehood.
Ahmed Majdalani, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians will seek the help of the international community to try to block plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
The West Bank is currently home to about 2.8 million Palestinian Arabs and 400,000 Jewish residents in 127 communities commonly referred to as settlements. Israel took control of the land in 1967 and allowed Jewish settlers to move in, but Palestinians consider the West Bank illegally occupied Palestinian land.
Ha’ivri and his wife have lived in the Israeli settlement Kfar Tapuach for nearly three decades and raised their eight children there. Neither he nor the 220 Jewish families in the village are welcome in the Palestinian controlled communities, including the one that is a short walk from his home called Yasuf. The entrance to the Arab village, which is under complete control of the Palestinian Authority, has a sign that reads, “This Road Leads to Palestinian Village The Entrance For Israeli Citizens Is Dangerous.”
“It’s very unfortunate that there are people who don’t want us to live here. This is our home, this is our homeland. This is where the Jewish people need to be,” said Ha’ivri.
He thinks it’s important to live in the place where his ancestors have lived continuously for thousands of years. It is a feeling shared by many other Jewish people in Samaria including Eliyahu Hillel who owns Kabir Winery in Elon Moreh, an Orthodox Jewish Israeli settlement.
“I’m living in the Bible. For me, the Bible is not history. It’s actuality, it’s present,” said Hillel, whose primary language is Hebrew.
He has lived in Elon Moreh for 35 years and raised his six kids in the Israeli settlement.
Hillel said he doesn’t mind having Palestinians as neighbors.
“It’s not dangerous here. It’s really, really paradise here,” said Hillel.
When asked if he ever feels like his family is in danger he answered, “Not very, not very.”
In addition to the wineries, there are many factories in Samaria. Israelis are not permitted to work in Palestinian controlled territories but, according to local officials, most of the factory workers are Palestinian at the three industrial parks in Israeli-controlled Samaria.
“This (is an) injection molding factory named ‘Twitoplast,’ we do all the product(s) for the air condition business,” said Moshe Lev-ran, Twitoplast’s Export Manager, as he described the factory which is in an industrial zone in Samaria called Barkan. He said the factory has about 150 employees and half are Palestinian.
When a Palestinian employee was asked if he likes working at Twitoplast he said “yes,” adding that he doesn’t mind working with Jewish people. The employee doesn’t speak English and when asked in Hebrew if there are any problems he answered, “I am supposed to bring food for my kids, what am I supposed to do?”
Sofian Dagger, the plant manager, is also Palestinian. He has been working at Twitoplast for 20 years. He also does not speak English and when asked in Hebrew how it is for him to work in a factory with Jewish people and Arabs together he said, “We work together, it’s fine.”
When asked if he ever encounters any problems working for an Israeli company he said in Hebrew, “None at all. All my brothers, I have seven brothers, they all work for Jewish people.”
Dagger says he chose to work at Twitoplast because “the money is good,” adding that the salary is better than any other place in the area. Dagger said that his son also works at the factory for the same reason.
According to Lev-ran, Twitoplast employees earn about 15-hundred dollars a month, which is more than double the wages of those employed in the Palestinian Authority, or PA governed areas. Palestinian employees at the factory also get benefits like social security, which Lev-ran said, they wouldn’t receive if they worked in areas governed by the PA.
Since Israelis and Palestinians work well together at Twitoplast, Dagger wonders why there can’t be peace everywhere.
“I am asking everyone that there will be peace for everyone in the whole world. Not just in Israel, not just in Palestine, not just in America. We need peace, for the sake of the children. It’s a shame to have wars, it’s a shame,” said Dagger.
When asked if he thinks peace can be achieved he said, “Why not? It can happen.”
Lev-ran said he hopes Twitoplast proves that Palestinians and Israelis can coexist. He thinks peace will come when Palestinians prosper.
“A Palestinian that wake(s up) at 4 o’clock in the morning to come to work. He think(s) only one thing, how to bring food to his kids, that’s what he think(s). He doesn’t think how to kill me,” said Lev-ran. “So they ask me if I’m not worried when I come here to work. I’m not worried at all, we don’t carry weapons here. I’m more worried in my Kibbutz (a communal settlement in Israel), which is near Gaza that I have 30 seconds to run to the shelter house when they shoot me a rocket, the Hamas. But if I provide the people in Gaza Strip work, they will fight against the Hamas and nobody will shoot me a rocket.”
When asked what he thinks about a company like Twitoplast, where Palestinians and Israelis work together, Ha’ivri answered, “I think that that is wonderful and I think that many people outside of this area are not aware of those facts on the ground.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. The video for this story was shot and edited by Talia Kaplan. Lexi Baker contributed to the filming of this piece. Stock footage provided by Pond5 and Shutterstock. Song: “The Legitimates” by Lionel Cohen.
Source: Fox News World
KHARTOUM, Sudan – A Sudanese activist says leaders of the protest movement are holding talks with the military council.
Ahmed Rabie, a leader at the Sudanese Professionals Association which is behind the protests, tells The Associated Press that Saturday’s meeting is the third that they have with the new rulers since the military ousted President Omar al-Bashir earlier this month.
Rabie says they want to speed up the transition of power to a civilian government that would rule for four years.
Sudan’s military ousted al-Bashir following four months of street protests against his rule, then appointed a military council it says will rule for no more than two years while elections are organized.
Protesters fear the army, dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.
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BENGHAZI, Libya – The U.N. health agency says at least 15 more people died in fighting over control of Libya’s capital in the past two days, bringing the total to 220 dead including civilians.
The World Health Organization said late Friday that 1,066 others have been wounded since the self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 5 to take Tripoli.
The fighting pits the LNA, led by Khalifa Hifter, against rival militias affiliated with a weak U.N.-supported government in the capital.
The clashes threaten to ignite civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Libya is split between rival governments in the east and west.
President Donald Trump phoned Hifter earlier this week, expressing U.S. support for the leader’s perceived stance against terrorism.
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