Live Middle East: US security adviser cancels meeting with Saudi crown prince

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17:37

US security adviser cancels meeting with Saudi crown prince

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has canceled a visit to Saudi Arabia. The official reason is that he suffered a crack in a rib in an accident, but dissatisfaction among Saudi Arabia about the US position regarding the war in Gaza may also be a factor.

Sullivan’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is said to be about a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. An agreement between the two countries was very close until Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 and Israel then unleashed a war in Gaza. Saudi Arabia subsequently found that a deal with Israel was not possible for the time being, but remained interested in normalization in the background.

The US is also committed to achieving this normalization, following the agreements that Israel concluded in recent years with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. According to those involved, Biden would benefit from a diplomatic success in the run-up to this fall’s presidential elections. Saudi Arabia can look forward to a long-term defense agreement with the United States if it recognizes Israel.

The diplomats involved now tell the news site Axios that the US and Saudi Arabia want to conclude a bilateral agreement and then submit it to Israel, where it is take it or leave it. It is very questionable whether Prime Minister Netanyahu will like this. The Saudis’ condition for recognition of Israel is an end to the war in Gaza and an irreversible diplomatic path that guarantees the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has repeatedly indicated that he does not want a Palestinian state to emerge.

Joram Bolle

15:54

UN soldiers in Lebanon were probably injured by a landmine

An incident in which three UN soldiers and an interpreter were injured in Lebanon on Saturday was most likely the result of a landmine. This is what anonymous sources from the Lebanese army told the AFP news agency.

Military personnel from Australia; Chile and Norway of UN peacekeeping force Unifil were hit by an explosion. Fingers quickly pointed to Israel, which denied involvement. According to the Israeli army, no attacks were carried out in the area where the soldiers were injured. It could be an explosive from Hezbollah, the army said. Hezbollah refused to respond.

Unifil is also investigating the explosion. The UN mission says it has no indications that the explosion was caused ‘by direct or indirect fire’. Unifil did not say what the cause was, but the finding appears to be in line with the Israeli army’s statement.

The UN Unifil mission has been active in the border area between Israel and Lebanon since 1978. UN soldiers regularly carry out patrols around the Blue Line, the demarcation line between the two countries that was agreed in 2000. The three soldiers were on such a patrol when they were victims of an explosion.

Joram Bolle

Blue helmets in southern LebanonImage AFP

13:53

Polish justice begins investigation into death of Polish aid worker after Israeli attack

Justice in Poland has started an investigation into the death of aid worker Damian Sobol, which was affiliated with World Central Kitchen. An American aid agency convoy was hit by an Israeli attack earlier this week. Sobol and six others were killed. ‘We have started an investigation into the death of Sobol between April 1 and 2 in Gaza, as a result of an Israeli attack with explosives,” said the prosecutor in Przemyśl, the city in southeastern Poland where Sobol came from.

The 35-year-old man was the only Pole killed in the attack. The BBC writes that the mayor of Przemyśl it was able to identify him on images as one of the victims. Sobol was in Gaza to provide meals to Palestinians.

Damian Soból, date unknown.Image via REUTERS

The deaths of the seven volunteers have sparked diplomatic tensions between Israel and several Western allies. Polish Prime Minister Tusk today lashed out at his Israeli counterpart on X. He did so after Netanyahu stated that the convoy had been unintentionally targeted and that such things “just happen in times of war.”

Since October 7, the majority of Poles have consistently expressed solidarity with Israel, https://twitter.com/donaldtusk/status/1775417561674322317. ‘But today that solidarity is being put to the test.’ Tusk described the angry reaction in his country to Netanyahu’s statements as: understandable.

Maartje Geels

04:16

Palestinians are making another attempt to become a UN member state

The Palestinians, who have had observer status at the United Nations since 2012, officially restarted the procedure to become a UN member state on Tuesday. This is evident from a letter from the Palestinian UN ambassador that the AFP news agency has seen.

In the letter to the UN Secretary General, Riyad Mansour announces that he is reviving the membership request dating from 2011 ‘at the request of the Palestinian leaders’. He asks the Security Council to investigate it ‘in April 2024’.

The ambassador has repeated several times in recent months that the Palestinians would like to become full members of the UN in view of a possible large-scale Israeli offensive.

In 2011, the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas launched the procedure for the ‘accession of the Palestinian State to the UN’. This was never completed and the Palestinians were eventually granted observer status in November 2012, following the vote of a resolution in the UN General Assembly.

According to the United Nations Convention, the accession of a state is decided by the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority, but only after a positive recommendation from the Security Council.

Observers say it is doubtful that the question will be submitted to the General Assembly. There is a considerable chance that the US, an ally of Israel, will use its veto power in the Security Council to block Palestinian membership.

ANP/Editorial

04:14

Biden ‘outraged and deeply saddened’ by Israel’s killing of aid workers

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he is “outraged and heartbroken” by the Israeli airstrike in Gaza that killed seven people working for the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK). “Even more tragic, this is not an isolated incident,” Biden continued. “This conflict is one of the worst in recent history, if you look at the number of aid workers who have died.”

Biden also said Israel is not doing enough to protect aid workers and civilians in Gaza. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to combine its military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations to avoid civilian casualties,” he said. He did not indicate what the possible consequences would be if Israel does not comply.

ANP

02:48

Israeli army calls killing of aid workers ‘serious mistake’

The recent Israeli airstrikes on an aid convoy from aid organization World Central Kitchen (WCK), which killed seven aid workers, were a ‘serious mistake’. Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said this on Tuesday.

According to Halevi, the aid workers were not deliberately attacked on Monday. An investigation into the incident by the military reportedly showed that the attacks were the result of “misidentification” of the aid convoy’s vehicles, Halevi said.

WCK was one one of the few NGOs still active in the Gaza Strip. The employees distributed food and helped with the first delivery of relief supplies by boat from Cyprus. After the attack, the organization announced it was ceasing its operations in the region.

According to WCK, the victims are three Britons, a man of American-Canadian nationality, a Pole, an Australian and a Palestinian. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he has communicated the “anger” of the Australian people to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog had also apologized on Tuesday evening. Netanyahu spoke of an “accidental” attack and a “tragic” incident.

ANP

01:31

King Abdullah of Jordan praises the Spanish government for its position on the Gaza war

Jordan’s King Abdullah has thanked Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for supporting his position on the Gaza war. Spain is critical of Israel’s role and strongly advocates a ceasefire so that civilians in Gaza are safe and humanitarian aid can be delivered.

This is also the position that Abdullah has advocated during various trips and visits in recent times. The Jordanian king received Sanchéz at the palace in Amman. Sanchéz is currently traveling through the area and visiting several countries.

It was the first time in fifteen years that a Spanish prime minister visited Jordan.

ANP

01:31

US: Israel responsible for attack in Damascus

According to the US government, Israel is responsible for the attack on the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh reported this during a press conference.

At least thirteen people are said to have been killed in the attack on an annex of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, including two generals and five other members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Iran considers Israel responsible for the attack and threatens retaliation.

Singh was asked on Tuesday whether the US had been involved in the airstrike. “The US has not carried out an attack in Damascus. “I need to refer you to the Israelis to speak to them about the attack,” she replied. Asked whether it is the government’s official assessment that Israel is responsible, she replied: “That is our assessment.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli army said it would not respond to reports in foreign media.

According to Singh, the US made it clear to Iran through confidential channels that it was not involved in the attack. Israel had not informed the US in advance of the attack or the target.

The attack raises fears that the war between Israel and Hamas will spread further in the region. Iran is an ally of Hamas, against whom Israel has been waging a war in the Gaza Strip since October.

ANP/Editorial

11:59 PM, Yesterday

Welcome to the live blog of Wednesday April 3

This was the most important news about the crisis in the Middle East on Tuesday, April 2:

Israel says it is responsible for the attack on an aid convoy in the Gaza Strip that killed seven aid workers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was an “unintentional attack on innocent people.”

The deaths of the aid workers have temporarily ended the humanitarian corridor that brought food aid by sea from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip. Two-thirds of the convoy of the aid organization World Central Kitchen, for which the aid workers worked, which was on its way to the Gaza Strip by ship, turns back.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the destruction of Al Shifa Hospital has ripped the heart out of the Gaza Strip’s health system. The two-week Israeli attack has left the hospital completely out of action, a spokesperson for the organization said. Images show how the hospital has been almost completely destroyed.

Read Tuesday’s full live blog here.

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