European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (C) speaks during a debate on the recognition of Palestinian statehood, on November 26, 2014 (photo: AFP/FREDERICK FLORIN)
New EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini called on Israel and the Palestinians Wednesday to resume direct peace talks, as the European Parliament debated whether to recognize a Palestinian state.
“The sense of urgency is getting higher and higher in the absence of a political context,” Mogherini told lawmakers at the start of what she said was a “timely” debate. “There has to be a direct dialogue.”
The debate came as a growing number of European leaders and lawmakers are calling for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.
In Wednesday’s debate, European Parliament members appeared sharply divided on what policy to endorse. One lawmaker branded Israel “a state of child killers and land robbers,” while another likened a Palestinian state to the Islamic State terrorist group.
A vote, originally expected Thursday, was put off until December.
A snowstorm pummeling the East has produced lengthy flight delays and treacherous travel on roadways Wednesday. As snow rapidly exits the Northeast into Thanksgiving Day, there will still be some travel trouble spots in the wake of the storm.
Aircraft displaced and delayed by the storm in the East may lead to additional flight delays and cancellations on Thanksgiving Day across the nation. Passengers may have to schedule a different flight on an alternate route to get to their destination.
In anticipation of delays or cancellations, several airlines, including US Airways, American and Delta, have announced they will waive change fees for passengers scheduled to fly into airports in the line of the storm.
Time is running out to get post-war reconstruction going in Gaza, which needs not only cement and bricks but also fundamental political change, the EU's representative said during a visit to the enclave on Wednesday.
Speaking at the opening of an exhibition of photographs taken during the July-August war, John Gatt-Rutter said he was painfully aware how much needed to be done to speed up the delivery of aid to Gaza's 1.8 million people.
"A long time has gone by without enough cement or enough materials coming in that will allow people to rebuild their houses," said the EU representative to the West Bank and Gaza.
"We do not have the luxury of waiting infinitely... There is a real need to move urgently and diplomatically and politically to try to work something out."
Veteran US diplomat and former Obama adviser Dennis Ross (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Iran’s unwillingness to move on its positions during recent rounds of nuclear negotiations indicates Tehran’s negotiators may be incapable of sealing a comprehensive agreement, veteran US diplomat Dennis Ross said Tuesday morning.
A day after nuclear talks with Iran were extended until July 2015 after the sides failed to come together after a year of intensive negotiations, Ross said that the US had demonstrated flexibility during the talks, including a willingness to back down on demands over the Arak heavy water facility, but that they were received by intransigence by their Iranian counterparts.
Ross, a former special adviser on the Persian Gulf for the US State Department who is currently a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, did not play any official role in the talks.
He did not detail how he knew the inside working of the negotiations, which have mostly been kept under wraps.
Ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had become "very, very frustrated" in the post before President Obama sought his resignation, according to a key lawmaker, who blasted the White House for a whispering campaign that accompanied the Pentagon boss' abrupt ouster Monday morning.
“I thank Chuck Hagel for his service, and I know that he was very, very frustrated,” Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is expected to take control of the Senate Armed Services Committee in January, said in a radio interview with KFYI.
McCain spoke following a Rose Garden press conference at which Hagel stood stiffly while Obama announced he would be stepping down. Although McCain, who served in the Senate with Hagel from 1996-2008, opposed his fellow Vietnam veteran's appointment to defense secretary, he said administration sources were wrong to assail Hagel on his way out the door.
“Already White House people are leaking, ‘Well, he wasn’t up to the job,’" McCain said. "Well, believe me, he was up to the job. It was the job he was given, where he really was never really brought into that real tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions which has put us into the incredible debacle that we’re in today throughout the world.”
The European Parliament plans to hold a vote on Thursday on a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state, following Sweden’s official decision to do so and symbolic votes in Spain, the UK and Ireland.
The moves reflect mounting frustration in the EU at Israel's expanding settlement program on land the Palestinians want for a state following the collapse of US-sponsored peace talks.
Israel is working to foil the decision, with officials warning that if the motion passes, the country will view Europe’s decision as anti-Israeli.
The parties behind the initiative are the Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D) and the Unified European Left Party (GUE).
The largest sunspot to appear on Earth's nearest star in more than two decades is once again pointed at the planet, and it will likely kick-start solar storms, NASA scientists say.
The massive sunspot, previously known as Active Region 12192, was turned toward Earth in October and early November, but rotated out of view. While it was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the sunspot did not produce any coronal mass ejections — hot bursts of material ejected into space at 4 million mph (6.4 million km/h) — which have the potential to damage satellites and power grids. Now the active region has rotated back around to face Earth again, and although the sunspot has shrunk in size, it will likely be disruptive, NASA scientist Holly Gilbert told Space.com during a video interview about the massive sunspot.
"This time around, it's more likely to have some coronal mass ejections associated with it, even though the solar flares might be smaller," said Gilbert, chief of the Solar Physics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "We have a good idea, based on the structure of that magnetic field and the sunspot, that it's very possible that it will create some midlevel flares."
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