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20:12, 26 June 2017 Monday
Update: 16:29, 23 May 2010 Sunday

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Palestinians urged to be "free of illegal Israeli settlement goods"
Palestinians urged to be

Abbas joined a campaign to stop Palestinians buying goods produced by illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, urging all Palestinians to shun the products.

President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday joined a campaign to stop Palestinians buying goods produced by illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, urging all Palestinians to shun the products.

Thousands of young Palestinians began a door-to-door campaign on Tuesday against products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The 75-year old Palestinian leader opened his door to volunteers distributing leaflets detailing products from furniture to soft drinks which the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has banned from Palestinian markets.

"I call on all Palestinian citizens to do the same and to boycott these goods," said Abbas, speaking in public for the first time about a campaign spearheaded by his prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

"It is not necessary, under any circumstances, for us to consume goods originating from settlements that were established on our territory," he said in Ramallah, where he met members of the movement that organised the boycott.

"We are very happy that our young people... went voluntarily to empty Palestinian homes of products from the settlements," Abbas added.

He put a sticker on his door declaring his house "free of settlement goods".

By banning settlement goods, the Palestinians aim to encourage European Union member states to ban trade with enterprises in the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

Abbas signed a presidential decree in April stipulating punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment for Palestinians dealing in settlement goods. The Palestinian Authority also aims to stop Palestinians from working in the Israeli enclaves.

Palestinian officials estimate the value of settlement goods sold in the Palestinian market at up to $500 million. The settlements employ around 25,000 Palestinians.


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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.