PALESTINIANS REACT TO US PLANS TO RELOCATE EMBASSY
Palestinians have called on mosques around the Middle East to recite special prayers on Thursday to protest the planned movement of America’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem – a city claimed as the future capital by both Israeli and Palestinians.
Jerusalem’s religious significance to both Islam and Judaism renders it a contentious issue in the resolution of the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian dispute. While the proposed American embassy relocation is permitted by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, it has been ignored by previous administrations over fears it could cripple a two-state solution.
The Palestinian Authority may react by seeking full United Nations member status. If successful, this could lead incoming President Donald Trump to cut funding to the organisation – a move that is already authorised under a 1990 law that prohibits America from funding UN agencies that recognise Palestinian statehood. In 2011, America halted funding to UNESCO for this very reason.
Due to the threat to one of the world’s key international organisations, the efforts of Palestinian officials are likely to stop short of official recognition, but will generate public support for their cause nonetheless.
SOUTH KOREA’S CENTRAL BANK MEETS AMID TURMOIL
South Korea’s central bank will meet on Friday to reassess monetary policy. Central bank Governor Lee Ju-yeol says the board will seek to maintain “accommodative monetary policy” to support economic recovery amid low growth. The Bank of Korea forecasts the country’s economy will expand by a modest 2.8% in 2017.
Growth rates and investor confidence will continue to be hampered by the country’s ongoing political corruption scandal, which has already resulted in the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Park is accused of allowing her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to influence government policy
On Thursday, the vice chairman and heir-apparent of the Samsung Group – South Korea’s largest company and parent of the smartphone maker – was questioned in relation to the scandal. Prosecutors allege Samsung Group donated millions to a company owned by Choi in return for political favours.
With ongoing political uncertainty, the country’s largest companies on trial and elections scheduled for later this year, South Korea’s central bankers are going to have to be very “accommodative” indeed.
HAITIAN COUP LEADER FACES COURT IN THE US
Haitian politician Guy Philippe, who led a coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, will appear before a US court on Friday charged with drug trafficking and money laundering.
Philippe was arrested last week and extradited to the US just days before he was due to take up a position in Haiti’s Senate – a position that would have afforded him immunity from criminal prosecution.
The indictment was initially made in the 2000s, forcing Philippe to flee to the Dominican Republic before returning to lead the 2004 coup. Though the coup leader initially enjoyed US support, persisting violence between his forces and the opposition led to the intervention of US Marines and a request for Philippe to leave the country.
Philippe had set up headquarters in a remote fishing village before his arrest, allegedly guarded by a large rebel army. His popularity is considerable, having been elected as a Senator for the largest department in southern Haiti. By swooping in to extradite Philippe before he’s afforded immunity, the US may well be rekindling its attempt to secure peace and influence in Haiti.