Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s top diplomatic adviser on Thursday poured cold water on swirling media reports regarding a US-led regional peace process that would see Arab states partially thawing their relations with Israel as a first step toward restarting peace talks.
“There is no regional peace process or anything like it,” Majdi al-Khalidi told The Times of Israel. “No one is talking about it with us, or with anyone.”
The latest report, on Thursday in the Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom, quoted an unnamed senior Palestinian official revealing ostensible details of what US President Donald Trump conveyed to Abbas when the two men met in Bethlehem earlier this week.
According to that report, Trump’s approach appears to fall in line with that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been promoting a so-called “outside-in” approach that would see ties normalized between Israel and moderate Arab states as a way to promote peace with the Palestinians.
By contrast, Palestinian leadership has insisted on the time-honored formula, first laid down in a 2002 Saudi-led peace initiative, that sees a peace treaty between Israelis and Palestinians as a prerequisite for normalization with the entire Arab and Muslim world.
The Chinese Navy has warned a US warship to leave, as it sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea “without permission.” Beijing says that the latest US move disrupts the peace process in the region.
After the USS Dewey guided missile destroyer entered waters near the disputed land “without permission from the Chinese government,” the country’s navy “warned it to leave,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a news conference on Thursday, as cited by AFP.
China slammed the recent US patrol, saying that it “undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests.” Beijing urged Washington to “correct this mistake” and refrain from further provocations that can undermine the “peace and security of the region” as well as bilateral cooperation between the US and China.
“Stop taking further provocative actions that hurt China’s sovereignty and maritime interests, so as to avoid hurting peace and security of the region and long term cooperation between the two countries,” Lu Kang stated. He added that these patrols can “cause unexpected air and sea accidents,” Reuters reports.
Airstrikes by F-16s alone, however, are a foreboding prospect. North Korea has ample surface-to-air missiles, and it would be dangerous to send non-stealth aircraft such as the F-16 over target sets without first suppressing its air defenses and command and control centers. It would also imperil Seoul, which would quickly bear the brunt of North Korea’s response to U.S. military action. But here, too, the United States is prepared. Strikes would likely be carried out in part by stealth bombers from Andersen Air Force Base, which is located nearby in Guam. (As it happens, the Guam Chamber of Commerce will soon be briefed on civil defense, terrorist threats and North Korea, according to a report published May 22. Tellingly, no attempt was made to hide the preparations, nor was any concern paid to how North Korea might respond.) The United States could, moreover, deploy the F-35 stealth aircraft it has had stationed in Japan since January. This way, the United States could attack artillery targets, and therefore mitigate the damage against Seoul, before it attacked air defense targets. The F-16s in theater are equipped with weapons systems that are designed to target anti-aircraft capabilities, so they would extend their strikes to destroy air defenses, opening the door for non-stealth defense aircraft.
Any attack would begin by striking North Korean command centers, including political command centers. With this in mind, the North Koreans have probably developed a system by which command would be delegated to the field in the event top commanders were killed.
We also don’t know how exactly North Korea would counter an attack. Its leaders are well prepared, even seemingly cocky in their behavior, which has all but dared Washington to attack. Either they are bluffing or they have viable options for a counterattack. Maybe they have a robust offensive capability. Maybe they can destroy U.S. ships and aircraft. Maybe they are further along in their nuclear program than the U.S. thought. Maybe their ballistic missiles can reach Guam.