"Sharon and Arafat must solve Middle East conflict"

US congressman offers some out of date advice on Israel/Palestine.

Looking for a new and fresh approach to solving the Israel/Palestine conflict? Don't ask US Representative Joe Pitts, the Pennsylvania congressman who has become something of an internet sensation. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday:

Replying to a Chester County constituent's e-mail regarding Middle East tensions, Pitts wrote on April 20 that "it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat" to hunker down at the negotiating table.

Problem is, Arafat died in 2004. And Sharon, no longer Israel's leader, has lain in a coma-like state since a massive stroke in 2006.

. . .

"Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns," Pitts began. ". . .With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process."

Pitts' assistant said: “It’s a dumb mistake that is the result of human error in a complicated mail system,” rather than a reflection of the congressman's knowledge of international affairs.

The Times of Israel reported that neither Sharon or Arafat were available for comment.

Hat-tip: Huffington Post

 

A Palestinian artist paints a mural of Yasser Arafat, Gaza City, 2005. Photograph: Getty Images

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Barcelona. Photo: Getty
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Barcelona van attack being treated as terrorism

The death toll has been raised from initial reports following the attack on Las Ramblas.

At least 13 people are dead and 50 injured after a van ploughed into pedestrians on a busy shopping street in Barcelona.

The white Fiat was deliberately targeting bystanders in the popular tourist area of Las Ramblas, according to witnesses. Police are treating the incident as terrorism and have arrested one man. Earlier reports of armed men in a cafe have not been corroborated.

The prime minister Theresa May has issued a statement saying that "the UK stands with Spain against terror". Other world leaders, including Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, have also voiced their support for Spain. 

The city's metro system was on lockdown, while terrified tourists hid in shops and restaurants. 

Van attacks have become an increasingly popular form of weapon for both far right and Islamist terror groups. On 12 August, a car ploughed into anti-Nazi protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia. Just three days earlier, a man rammed a vehicle into a group of soldiers in Paris. Last July, 86 people died after Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a lorry into a crowd in Nice.