A make or break week for the peace process

The last two weeks have shown how deceitful the government of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu can be. What happens in the week to come, however, will do much to determine whether the recent cooling between Israel and the United States will have a more permanent bearing on the peace process. As Mr Netanyahu visits Washington this week to address the annual conference of AIPAC, the powerful American pro-Israel lobby, he has a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the US administration; he will also have the chance to take his intransigence right to the Oval Office. The US president Barack Obama, who delayed a trip to Indonesia for two more days of horse trading with the US Congress for votes for his health care proposal, has now made time on Tuesday to meet Mr Netanyahu. The visit comes at the most challenging time for US-Israeli relations in at least a generation.
The US vice president Joe Biden was welcomed to Israel earlier this month with the announcement that it would build 1,600 additional units for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, projects the US administration has called "illegitimate". Mr Obama's top adviser David Axelrod called the announcement "an affront". The secretary of state Hillary Clinton berated Mr Netanyahu on a telephone call that Mr Obama refused himself to take. While Mr Obama is known for keeping his cool, the question this week will be whether he can sustain his ire long enough to find voice for it as Mr Netanyahu arrives in Washington.
Mr Obama is not the only one who has grown impatient. To a number of American officials, including senior generals at the Pentagon, Mr Netanyahu has become the central obstacle to a two-state solution, which they believe is of paramount strategic and moral importance to the US. Mr Obama also received strong support last week from the Quartet, the contact group formed by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the US, who demanded that Israel "freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, dismantle outposts erected since March 2001, and refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem". The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, visiting Ramallah yesterday, drew more attention to the conflict, declaring that all Israeli settlement activity "must be stopped". Mr Ban visits Gaza today.
Strident supporters of Israel in the US, among them Gov Sarah Palin and leaders of the Republican party, have delivered a volley of criticism against the US president for the recent US confrontation with Mr Netanyahu. But public opinion in the US appears to be in Mr Obama's favour. According to a Rasmussen poll, 49 per cent of Americans believe that Israel should be required to stop building settlements while only 22 per cent disagree.
Last spring in Cairo, Mr Obama told the Muslim world that "it was time for settlements to stop". As yet, Mr Obama has been unable to make this happen; in order to get the peace process going, he must. He has international support and that of a near majority of the American public. This week provides Mr Obama another chance to show that his commitment to peace is not just rhetorical and that he can show others that compromise is the only way for the interests and security of all to be protected.


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

What is Folia?

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal's new plant-based menu will launch at Four Seasons hotels in Dubai this November. A desire to cater to people looking for clean, healthy meals beyond green salad is what inspired Prince Khaled and American celebrity chef Matthew Kenney to create Folia. The word means "from the leaves" in Latin, and the exclusive menu offers fine plant-based cuisine across Four Seasons properties in Los Angeles, Bahrain and, soon, Dubai.

Kenney specialises in vegan cuisine and is the founder of Plant Food + Wine and 20 other restaurants worldwide. "I’ve always appreciated Matthew’s work," says the Saudi royal. "He has a singular culinary talent and his approach to plant-based dining is prescient and unrivalled. I was a fan of his long before we established our professional relationship."

Folia first launched at The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in July 2018. It is available at the poolside Cabana Restaurant and for in-room dining across the property, as well as in its private event space. The food is vibrant and colourful, full of fresh dishes such as the hearts of palm ceviche with California fruit, vegetables and edible flowers; green hearb tacos filled with roasted squash and king oyster barbacoa; and a savoury coconut cream pie with macadamia crust.

In March 2019, the Folia menu reached Gulf shores, as it was introduced at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, where it is served at the Bay View Lounge. Next, on Tuesday, November 1 – also known as World Vegan Day – it will come to the UAE, to the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach and the Four Seasons DIFC, both properties Prince Khaled has spent "considerable time at and love". 

There are also plans to take Folia to several more locations throughout the Middle East and Europe.

While health-conscious diners will be attracted to the concept, Prince Khaled is careful to stress Folia is "not meant for a specific subset of customers. It is meant for everyone who wants a culinary experience without the negative impact that eating out so often comes with."

What is the Supreme Petroleum Council?

The Abu Dhabi Supreme Petroleum Council was established in 1988 and is the highest governing body in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas industry. The council formulates, oversees and executes the emirate’s petroleum-related policies. It also approves the allocation of capital spending across state-owned Adnoc’s upstream, downstream and midstream operations and functions as the company’s board of directors. The SPC’s mandate is also required for auctioning oil and gas concessions in Abu Dhabi and for awarding blocks to international oil companies. The council is chaired by Sheikh Khalifa, the President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi while Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, is the vice chairman.