Egypt’s opposition spurns Mursi talks
Egypt’s opposition spurns Mursi talks
Mursi invited his allies and rivals to talks at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Monday to try to resolve a political crisis and end violence on the streets that erupted during anti-government protests. Five days of unrest has led to 50 deaths.
The National Salvation Front, which rejected a similar call for dialogue last year during another spasm of unrest, saw the Islamist leader’s call as “cosmetic and not substantive,” said leading member of the coalition Mohamed ElBaradei.
“We will not go to the dialogue today,” ElBaradei told a news conference after the Front’s members met in Cairo to discuss the invitation.
“We will send a message to the Egyptian people and the president of the republic about what we think are the essentials for dialogue. If he agrees to them, we are ready for dialogue.”
The coalition’s conditions included a demand that Mursi accept responsibility for the bloodshed and agree to form a government of national salvation, echoing previously unmet demands by the opposition.
“We have accepted dialogue (in the past) and went to the president in his office and spoke to him,” said leftist firebrand politician Hamdeen Sabahy. “We did not refuse dialogue. But the result was he issued an oppressive decree.”
Opposition politicians were enraged late last year when Mursi issued a decree awarding himself extra powers that the president’s allies said were essential to help push Egypt’s transition forward. Rivals saw it as a blatant power grab.
Opposition politicians were particularly angered that they had not been given any indication of Mursi’s plans for such a sweeping move in their individual talks with him shortly before the decree was issued.
After that decree, Mursi fast-tracked an Islamist-tinged constitution through a referendum, further enraging his opponents who accused him of reneging on his pledged to be a president for all Egyptians.
Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel
- The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
- There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade
LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.
But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.