Tension in Palestine amid Arafat death anniversary

A supporter of the Fatah movement attends a ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death. (AP)
Updated 13 November 2016
0

Tension in Palestine amid Arafat death anniversary

GAZA: Days after the 12th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leaders descended into new recriminations over who may have been involved in the demise of the former president.
Coming two weeks before a meeting that is expected to overhaul the leadership of Fatah, the party of Arafat and President Mahmoud Abbas, the accusations underscore a growing animosity that threatens the movement’s stability.
Speaking at a memorial on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas said he knew who was behind Arafat’s death and that an investigating panel would soon reveal its findings.
“The result will come out in the nearest time possible and you will be surprised to know who did it,” Abbas said. Although he stopped short of naming suspects, Abbas’s comments were widely seen as referring to his main political rival — Mohammad Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief.
Dahlan, a fierce Abbas critic who lives in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates, took to Facebook on Saturday to point the finger at Abbas.
“He (Abbas) is not qualified to make accusations and he personally is in the circle of accusation and the sole beneficiary of Abu Ammar disappearance,” Dahlan wrote, referring to Arafat by his nickname. Abbas’s office could not be reached for comment.
Officials within Fatah are growing increasingly impatient with Abbas’s leadership and rival groups have been emerging ahead of a party congress, the first since 2009, set to take place this month.
Dahlan, 55, retains influence within Fatah’s revolutionary council and central committee — the equivalent of Fatah’s parliament.
Abbas, 81, is expected at the party congress to push for the election of a new central committee and revolutionary council that would be free of Dahlan loyalists.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab states have been pressuring Abbas to resolve divisions in Fatah and with the rival Hamas movement. Neighboring states and diplomats fear the festering divisions could lead to conflict.
Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accord with Israel but led a deadly uprising after subsequent talks broke down in 2000, died in 2004 aged 75 in a French hospital four weeks after falling ill.
The official cause of death was a massive stroke, but French doctors were unable at the time to determine the origin of the illness and no autopsy was carried out. Palestinian leaders have blamed Israel. Israel denies involvement.


Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

Updated 27 min 58 sec ago
0

Ports deal is chance for Yemen peace talks, says UN envoy

  • Forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa
  • The second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters

NEW YORK: The expected pullout of forces from three key ports in Yemen provides an opportunity to move to the major goal of ending the four-year conflict that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the UN envoy for the war-battered country said on Tuesday.

Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that Yemen’s government and Houthi militias demonstrated that they are able to deliver on commitments they made in December in Stockholm by agreeing on the first phase of redeployment from the ports.

He said forces will initially be withdrawn from the smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa, beginning “possibly” on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will be followed by a pullout from the major port of Hodeidah and critical parts of the city that will allow access to the Red Sea Mills, a major UN storage facility holding enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month, he said.

Griffiths called on the parties to fully implement the first phase and to agree on details of the second phase of the redeployment of forces, “which we hope will lead to the demilitarization” of Hodeidah, whose port handles about 70 percent of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

A UN official said the first phase involves pulling back several kilometers, and the second phase a withdrawal of 18 to 30 kilometers, depending on the location and fighters. In some places in Hodeidah city, the opposing forces are facing each other about 100 meters apart, the official said.

The UN is appealing for more than $4 billion to assist 15 million Yemenis this year and UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock implored donors to pledge generously at a conference next week in Geneva.