World leaders slam Jerusalem move

A Palestinian woman prays at Al-Aqsa compound. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2017

World leaders slam Jerusalem move

JEDDAH: Leaders across the Middle East and the rest of the world warned Wednesday of disastrous consequences as US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — a decision that overturns decades of US policy.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” the US leader declared from the White House. “Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said, urging calm and “the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US can no longer play the role of peace broker. “These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” Abbas said after Trump’s announcement.
He said Trump’s move amounted to “an announcement of US withdrawal from playing the role it has been playing in the past decade in sponsoring the peace process.”
Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process “finished.” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met with European diplomats and told them that the US move “will fuel conflict and increase violence in the entire region.”
Turkey slammed the announcement as irresponsible and illegal. “We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration... the decision is against international law and relevant UN resolutions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned after a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdallah that the move would “play into the hands” of terror groups.
Erdogan has already called a summit meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Dec. 13 to discuss the issue.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said that Trump’s announcement did not change the city’s legal status.
Jordan condemned the move as amounting to a violation of international law and the UN charter.
“The decision of the American president … constitutes a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter,” said government spokesman Mohammed Momani.
Mohammed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Egypt’s former vice president who now lives in self-imposed exile, suggested Arabs do have options, including radically reducing the billions of Arab money flowing to America and a radical downsizing of diplomatic, military and intelligence relations with the US.
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, said: “It incites feelings of anger among all Muslims and threatens world peace.”
“The gates of hell will be opened in the West before the East,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron branded as “regrettable” Trump’s decision, calling for efforts to “avoid violence at all costs.”
“This decision is a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Macron told reporters at a news conference in Algiers.
Palestinian resistance group Hamas which controls Gaza said Trump’s move was a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Hamas urged Arabs and Muslims to “undermine the US interests in the region” and to “shun Israel.”
Pope Francis said that maintaining Jerusalem’s status quo was important “in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implicitly criticized Trump’s decision, warning that the city’s status must be resolved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“From day one as secretary-general of the UN, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said.
“Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides,” Guterres said.

Egypt film festival sparks protests over French director accused of Israel support

Updated 26 min 22 sec ago

Egypt film festival sparks protests over French director accused of Israel support

  • The Cairo Cinema Festival said this week that Claude Lelouche, 80, would be feted at the event next month
  • Decision has sparked a backlash from some Egyptian actors, directors and critics

CAIRO: The decision by an Egyptian film festival to honor an acclaimed French director accused of supporting Israel has sparked controversy in the country.

The Cairo International Film Festival said this week that Claude Lelouche, 80, would be feted at the event next month.

But the decision has sparked a backlash from some Egyptian actors, directors and critics, with some even threatening to boycott the event.

They claim that Lelouche, an Oscar winner who has made more than 50 films, is overly sympathetic to Israel. But the festival organizers said that just because he travels to Israel, does not mean he can not be honored by Egypt.

“He is known for his intransigence of the Israeli Zionist entity, and has made this clear hundreds of times,” Ahmed Kamal, the Egyptian actor and director, said.

He said he would boycott the festival and called on the event’s president, Professor Mohamed Hafsi, to reverse the decision.

While Kamal acknowledged the director’s great achievements, he said standing up against Israel was more important.

“He is part of the history of French and international cinema, but our position on the Zionist entity is not only in defense of the state of Palestine but also in defense of the state of Egypt.”

Kamal said Lelouche has repeatedly declared that he considers Israel an example in resisting fear and hatred in the region. 

Malik Khoury, head of the film department at the American University in Cairo, said even fellow French director Jean-Luc Goddard has referred to Lelouche as a “Zionist.”

"Are we now at the stage of ‘love Israel’, while hundreds of artists from all over the world are united with the Palestinians and refuse to go or deal with the Zionist entity?" 

Egypt is one of the only Arab counties with full diplomatic relations with Israel after the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979.

But in recent years Palestinians have adopted a peaceful boycott movement to try and pressure Israel over its decades long occupation of Palestinian land. The boycott has included artistic figures and events.

Egyptian film critic Yacoub El-Deeb described the decision to honor Lelouche as dangerous.  

“It may be the beginning leading to Israel itself participating later in the festival,” he said.

The festival organisers said they had checked through the interviews Lelouche had given to Israeli media on a recent visit and “that all come within the usual courtesy of artists when visiting any country.”

“Since the members of the Advisory Committee as individuals and the Cairo Festival as a cultural institution have stood throughout its history with the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people, the Committee calls upon everyone to provide them with any document containing a political position declaring Claude Lelouche against the Palestinian cause or the rights of the Arab people, a signed statement, or any other form of political solidarity with the Israeli position,” the organizers said.

Their position was backed by the famous Egyptian producer Mohamed Al-Adl.

“Who knows his views on Zionism? Let’s not take a stand. The man is a famous director, and like many others it’s normal for him to go to Israel,” he said.

Egyptian film critic Youssef Sharif Rizkallah agreed.

“Claude is a great French filmmaker, has a real passion for movies,” he said. “He is unprecedented in French cinema, preferring to follow his own aspirations rather than to catch up with Hollywood cinema through simple stories whose love is repeated and multiplied.”

Lelouche was born in Paris in 1937 to an Algerian jewish father and a mother who converted to Judaism. His film  "A Man and a Woman" won the Palme d'Or at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, and two Oscars 

The Cairo International Film Festivalruns from Nov. 20 to Nov. 29.