Leaders welcome meeting of Palestine Central Council
Leaders welcome meeting of Palestine Central Council
Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO’s executive committee and a senior leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Arab News that it was time that the PLO’s top bodies met to assess the current situation.
“The last time that the PCC met was in March 2015 and at that time it was decided to hold a meeting every three months,” he said. Khaled said that a number of decisions made at the last meeting had yet to be carried out. “It was decided to end our connection with the Oslo Accords and the security coordination with Israel but this has not happened.”
Senior Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad said Monday the central council will discuss the declaration of Palestine as a “state under occupation.” Ahmad said that the PCC will convene in the middle of January 2018 in Ramalah.
Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a member of the Palestine National Council, also welcomed the call for the central council, although he also wants the more important Palestine National Council (PNC) to meet as soon as possible.
“We need the PNC to meet now because of the extremely difficult situation we are in and in order to have a high level discussion of our priorities, and to launch a new national liberation strategy that is in sync with our people’s wishes of having an independent state and enacting the right of return,” he said.
Nasrallah, a Fatah leader in Nablus who spent many years in Israeli jails, told Arab News that it was important to reassess relations with the Israeli occupiers and the Americans. “We need a serious review of the entire Oslo process, what is positive and negative about it, so that we can rid ourselves of these shackles and return to proper relations between an occupied people and the occupation. We also need to seriously review our relations with the United states,” Nasrallah said.
Tayseer Khaled also believes that the time has come for the state of Palestine to join all remaining international organizations and agencies.
“This is an opportune time for the PLO to decide on joining some 22 international agencies we have been prevented from joining due to the US conditions,” he said.
He believes that a new strategy for Palestine should include the need to agree on a new multinational mechanism for sponsoring any future talks.
It is still not clear whether Hamas and Islamic Jihad will attend the upcoming Palestine Central Council and where exactly it will take place. A senior source in the Popular Front said it preferred that the meeting would take place outside the Occupied Territories to ensure that all members attended.
However, Nasrallah told Arab News that it was best to hold the meeting in Palestine and those who could not come could join via video conferencing.
Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast
- Recent appointments in Egypt are the latest example of the rise of women to high political office in the region
- “The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position”
CAIRO, LONDON: The appointment of two more female ministers this month to the new Egyptian Cabinet means women now fill eight out of 34 positions, the highest number in the modern history of Egypt.
Hala Zayed is the new health minister while Yasmine Fouad takes over as environment minister. Both women replaced men and join culture minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat, Nabila Makram (immigration minister) Ghada Wali (social solidarity minister), Hala El-Saeed (planning minister) and Sahar Nasr (minister of investment and international cooperation).
The appointments by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly have been welcomed as forward thinking by social and political commentators.
Dr. Magda Bagnied, a writer and professor of communication, told Arab News: “I believe whoever planned for those eight effective ministries was looking forward for the future of Egypt since they are all interconnected in some way, and having females leading them is a leap forward.
“A country’s rank and status is measured by the role of women. The higher the number of leadership roles for women, the further the country is considered to be on the road to development.”
Four out of 15 new deputy ministers are also women and women now hold 15 percent of the seats in Parliament.
The rise of women to high political office in the Arab world is by no means restricted to Egypt.
Jordan also has a record number of women ministers after Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz appointed seven women to the 29-member Cabinet sworn in last week.
“The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position.”
The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Twenty-three members of the new Jordanian Cabinet have been ministers before and 13 were members of the outgoing government that was brought down by popular protest.
Rawan Joyoussi, whose posters became one of the defining images of the protests, said: “I was hoping that women would be empowered and I am happy with that. But as far as the composition of the rest of the government is concerned, I think we have to play our part to create the mechanisms that will hold the government accountable.”
In the UAE, women hold nine out of 31 ministerial positions, and one of them, Minister for Youth Shamma Al-Mazrui, is also the world’s youngest minister, appointed in 2016 when she was only 22.
This makes the UAE Cabinet nearly 30 percent female, which is higher than India, almost equal to the UK and far ahead of the US, where Donald Trump has just four women in his Cabinet.
The general election in Morocco in October 2016 produced 81 women members of Parliament, accounting for 21 percent of the total 395 seats. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won the most votes, also ended up with the highest number of women MPs, 18.
Though elections in Saudi Arabia were open to women only in 2015, it ranks 100th out of 193rd in the world league table of women in national governing bodies, slightly above the US at 102nd place.
A policy briefing from the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington says that one of the best ways for a country to ease economic pressure and boost productivity is to increase female participation in the workplace and in political life.
“Introducing diversity through gender parity will benefit economic growth and can help Arab countries to generate prosperity as well as the normative and social imperative of change,” wrote analyst Bessma Momani.
Yet in some parts of the Middle East, female representation seems to be going backward.
In 2009, four of Kuwait’s 65 MPs were women. In 2012 there were three and in 2013 only one. In 2016, 15 women stood for election to the 50 open parliamentary seats (the other 15 are appointed). Only one, Safa Al-Hashem, who was already an MP, was successful.
Qatar has no women MPs or ministers at all.
Egypt’s appointment of two more women ministers does not have the appearance of tokenism. The new Health Minister, Hala Zayed, 51, has a solid background in the field as a former president of the Academy of Health Sciences, a hospital specializing in cancer treatment for children.
She was also government adviser on health, chairwoman of a committee for combating corruption at the ministry she now heads and also has a Ph.d. in project management.
Similarly, Yasmeen Fouad, 43, the new environment minister, has four years’ experience as a former assistant minister in the same department, where she was known as “the lady for difficult missions,” and liaised with the UN. She is also an assistant professor of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Egypt’s first female minister was Hikmat Abu Zaid, appointed minister of social affairs in 1962 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who dubbed her “the merciful heart of revolution.”
Now there are eight like her, demonstrating that in the Middle East, “girl power” is on the rise.