Mahmoud Abbas to demand EU recognize Palestinian state: Senior official

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (AP)
Updated 22 January 2018

Mahmoud Abbas to demand EU recognize Palestinian state: Senior official

BRUSSELS: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas will ask the EU to officially recognize the state of Palestine when he meets foreign ministers from the bloc on Monday, a senior official told AFP Sunday.
Palestinian foreign minister Riad Al-Malki said Abbas will tell the EU it should take the step “as a way to respond” to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Abbas will also “reiterate his commitment to the peace process” in the Middle East, Malki said in an interview with AFP in Brussels.
A week ago Abbas denounced Trump’s efforts to resolve the long-running conflict as the “slap of the century” and caused alarm by saying Israel had sunk the so-called Oslo accords that underpin the stalled peace process.
“Since Trump’s decision has altered the rules of the game, he (Abbas) expects the European foreign ministers to come forward and collectively recognize the state of Palestine as a way to respond back to Trump’s decision,” Malki said.

Abbas’s talks in Brussels come as US Vice President Mike Pence visits Israel during a tour of the Middle East with Arab anger still smoldering over Washington’s hugely contentious decision on Jerusalem.
Abbas and the Palestinian leadership are refusing to meet Pence because of the declaration, making his visit a rare one by a high-ranking US official not to include talks with the Palestinians.

Abbas will urge the EU to take on a bigger role in trying to move peace efforts forward, declaring American “exclusivity and monopoly” in the process is over, Malki said.
“If the Europeans want to be a player then they have to be fair in their treatment of both parties and this should start with the recognition of the state of Palestine,” Malki said.
Abbas will meet EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers on Monday on the sidelines of their monthly meeting, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a similar visit last month.
Diplomats and officials in Brussels say recognition for Palestine is not on the cards on Monday — the EU leaves recognition in the hands of individual members — and the best Abbas can hope for is progress toward an “association agreement” with the bloc.
Malki told AFP that while the Palestinian Authority was “very serious” about such an agreement, they also expected to be formally recognized as a state.
“One does not replace the other. Absolutely not,” he said.
Despite Abbas’s comments on the Oslo accord and his insistence that the United States can no longer serve as mediator, Malki said he was still committed to the peace process — effectively frozen since 2014.
“He wants to reiterate his commitment to the peace process. He’s going to say I’m not going to withdraw from the peace process, I will stay committed,” Malki told AFP.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working for months with a small team to develop a new US proposal to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but no details or even news of progress have emerged.
A senior EU official said Friday the bloc “believes a plan is in the making” but is still in the dark about “the content of this plan or the parameters.”
Malki said it was “very clear to us we should not wait until the Americans present their plan.”
“The Americans should understand that the Palestinians, the Arabs, everybody, will not accept an American plan that does not include Jerusalem, that does not include settlements, that does not include refugees,” Malki said.

 


Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

Updated 20 August 2019

Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

  • The museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies

CAIRO: The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to open in 2022, is already a beacon for future Egyptian prosperity.

Built to showcase Egypt’s civilization and heritage, the museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies, as well as housing a very important restoration center which will help in preserving Egyptian Pharaonic heritage.

It is hoped the GEM will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

Egypt began work on the museum in 2008 at a cost of approximately $550 million, with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities funding $100 million, with the remainder facilitated through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in addition to local and international donations.

Covering the third phase of the build, Japanese support was not limited to the loan, but extended to the financial and technical support of the museum’s preservation and conservation center. 

Moreover, Japan currently supports the museum’s archaeological database and the team chosen to cultivate and manage it. 

The JICA also organizes a program that holds several restoration training sessions in both Egypt and Japan, in partnership with the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. 

Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan Ayman Kamel talked about the details of Japan’s participation in constructing the GEM.

“This project, which was launched years ago, is a success story in Egyptian-Japanese bilateral relations,” Kamel said.

BACKGROUND

It is hoped the Grand Egyptian Museum will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

He added that Japan contributed in supporting one of the Egyptian centers specializing in monument restoration, providing “unmatched” Japanese eco-friendly materials and technology. 

Kamel predicted that following its inauguration, the GEM would be a source of pride not only for Egypt and Japan but also for the whole world.

“The final inauguration will take place in 2022 when all construction operations are completed.”

Japan’s Ambassador to Egypt Masaki Noke said the GEM was a “huge project that transfers heritage to the coming generations” and hailed Egypt for carrying out “this huge archaeological project.” 

Noke added that the Japanese were very happy to participate in this huge achievement which he considered of paramount importance “not only on the economic level but also on the human level in general.”

Around 42,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt in 2018, adding to an increasingly large community of Japanese residents, and a sizable presence of archaeological missions working in the country.  

Egyptian archaeological expert Ahmed Kadry told Arab News that there are currently 10 Japanese archaeological missions in Egypt with universities and institutions.

Kadry said that the GEM’s inauguration in 2022 will change the perspective of museum tourism the world over, and hailed to work of Japanese and Egyptian archaeologists for their work in the field of diagnostic examination of monuments by using hand-held devices called XRFs, a primary examination machine using X-rays.

He added the results of such examinations provided useful information regarding the preparation of painted layers “which help in not only deepening the understanding of the condition of murals once they are restored but also in conducting more research to gain more knowledge in the field of archaeology.”

In July 2018, Dr. Tadayuki Hara, an associate professor and senior research fellow at the Institute for Tourism Studies, gave a lecture on how to improve the value of touristic assets in Egypt at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, where he cited the importance of the GEM in Egypt’s future.

“Revenues can be created through great memories,” Dr. Hara said. “That can be achieved through the GEM, the project that Japan is taking part in constructing.”