No talks with US until Jerusalem move reversed: Palestinian official

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat watches a speech given by US President Donald Trump at his residence in the West Bank city of Jericho, on December 6, 2017, during which Trump announced the recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plans to relocate the US embassy there. (AFP)
Updated 30 January 2018
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No talks with US until Jerusalem move reversed: Palestinian official

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians’ top negotiator said Tuesday there could be no discussions with US President Donald Trump’s administration until his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is reversed.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinians’ longtime chief negotiator, told AFP in an interview the decision was “part of a new American era of moving from negotiation to dictation.”
Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital set off protests among Palestinians, who consider the city to be their capital as well.
Erekat’s comments come with rhetoric further sharpening between Trump’s White House and the Palestinians, who have said the United States can no longer mediate in the Middle East conflict and boycotted a recent visit by US Vice President Mike Pence.
Last week, Trump accused the Palestinians of disrespecting the United States and threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid until they returned to the negotiating table.
Provoking Palestinian outrage, he reaffirmed his Jerusalem decision and said the disputed city had been taken “off the table,” despite having previously said his recognition did not preclude later negotiations on its borders.
Trump made the comments in Davos, Switzerland, while seated next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Erekat, the Palestinians — faced with what they see as a blatantly biased US administration — are aiming to convene an international conference in an effort to show global support for a two-state solution to the conflict.
Asked whether there can be any contact with the Trump administration if the Jerusalem decision is not reversed, Erekat said: “How can you?“
“You heard what President Trump said in Davos. He said: ‘We took Jerusalem off the table’.”
“The minute any Palestinian goes and meets with American officials, it is an acceptance of their decision. Now they are threatening us with money, with aid,” he said.
“They promised not to impose any solution, and now they want the meeting for the sake of the meeting.”
Erekat said it was as if they were telling the Palestinians, “Come here boy, we know what’s good for you.”
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, a move never recognized by the international community.
Trump’s unilateral recognition broke with decades of international consensus that the city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.
The US leader says he still intends to reach what he has called the “ultimate deal” — Israeli-Palestinian peace — but Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has called his efforts the “slap of the century.”
The Trump administration also hit out at Abbas last week, with UN ambassador Nikki Haley saying he lacked the courage needed for a peace deal.
Erekat likened her comments to a call for a “coup d’etat.”


Drug-related crimes wreak havoc on Egyptian streets

A youth holds a narcotic cigarette in Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 20 min 23 sec ago
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Drug-related crimes wreak havoc on Egyptian streets

  • Al-Saeed claimed that criminals addicted to drugs often “do not know what they are doing,” particularly if, at the time of the crime, their body “needs the drug”

CAIRO: Last week, a drug addict in northern Giza killed four people and injured others following a domestic dispute.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the conductor who left his railcar without switching off its engine to fight with a colleague whose truck was blocking the way, ultimately causing the crash that left more than 25 dead at Cairo’s Ramses Station on Feb. 27, had previously been suspended for drug use.
These are just two examples of an increase in drug-related incidents in Egypt that has prompted President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to introduce a law requiring employers to fire drug users.
The most recent statistics from Egypt’s Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction revealed that 10 percent of Egypt’s over 100 million inhabitants use drugs — twice the global average. Those statistics also revealed that 24 percent of drug users are drivers and 20 percent are manual workers, and that drug use is most prevalent among those in their twenties.
Talking to Arab News, psychiatrist and doctor Salmi Al-Saeed said: “Most of the recent criminal incidents in Egypt, whose causes at first appear to be strange and unnatural, are found to be caused by drug addicts.”
Al-Saeed claimed that criminals addicted to drugs often “do not know what they are doing,” particularly if, at the time of the crime, their body “needs the drug.”
Rifaat Abdel Hamid, a security expert, said that drugs — whether synthetic or natural — can make a person “consider everything is permissible.”
Abdel Hamid said: “People who take drugs commit crimes, (regardless of) whether they are educated or illiterate, rich or poor.”
A spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Nader Saad, said in a press statement on Wednesday that the new law to combat drug use would treat people anonymously, and that they could avoid dismissal from their jobs by seeking help.
Psychiatrist Ahmed Wael said in a statement that treating addiction is “easy” and that it helps the person, and society, “avoid significant damage.”
He said the Egyptian government had taken a positive step, but that further efforts were required, particularly from the ministries of interior and social solidarity, to reduce both supply and demand.
“The Ministry of Social Solidarity needs to reduce demand for drugs by carrying out campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of addiction. There is a need for more rehabilitation centers to manage the crisis,” said Wael, adding that measures also needed to be taken to reduce the amount of drugs entering Egypt.
Sociologist Magda Mustafa said, “Addiction hits all economic classes, rich or poor. The heinous crimes that are caused by addiction are not linked to a specific social category, and this is confirmed by the news of daily crimes.”
Mustafa added that it was incorrect to claim that drug addiction is caused solely by economic and social problems, pointing out that negligence and lack of awareness campaigns from officials, as well as the Al-Azhar Foundation, should also be taken into consideration.