Arab FMs meet to discuss US decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Arab League foreign ministers hold an emergency meeting on US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
Updated 02 February 2018
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Arab FMs meet to discuss US decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

CAIRO: The Arab League Council, chaired by Djibouti Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Ali Yusuf, held an emergency meeting in Cairo to discuss the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The meeting was attended by Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Arab foreign ministers or their representatives, with the Saudi Arabian delegation led by Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubair.
The meeting aimed to discuss the repercussions of President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem and implement the Arab League’s ministerial resolution on Sept. 9, 2017, which stipulated that the council should be resumed within a month to evaluate the situation and agree on future measures.
In his address to the opening session, Aboul Gheit warned that the attack on the city of Jerusalem would not be accepted by Arabs, Muslims or Christians, and would push the region into an abyss of religious conflict, violence and terrorism.
“Our meeting today, a few weeks after our last meeting, is a message that will reach those who are interested in the Arab position and will show that we stand united in the face of any attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause with the final status issues,” the Arab League secretary-general said.
He added: “This message will show that we have a unified voice and that our common Arab position on the issue of Jerusalem has become clear to all. It was included in resolution 8221, issued on Dec. 9 last year.”
Aboul Gheit said that the meeting represented an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation. He also shed light on the international momentum achieved, starting with the 128-member vote to reject the US decision at the UN General Assembly and more recently the positive European position announced on Jan. 22.
He said this represented a platform that “can and should be built upon by expanding the circle of countries that reject Trump’s decision, developing their positions and mobilizing them to support the recognition of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Aboul Gheit said that there were indications that this was not about the Jerusalem file alone, but about the US position on all the final-status issues and on its commitment to the two-state solution as a formula for ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We have followed with great concern the US decision to reduce its annual funding toward United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) budget by $65 million. The US share represents one third of the agency’s budget, which represents a threat to the refugee issue.”
Aboul Gheit said that the refugee issue, like the Jerusalem issue, had been agreed as part of the final-status issues that could not be forfeited, fragmented or liquidated, adding that international moral responsibility for the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees has been established since 1948 and there was no possibility of disengaging from their obligations.
The Foreign Minister of Djibouti called on Arab countries to take decisive steps at this critical juncture in the Palestinian issue and to confront situations that threatened the rights of the Palestinian situation regarding Jerusalem.
“The Arab League Council is mandated to carry out its historical responsibilities in the face of this challenge that threatens the existence of a Palestinian state,” he said, stressing that the US decision to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem and recognize it as the capital of Israel violated international resolutions.
He said that the US administration was determined to proceed with its blatant bias toward the occupation, not only through its decision to announce the transfer of the embassy before the end of next year to Jerusalem, but by announcing a series of other punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority and by reducing its contribution to the UNRWA budget.
Ministers also discussed the possibility of holding an extraordinary Arab summit in Jordan.


The academic fighting to stop Lebanon’s brain drain

MUSTAPHA JAZAR
Updated 16 min 22 sec ago
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The academic fighting to stop Lebanon’s brain drain

LONDON: Lebanese professor Mustapha Jazar has made it his life’s work to help connect students to the jobs they deserve.
While Lebanon has long produced highly educated students, this promising pipeline is badly affected by a lack of matching job opportunities.
Jazar set up the Lebanese Association for Scientific Research (LASeR) 10 years ago to “try to help the students through their journey from school to the job market.”
“The government itself isn’t doing anything about it,” Jazar said.
LASeR is a research-driven nongovernmental organization (NGO) that focuses on selecting candidates to pursue work-orientated research programs.
Through the undertaking of specific research initiatives, the students are trained in areas that will have a positive impact on Lebanon’s socio-economic condition, and can acquire skills that will improve their employability.
Jazar says: “I’m a true believer in research. Throughout my life I have been a researcher and I’ve tried to find funds to do research; for myself, for my students and my colleagues. Then one day I had the idea to create an NGO to mobilize the benefits of research in a more systematic way.”
For the first five years, LASeR was focused on university professors but the NGO has since shifted its focus to undergraduates. The program now takes in about 150 students annually.
Jazar says: “LASeR’s programs include a mix of capacity-building, soft skills and advanced technical skills according to their major. The aim is that students will be better equipped for the job market at the end of three years of university.”
The framework is called “E2C: Education To Community.” It has three modules: Media to Community, Health to Community and the soon-to-be launched Engineering to Community.
“The idea is to take a bunch of students nearing graduation in their third year of study, call them to apply, and then enroll them in a competition-based experience for three to four months where we deliver training. At the end, they have to deliver a product,” Jazar said.
He said that previous projects have included society-wide health-awareness campaigns and public-technology solutions.
At the end of the training period, a jury assesses the outcome of each group and gives a grade, along with the public’s assessment.
Jazar said: “In this way, they will learn the basics of how to deliver an awareness campaign and how to run a budget. If they need specific training, we will find a senior or alumni to deliver the training. Every team has a mentor. In the media group, most of the students have already found jobs.”
Jazar said LASeR was funded by donations and corporate sponsorship. The NGO relies heavily on volunteer expertise from corporates and within the university.
Local enrollment at Lebanese universities is exceptionally high — at about 50 percent — but the country’s small size and job pipeline inefficiencies mean career opportunities are limited.
“Lebanon is educating many highly skilled people but they are going abroad to work in the Gulf, Canada, Europe or the US,” Jazar said.
“We are facing a real problem, especially in research. Jobs are becoming competitive. Right now, we are nearing saturation. We will be observing brain 
drain soon.”
In 2018, 4,000 students graduated in engineering, which is a huge number for a country that has a population of four million, he says.
“We do believe that there will be a scarcity of job offers, but what is also lacking in Lebanon is self-employment, start-ups and initiatives led by young people, especially in coding,” Jazar said.
Through LASeR, Jazar aims to create a framework that cherry-picks the best talents from society and focuses these talents on addressing Lebanon’s biggest issues and opportunities.
“We believe there’s a huge amount of social problems that need to be addressed. We aim to raise awareness about our society and the environment with our students.
“We are training our students to look for problems and come up with solutions that will make money for their livelihoods — and for the betterment of Lebanon.”