Abbas talks tough to the US and Hamas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he would take legal measures against Hamas after last week’s assassination attempt on Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. (AP)
Updated 21 March 2018

Abbas talks tough to the US and Hamas

AMMAN: Mahmoud Abbas’s verbal attack against Washington and Hamas in a 14-minute speech on Monday night seemed aimed at self-preservation and securing his legacy.
The Palestinian Authority president upped the ante with Washington, accusing it of shedding “crocodile tears” over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and he called the US ambassador to Israel a “son of a dog.”
But the president, who will be 83 on March 26, has little to lose as he will start to hand power to a new generation at a meeting of the Palestine National Council on April 30.
Abbas said he would take “national, legal and financial measures” against Hamas after last week’s assassination attempt on Rami Hamdallah, his prime minister and head of Palestinian intelligence. He blamed the bomb attack on Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and remains bitterly divided from Abbas’s Fatah movement.
Mohammad Laham, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council from Bethlehem, told Arab News it had become clear that Hamas was involved soon after the attack.
“The visit to Gaza was only known 24 hours earlier and the size of the explosives (30 kg) as well as the choice of the location of the attack, all point that those behind it are not a peripheral group, but a group that is well connected and knowledgeable,” he said.
Abbas’s speech sent a message to the US, which had recently held a meeting in Washington about the humanitarian needs of Gaza. In that meeting, Jason Greenblatt, US envoy to the Middle East, told attendees to “park their politics outside” when discussing Gaza, which is under a long-standing Israeli blockade.
“Unfortunately, we cannot ‘leave politics at the door’ because the crisis in Gaza is a result of right-wing extremist Israeli policies seeping into the rhetoric of the international community,” Dr. Saeb Erekat, PLO secretary general, wrote last week in Newsweek.
The Palestinian president knows that the White House meeting on Gaza was held because Israel is worried about a total collapse in Gaza, as the US plans to cut off millions of dollars in aid to the United Nations Agency Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
It seems that by adding to the pressure on Hamas, the Palestinian leader is hoping for either a capitulation of the Islamic movement or for intervention by Egypt, Israel or a combination of forces in which Ramallah would be eventually called on to keep the peace in Gaza. He appears to be applying the well-known Arab proverb “it needs to get bigger before it gets smaller.”
Abbas may be thinking in terms of his reputation and legacy — many Palestinians feel that he has wasted years trying to appease Israel and the US in search of a compromise.
By attacking Washington, he has thrown the dice, but how will he deal with the chaos that will engulf the Strip if external powers decide not to intervene?

Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019

Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”