UN Security Council to meet on Egypt; death toll now at 638

Updated 27 August 2013

UN Security Council to meet on Egypt; death toll now at 638

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency briefing on the latest developments in Egypt following the government’s deadly crackdown on supporters of ousted President Muhammad Mursi.
Britain, France and Australia requested the council meeting and the UN spokesman’s office said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will brief the council behind closed doors at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) on Thursday.
UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said they do not expect the council to issue a statement or adopt a resolution on Thursday.
The Egyptian Health Ministry has raised the death toll from the day’s violence that followed a crackdown on two camps housing supporters of the ousted president to 638.
Ministry spokesman Mohammed Fathallah told The Associated Press on Thursday that the number of injured in the previous day’s violence also has risen to 3,994.
Wednesday’s violence began when police moved to clear two protest camps housing mainly Islamist protesters calling for Muhammad Mursi’s reinstatement. The crackdown prompted clashes elsewhere in Cairo and other cities.
Fathallah said 288 of the dead were killed in the larger of the two camps, in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City district.

Police authorized to use deadly force
Amid mixed world reaction over the carnage, Egyptian authorities on Thursday authorized police to use deadly force to protect themselves and key state institutions from attacks, after presumed supporters of the deposed Islamist president torched two local government buildings near the capital in the latest of a series of apparent reprisals to follow a bloody crackdown on their protest camps.
The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of national security, said in a statement that the new measures come after an angry crowd stormed the buildings in Giza, the city next to Cairo that is home to the Pyramids.
“The ministry has given instruction to all forces to use live ammunition to confront any assaults on institutions or the forces,” the statement read.

Attackers set fire to churches and police stations across the country on Wednesday after security forces assaulted two Cairo sit-ins where thousands of supporters of ousted President Muhammad Mursi were camped out. Officials say the death toll is now 578, mostly Mursi supporters, and 4,200 injured.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s military-backed government pledged in a statement to confront “terrorist actions and sabotage” allegedly carried out by members of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood group.
“The Cabinet expressed its determination to confront the terrorist actions and sabotage by elements of the Muslim Brotherhood organization,” it said. “These actions are carried out as part of criminal plan that clearly aims at toppling down the state.”
On Wednesday, the government declared a nationwide state of emergency and a nighttime curfew.
Associated Press reporters witnessed the burning buildings in Giza — a two-story colonial-style villa and a four-story administrative building. The offices are located on the Pyramids Road on the west bank of the River Nile.
State TV blamed Mursi supporters for the fire and broadcast footage showing both structures burning as firemen evacuated employees from the larger building.

Attack on Coptic Christians continue
The Brotherhood website Ikhwanweb said thousands marched through Giza but were attacked by pro-military “militias.” It did not say how the government buildings were set on fire.
In the coastal city of Alexandria, witnesses and a security official said, Mursi supporters stabbed a taxi driver to death for hanging a picture of Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, the leader of the July 3 coup.
“The driver was caught in middle of a protest by the Muslim Brotherhood chanting against the military. He argued with them to watch out, they pulled him out (of his car) and stabbed him,” said Mohammed el-Mashali, a reporter for the Al-Fagr weekly who said he witnessed the killing.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Tamarod, the youth movement that organized mass rallies calling for Mursi’s ouster, said citizens should set up neighborhood watch groups to protect government and private property.
Meanwhile, successive attacks on Coptic Christian churches continued for a second day, according to Egypt’s official news agency and human rights advocates.
Egypt’s MENA agency said Mursi supporters set fire to the Prince Tadros church in the province of Fayoum, nearly 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Cairo.
Ishaq Ibrahim from The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights says his group has documented as many as 39 incidents of violence against churches, monasteries, Coptic schools and shops in different parts of the country on Wednesday.


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 22 January 2020

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”