Palestinian government meets in Gaza for first time since 2014

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrives to attend a cabinet meeting in Gaza City on October 3, 2017. The Palestinian reconciliation government met in Gaza for the first time since 2014 as moves intensify to end the decade-old rift between the main political factions. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
Updated 03 October 2017

Palestinian government meets in Gaza for first time since 2014

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian cabinet met in Gaza on Tuesday for the first time since 2014 in a further step toward the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority (PA) retaking control of the territory.
In an opening speech, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah renewed his pledge to end a decade-long split between the Islamist Hamas movement that controls Gaza and his West Bank-based government.
“We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the (Palestinian) state,” he said.
The session took place at the official Gaza residence of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the cabinet office, hung with portraits of Abbas and historic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
It was the first meeting of the cabinet in Gaza since November 2014, although Hamdallah visited a year later without his ministers.
Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza after bloody street fighting in 2007, but finally agreed last month to its return, under pressure from the territory’s powerful neighbor Egypt.
A visiting Egyptian official told AFP that his country’s intelligence chief, Khaled Fawzi, was expected to meet Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in Gaza later on Thursday.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Monday that he was “carefully optimistic” about the reconciliation talks.
“If the region stays engaged, if Egypt’s role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are currently showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed,” he told AFP.


Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

Updated 27 min 44 sec ago

Gulf countries announce measures to cut links with Iran as coronavirus cases rise in Middle East

  • The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran
  • Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday

DUBAI: Gulf countries announced new measures on Tuesday to cut links with Iran to prevent coronavirus spreading after the confirmation of 20 new cases, all of them people returning from the Islamic republic.

The UAE suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran after Kuwait and Bahrain announced the additional cases of COVID-19.

Over the past two days, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have reported 29 cases of the novel coronavirus among people returning from pilgrimages to Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak outside China and where the death toll has reached 16.

Bahrain also announced 15 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number affected in the kingdom to 23 — including six Saudi women — after some of the people had returned from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority “suspended all passenger flights and cargo to and from Iran starting today and for one week,” a statement carried by the official WAM news agency said, adding that the ban could be extended.

Also on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed tweeted that the UAE was ready to provide all forms of support to help China combat the spread of the virus.

Shortly after, the Bahraini authorities said citizens were banned from traveling to Iran “until further notice.”

In neighboring Kuwait, three new cases were recorded among Kuwaiti men who had been under quarantine after returning from Iran.

Oman, which on Monday reported its first cases of coronavirus in two Omani women who had returned from Iran, reported an additional two cases.

Muscat was making arrangements to bring back its citizens from the Islamic republic, the foreign ministry said, a day after it suspended all flights to and from Iran.

Oman also announced that it will suspend the import and export of goods from Iran from Wednesday.

The three countries have large Shiite Muslim populations who frequently travel to Iran to visit holy shrines.

The UAE has already announced 13 coronavirus cases, all foreigners, including an Iranian couple who had traveled from Iran.

Kuwait has canceled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday and also scrapped all sports events to counter the spread of the disease.