Palestinian cabinet convenes in Gaza in move to reconcile with Hamas

A convoy transporting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah and his delegation makes it way to the Gaza Strip, at the Erez crossing in southern Israel October 2, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 03 October 2017

Palestinian cabinet convenes in Gaza in move to reconcile with Hamas

GAZA: Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah on Tuesday chaired the first meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in Gaza for three years in a move toward reconciliation between the mainstream Fatah party and Islamist group Hamas.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in fighting with Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and has ruled the impoverished desert enclave of two million people since then.
The cabinet session was the first in Gaza since 2014, Hamdallah told his ministers, and a major step in a reconciliation process promoted by neighboring Egypt and other US-allied Arab countries.
“Today, we stand before an important, historical moment as we begin to get over our wounds, put our differences aside and place the higher national interest above all else,” he said.
Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel and the West, last month disbanded its Gaza shadow government after Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed an economic boycott on its main donor, Qatar.
But while Hamas handed over administrative responsibilities to a unity government originally formed three years ago, its armed wing remains the dominant force in Gaza.
“We understand that returning official institutions to their legitimate and legal framework and ending all the impacts of division will require exhausting efforts and a lot of patience, of time and of wisdom,” he said.
Abbas told Egyptian TV station CBC on Monday there could be only “one state, one regime, one law and one weapon” in the Gaza Strip, reiterating a long-held position that security should only be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Abbas is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and heads the PA government that administers limited self rule in the territory.
A PA spokesman said Abbas would not lift sanctions on Gaza at this stage but rather await the outcome of talks planned between Fatah and Hamas in the next two weeks.
Pressuring Hamas to loosen its grip on Gaza, he halted payments for Israeli-supplied electricity to the enclave in June, a step that has led to lengthy, daily blackouts. He also withheld salaries for Gaza civil servants.
“Everything must be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, it must be the one to control the crossing points (in and out of Gaza),” he said. Both Israel and Egypt maintain a partial blockade of Gaza, citing security concerns.
Under previous understandings, some 3,000 Fatah security men would be integrated gradually into a Gaza police force overseen by an Interior Ministry headed by Hamdallah. Hamas’s armed wing, analysts say, has at least 25,000 well-equipped fighters.
The United States, which is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that collapsed in 2014, is watching developments closely with the aim of improving humanitarian conditions in Gaza, Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, said on Twitter.
But Greenblatt said: “The United States stresses that any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations.”
Hamas has long rejected those conditions.

A day at the races: Stylish guests wow at the Saudi Cup

Entrepreneur and influencer Pierette Yammine showed off a regal, ice blue number by Dubai-based label Baruni Fashion. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)
Updated 2 min 35 sec ago

A day at the races: Stylish guests wow at the Saudi Cup

RIYADH: All eyes were on Saudi Arabia as the world’s most valuable horse race kicked off over the weekend — and there was something for everyone, including fashion fans.

Style-lovers descended on the Saudi Cup in Riyadh wearing their race day best, with women giving Audrey Hepburn’s character in Hollywood classic “My Fair Lady” a run for her money with their chic abayas and colorful dresses.

Stylish racing gear was on full display in the form of an array of creative headpieces flaunted by some women in the Red Sea Pavilion.

Arab News caught up with Evelyn McDermott, founder of the Evelyn McDermott Millinery, which was the exclusive milliner for the Saudi Cup and had a dedicated booth for those who wanted to pick up a last-minute headpiece.

Milliner Evelyn McDermott (right) boasted a dark green jumpsuit with a signature headpiece. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)

“My brand is a Dubai-born brand and I’ve been making the hats for about seven to eight years now, she said, before adding, “it’s been the most phenomenal thing ever to be invited here to Saudi Arabia (and) to be the exclusive milliner to the Saudi Cup has just been so wonderful. I mean the first ever Saudi Cup makes it an experience that can never be repeated so it’s been fantastic.”

For her part, McDermott capitalized on one of the style trends of the day — wearing green.

The designer donned a jade green jumpsuit with dramatic tulip sleeves in translucent chiffon and finished off her out-there outfit with a matching head wrap — a fresh take on typical race day headpieces and the feathered looks preferred by many other women at the event.

Green seemed to be a popular color, with many style conscious race goers donning various shades of the hue.

Michele Fischer, who flew into the Kingdom from the US, showed off an embroidered blue abaya, complete with tribal designs in white threadwork. Underneath, she boasted a fern green cocktail dress by Ralph Lauren and topped off the look with an ash-and-ebony feathered headpiece by Australian milliner Sonlia Fashion.

Michele Fischer showed off a fern green number. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)

Fischer told Arab News she handpicked the dark green dress in order to pay tribute to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur and influencer Pierette Yammine showed off a regal, ice blue number by Dubai-based label Baruni Fashion, which is helmed by former petroleum engineer-turned-designer Fadwa Baruni.

Entrepreneur Pierette Yammine showed off a regal, ice blue number by Dubai-based label Baruni Fashion. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)

Yammine accessorized the floor-grazing gown, with it’s textured cuffed sleeves and sash at the waist, with a demure white Longines watch and an attention-grabbing caramel-colored floral headpiece with wispy filaments that played in the breeze.

Attendee Liz Price followed suit and opted for a gorgeous, crinkled headpiece that resembled piled up gardenias atop her sleek hairdo. The cream-colored piece was designed by London-based milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan, whose hats are favored by Queen Elizabeth II.

Liz Price's The cream-colored piece was designed by London-based milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan. (Arab News)