Israel bars hundreds of Arab writers and publishers from book fair in Ramallah

Israel bars hundreds of Arab writers and publishers from book fair in Ramallah
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Palestinians visit the 7th International Book Fair in the West Bank town of Bireh near Ramallah. (AFP/file)
Israel bars hundreds of Arab writers and publishers from book fair in Ramallah
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Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, has been convicted by an Israeli court of ‘inciting violence’ after posting her poem on Facebook. (Reuters)
Updated 10 May 2018

Israel bars hundreds of Arab writers and publishers from book fair in Ramallah

Israel bars hundreds of Arab writers and publishers from book fair in Ramallah
  • The International book fair, held under the slogan ‘Jerusalem the Capital of Palestine,’ features 500 Palestinian and Arab publishing houses.
  • Israel’s action amounted to “war against Palestinian culture and the insistence on destroying cultural bridges with Palestinians living under occupation,” says the Jordanian Publishers Association.

AMMAN: Israeli authorities have blocked hundreds of Jordanian and Arab authors from attending the annual Palestine International Book Fair in Ramallah. 

The event, held under the slogan “Jerusalem the Capital of Palestine,” features 500 Palestinian and Arab publishing houses. It was opened by Ehad Bseiso, the Palestinian Culture Minister, on May 3 and runs until Sunday.

The Israeli authorities denied travel permits to authors and publishers despite the fact that their books were shipped to the event and displayed at the book fair.

Nawal Heles, director of the fair at the Ministry of Culture, told Arab News that nearly 300 Arab authors and publishers were denied permits.

She said that in the past they had presented the list of people they wanted to attend to Israeli authorities who then turned down certain individuals, but this year “the entire list of authors and publishers was turned down without a single exception.” 

She said that invitations were sent to writers and publishers from many Arab countries including Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq and countries in the Arabic Gulf.

Heles told Arab News that she had received no explanation from the Israeli side. 

The Jordanian Publishers Association said the Israeli action amounted to “war against Palestinian culture and the insistence on destroying cultural bridges connecting with Palestinians living under occupation.”

Elias Farkouh, a Jordanian novelist and founder of Azmenah publishing house in Amman, told Arab News that he was not surprised by the Israeli action. “Nothing surprises me anymore by this oppressive regime that has no regard for people or for culture.”

The travel ban on Arab publishers comes three days after a Palestinian poet was convicted by an Israeli court of “inciting violence” and “supporting a terrorist organization” for a post on social media that prosecutors claimed incited violence against the occupation.

Nazareth magistrates declared Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, guilty for writing a poem titled “Resist, My People, Resist Them,” which she posted on Facebook.

Israeli prosecutors told the court that the poem incited violence. Tatour’s lawyer Gaby Lasky told the court that the poem had been misinterpreted by Israeli translators, that it was “artistic expression” not a call to violence, and that the charge ran counter to her client’s freedom of expression.

“The verdict violates the right of speech and freedom of expression. It is an infringement on cultural rights of the Palestinian minority inside Israel. It would lead to self-censorship and self-criminalization of poetry.”

Lasky said she would appeal against the verdict. A date for sentencing has not been set.

More than 150 American literary figures have called for Israel to free Tatour, including Pulitzer Prize winners Alice Walker, Claudia Rankine, Naomi Klein and Jacqueline Woodson.

Tatour’s poems appeared in “A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry,” a UK bilingual Arabic and English anthology published in 2017, that presents Palestinian poets.


Shoukry visits Qatar to convey message from El-Sisi

Shoukry visits Qatar to convey message from El-Sisi
Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah (R) meeting with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Doha on June 14, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 12 min 35 sec ago

Shoukry visits Qatar to convey message from El-Sisi

Shoukry visits Qatar to convey message from El-Sisi
  • Shoukry will attend the first meeting of the Palestine Committee

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Doha on Monday to convey a message from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the positive developments in Egyptian-Qatari relations following the signing of the “Al-Ula reconciliation agreement” on Jan. 5.
It also expressed Egypt’s aspiration to take further measures to advance the priority areas of bilateral cooperation to achieve the interests of the two countries and their people.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement that Shoukry will take part during his visit to Doha in the consultative meeting of Arab foreign ministers, which will be held at the invitation of Qatar — the president of the current session of the Council of the Arab League — to resume coordination and consultation on the current situation in the region, and ways to strengthen joint action mechanisms regarding the growing challenges facing Arab countries.

HIGHLIGHT

Shoukry will also participate in the ministerial level extraordinary meeting of the Arab League Council to discuss developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue, which will be held at the request of Egypt and Sudan following the consultative meeting of Arab foreign ministers.

Shoukry will also participate in the ministerial level extraordinary meeting of the Arab League Council to discuss developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue, which will be held at the request of Egypt and Sudan following the consultative meeting of Arab foreign ministers.
He will also attend the first meeting of the Palestine Committee.
A meeting is also scheduled with Shoukry and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.


Palestinians warn new Israel govt ‘will not differ from predecessors’

Palestinians warn new Israel govt ‘will not differ from predecessors’
Palestinian fishermen stage a demonstration at the Gaza seaport against the Israeli authorities’ reduction of the fishing area to six nautical miles. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 min 21 sec ago

Palestinians warn new Israel govt ‘will not differ from predecessors’

Palestinians warn new Israel govt ‘will not differ from predecessors’
  • The occupation is governed by a security and military system that does not stop practicing terrorism and aggression

GAZA CITY: Palestine should not expect a radical change in Israeli policy, especially toward Gaza, following the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership, Palestinian political figures have warned.
However, opinions still differ on the formation of the new Israeli government headed by Natfali Bennett.
Palestinian factions agreed that the new government will not differ from its predecessors.
Osama Hamdi, 33, hailed the departure of Netanyahu as “a great achievement.”
He told Arab News: “The fall of any tyrant, no matter who comes next, should be considered positive, regardless of who will follow in power, even though all Israelis are not doing anything in our favor.”
But Hamdi warned that the new government does not have a strong base in the Knesset and within Israeli society.
Israel’s parliament narrowly approved the new Bennett-led coalition government on Sunday, ending Netanyahu’s historic 12-year rule.
The divisive former prime minister — the longest to ever hold office in Israel — will now serve as opposition leader.
Under a coalition agreement, Bennett will hold office for the first two years of the term, and then Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, the architect of the coalition, will become prime minister.
Mohammed Sultan, 45, said that Netanyahu is a “strong figure” who can reach solutions with Palestinians, but in light of the weak new government, no real breakthrough can be achieved regarding Israel’s relationship with the Gaza Strip.
“Throughout history, strong leaders in Israel have taken bold steps — whether in war or peace — like Rabin, Sharon and Netanyahu. Now there is a government in which there is no real leader, so nothing can be achieved with it,” Sultan said.
Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the area in 2007. The coastal strip has witnessed four wars and a rounds of fighting since then. Hamas does not expect any change in its relationship with Israel following the inauguration of the new government, especially in light of ongoing tensions with Jerusalem, which led to a military confrontation last month.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, said on Twitter: “We do not count on any change in the occupation governments.
“They are united on the policy of killing and confiscation of Palestinian rights, but the fall of Netanyahu is one of the successive consequences of the victory of the resistance.”
Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Salmi said in a press statement: “The occupation is governed by a security and military system that does not stop practicing
terrorism and aggression.
“Therefore, we must always be ready to defend our people, our land and confront this entity.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said: “The formation of a new occupation government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid alternately will not change anything on the ground.
“The new prime minister agrees, in essence, with Netanyahu’s program and policies, which are based on aggression, settlements and Judaization.”
Mustafa Ibrahim, a writer specializing in Israeli affairs, also warned that there would be no real change in Israel’s relationship with the Gaza Strip.
“This government is not a change for the Palestinians,” he told Arab News.
“It is an extension of the Netanyahu government as a result of the contradictions in it. It cannot take fateful decisions, but it will be more concerned with internal Israeli issues.
“The new government will abide by the red lines set by the previous government, that easing the blockade imposed on Gaza is linked to the release of the Israelis in Gaza, and agreement on this requires a strong government and a strong Israeli leader, which is not present in the new government.”
However, Ibrahim said that foreign pressure, especially from the US, “may make a difference in Israel’s relationship with Gaza and could keep the flame of confrontation dormant for a period of time.”


Lebanese trade unions launch general strike to demand new govt

Lebanese trade unions launch general strike to demand new govt
Vehicles are stuck in a traffic jam in Beirut, Lebanon. (File/Reuters)
Updated 29 min 25 sec ago

Lebanese trade unions launch general strike to demand new govt

Lebanese trade unions launch general strike to demand new govt
  • Food industries, bakeries, transport workers and taxi drivers announce support for the move

BEIRUT: Public prosecutors in Lebanon have been instructed to crack down on the monopoly on foodstuffs and oil derivatives as political, security and diplomatic concerns grow over explosive daily protests.

The spontaneous protests are also demanding access to medicine, fuel, hospitalization and electricity.
The Crisis Observatory at the American University of Beirut warned that “the risk of Lebanon falling into the rank of failed states has become a reality after it fell 36 places over five years.” Its rank in 2021 was among the 34 most failed states out of 179 states.
The Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation, Judge Ghassan Oueidat, on Monday called on public prosecutors in Lebanon to “strictly pursue the monopoly of foodstuffs and oil derivatives, after there has been a lot of refraining from selling these subsidized materials, or selling them at prices that exceed the set price.”
Judge Oueidat said that what is happening “are crimes stipulated by law and must be prosecuted, and shops, warehouses and stations belonging to the suspects must be sealed with red wax.”
The judicial procedure came as trade unions and civil bodies prepare for a general strike that begins on Thursday to push for the formation of a government.
On Monday, unions of food industries, bakeries, transport workers and taxi drivers announced that they would respond to Thursday’s strike.
Bechara Al-Asmar, head of the General Labor Union, told Arab News: “Our move will be escalatory. I don’t know if the strike will last more than a day; we will see what happens Thursday.”
On the possibility of controlling the street in light of the current mood, Al-Asmar said: “Today, the prices of dairy and cheese have increased by 40 percent without anyone being held accountable.”
He added: “The argument for raising prices was electricity rationing and the difficulty of obtaining diesel to run private generators.
“In this case, we must raise our voices. We cannot remain silent about this chaos that is taking place in the absence of any executive reference in the country.
“There is a positive response from unions and civil society to Thursday’s move through carrying out central sit-ins so as not to easily breach them and turn them into riots or chaos.
“I know that there are caveats, but we must raise our voices,” Al-Asmar said.
The union chief added: “If they form a government before Thursday, we will stop our movements.”

FASTFACT

The Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation, Judge Ghassan Oueidat, called on public prosecutors in Lebanon to ‘strictly pursue the monopoly of foodstuffs and oil derivatives, after there has been a lot of refraining from selling these subsidized materials, or selling them at prices that exceed the set price.’

In the Observatory report — obtained by Arab News on Monday — the caretaker government came under criticism for dealing in “an amateur way in negotiations with international bodies and donor funds.”
The observatory feared that “the government’s handling of multiple crises has become a threat to the lives of citizens.”
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is mediating between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and his political opponent, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, to find solutions for the formation of a government.
The mediation, which has been going on for two weeks, has not yet succeeded.
Last Saturday, a meeting of the Supreme Islamic Shariah Council, on behalf of the Sunni community, expressed strong support for Hariri, declaring him the first and last candidate to head the government.
Berri and Hezbollah support the designation of Hariri as prime minister, according to their declared position.
In a statement on Monday, the Amal Movement, headed by Berri, indirectly criticized the presidential team, which insists on naming Christian ministers and having the blocking third in the government.
The statement spoke of “some people persisting in violating the constitutional rules by trying to create new norms that affect the foundations of national balances and the foundations established by the Taif Agreement.”
The Lady of the Mountain Gathering, which is a political group opposed to the policies of Hezbollah and its allies, said that Hezbollah “does not want a government. Otherwise it would have imposed a government on Lebanon. It is carrying out Iranian orders.” Meanwhile, the head of the finance and budget committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, reported that the World Bank had “expressed willingness to reconsider allocating $1 billion of its loans in accordance with the urgent needs of Lebanon. They can be used in the context of addressing subsidy lifting or rationalization, i.e. the social safety net will have an executive path that ranges between three and six months, in accordance with the response of the Lebanese government.”
The MP’s remarks came after a review session of unimplemented loans with the World Bank.The dollar exchange rate on the black market stabilized at the beginning of the week at a new record level, in light of the citizens’ distrust of the political and monetary authority.
The US dollar was traded at about LBP15,000, while the rush for fuel continued.
Queues of cars waited in front of gas stations in Beirut and most areas because importers reassured “that the quantities supplied as of Monday will be sufficient for the next two weeks, and they are rationed to limit smuggling to Syria and to prolong subsidy.”
The observatory report cited a growing set of indicators in Lebanon. They included “the security threat and political violence, the division of elites and political groups, the economic decline, the loss of state legitimacy, the increase in foreign interference, the deterioration of the human rights situation and the rule of law, and displacement, especially after the explosion of the port of Beirut.”
The observatory warned that “the political class deals with all living issues from the perspective of its narrow accounts and interests.”
It said the caretaker government’s reluctance to take proactive measures had exacerbated the collapse. “The government’s policy has no policy anymore.”
The observatory noted that “the ministers of the caretaker government do not seem interested in addressing the Lebanese and explaining anything related to their food, health or living security.”
It added that certain employees of the Banque du Liban (BDL) and other institutions “are the ones who determine all policies, without the slightest accountability or coordination.”
The observatory said that “the caretaker government deals with the situation in an amateur way in negotiations with international bodies and donor funds, so the signing of the agreement with the World Bank (WB) to finance the social safety net program is delayed by seven months after the approval of the WB’s board of directors on the loan, while the Lebanese poor are in dire need of immediate support.
“This government also seems incapable of dealing with issues of monopoly and smuggling, and the resulting bleeding in times of scarcity,” it said.


Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough
Updated 15 June 2021

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough
BRUSSELS: US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sounded upbeat after their first face-to-face talks on Monday, although they did not announce major breakthroughs in the relationship between the two allies, at odds over Russian weapons, Syria, Libya and other issues.
“We had a positive and productive meeting, much of it one-on-one,” Biden told a news conference after their meeting in Brussels.
“Our teams are going to continue our discussions and I’m confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey and the United States,” he added.
Erdogan characterised his talks with Biden on the sidelines of a NATO summit as “productive and sincere.”
“We think that there are no issues between US and Turkey relationship that are unsolvable and that areas of cooperation for us are richer and larger than problems,” he said.
Despite their publicly optimistic tone, neither provided any details on how exactly they would mend the relationship or lay out steps that would help ease tensions between the NATO allies.
Turkey, with NATO’s second-largest military, has angered its allies in the Western military alliance by buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and intervening in wars in Syria and Libya. It is also in a standoff with Greece and Cyprus over territory in the Eastern Mediterranean.
As president, Biden has adopted a cooler tone than predecessor Donald Trump toward Erdogan. Biden quickly recognized the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide — a position that angers Turkey — and stepped up criticism of Turkey’s human rights record.
Washington has already removed Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program and imposed sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
One area where Erdogan hoped to showcase a central Turkish role in NATO is Afghanistan, where Ankara has offered to guard and operate Kabul airport after US and NATO forces withdraw in coming weeks. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey would play a key role but that no decision was made at the Monday summit.
At the start of the main leaders’ session at NATO, Biden spoke to Erdogan at length in a small group before they took their seats.
Later in the day, the two leaders and their top aides sat mostly silently on opposite sides of a conference table, ignoring questions shouted to them by journalists briefly invited into the room.
Erdogan also met French President Emmanuel Macron. Ankara and Paris have been at odds over Syria, Libya and Turkish criticism of the fight against what Macron calls Islamist separatism, among other issues.
“President Erdogan confirmed during our meeting his wish that the foreign mercenaries, the foreign militias, operating on Libyan soil leave as soon as possible,” Macron told a news conference afterwards.

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib
Updated 15 June 2021

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib