Palestine to dissolve Legislative Council and hold elections in six months

Palestine to dissolve Legislative Council and hold elections in six months
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prays at the start of a meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 24 December 2018

Palestine to dissolve Legislative Council and hold elections in six months

Palestine to dissolve Legislative Council and hold elections in six months
  • ‘The pronouncement of the Palestinian constitutional court is a political decision not a legal one’

AMMAN: President Mahmoud Abbas told Palestinian leaders on Saturday in Ramallah “that a decree has been issued by the Palestinian Constitutional Court dissolving the Palestine Legislative Council,” the official Wafa news agency said. 

Abbas “is committed to the Court’s decree, which also calls for holding legislative elections in six months,” it said.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, said on Sunday that the recent Constitutional Court’s decision that dissolved the Palestine Legislative Council goes hand in hand with efforts of transition from the period of the Palestinian Authority to the State of Palestine period.

But he went one step further than Abbas calling for presidential elections as well. Wafa news agency reported that Erekat called for “holding general elections for a constituent assembly of the State of Palestine, as well as presidential elections.”

Anis F. Kassim, editor of the Palestine Yearbook of International Law, told Arab News that the pronouncement of the Palestinian Constitutional Court is a political decision not a legal one. “It reflects a political move aimed at supporting the aspiration of President Abbas.” Kassim says that Palestinian leadership “has lost it way” by pushing for such a decision reflects “the rule by law rather than the rule of law.”

Majed Arruri, director of the Istiklal Institute for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law based in Ramallah, told Arab News that the Constitutional Court’s decision has nothing to do with the Palestinian Basic Law. 

According to Arruri the decision is a clever one because those who were behind it are only interested in the dissolving of the dormant Palestinian Legislative Council and not necessarily in holding elections in six months. Palestine has no constitution and has been run since the 1993 Oslo Accords by the 1995 Basic Law which has been amended a number of times. The Basic Law stipulates that if the president is unable to carry out his duty then the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council will take over for 60 days until presidential elections take place. The last speaker of the PLC, Aziz Dweik supports the Hamas movement, Abbas’s Fatah’s movements current political opponent

A major problem with holding elections is the question of Gaza. The Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza issued a strong statement Sunday criticizing President Abbas. “The decision of (President Mahmoud) Abbas deepens the internal Palestinian division and destroys the Palestinian political system,” said Yehya Musa, a senior Hamas leader and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Hazem Kawasmi, a Jerusalem resident, who runs the Palestinian Municipal Development and Lending Fund told Arab News that he is in favor of legislative elections “if Jerusalemites are allowed to participate.” In the 2006 elections Palestinians from Jerusalem participated both as candidates and as voters.

Khalil Abu Arafeh the former minister of Jerusalem affairs after the 2006 election victory of Hamas told Arab News that the decision of President Abbas will cause unity damage. Abu Arafeh also questions whether the court can rule on matters that have to do with elections. 

“It is not part of the mandate of the court to decide on elections and to set a time line for it. I believe that the decision by Mr. Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the one institution that reflected the diversity of Palestinians is a reflection of a true crisis by the Palestinian Authority which is trying to negate any relations between Hamas and the West Bank as a forerunner to the separation of Gaza from the West Bank.”

Anees Seidan, head of Arab Affairs department in the PLO, told Arab News that the dissolving of the legislature is way overdue. “It is a healthy decision to revive parliamentary political life through the electoral process that will allow new blood to be pumped into Palestinian life.”


Iran says it produced 6.5 kg of uranium enriched to 60%

Iran says it produced 6.5 kg of uranium enriched to 60%
Updated 15 June 2021

Iran says it produced 6.5 kg of uranium enriched to 60%

Iran says it produced 6.5 kg of uranium enriched to 60%
  • Government spokesman said the country had also produced 108 kg of uranium enriched to 20% purity
  • Tuesday's disclosure came as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks in Vienna over the nuclear deal

DUBAI: Iran has made 6.5 kg (14 lb) of uranium enriched to up to 60%, the government said on Tuesday, detailing a move that rattled the country's nuclear talks with world powers by taking the fissile material a step towards nuclear weapons-grade of 90%.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted by state media as saying the country had also produced 108 kg of uranium enriched to 20% purity, indicating quicker output than the rate required by the Iranian law that created the process.
Iran said in April it would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move that would take the uranium much closer to the 90% suitable for a nuclear bomb, after Tehran accused arch-foe Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear site.
Tuesday's disclosure came as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks in Vienna aimed at finding ways to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Iran’s hardline parliament passed a law last year to oblige the government to harden its nuclear stance, partly in reaction to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.
Trump’s withdrawal prompted Iran to steadily overstep the accord’s limits on its nuclear programme designed to make it harder to develop an atomic bomb - an ambition Tehran denies.
"Under parliament's law..., the Atomic Energy Organization was supposed to produce 120 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium in a year. According to the latest report, we now have produced 108 kg of 20% uranium in the past five months," Rabiei was quoted as saying.
"In the area of 60% uranium production, in the short time that has elapsed..., about 6.5 kg has been produced," Rabiei added.
A quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in May said that, as of May 22, Tehran had produced 62.8 kg of uranium enriched up to 20%, and 2.4 kg of uranium enriched up to 60%, with the next level down being enriched to between 2% and 5%.


Rights groups urge UN probe mission for Beirut port blast

Rights groups urge UN probe mission for Beirut port blast
Updated 15 June 2021

Rights groups urge UN probe mission for Beirut port blast

Rights groups urge UN probe mission for Beirut port blast
  • Human Rights Watch said the call was made in a joint letter by over a hundred Lebanese, regional, and international groups, individuals and survivors and families of the victims

BEIRUT: A group of international and regional rights groups on Tuesday urged member states of the UN Human Rights Council to establish an investigative mission into last year’s massive deadly blast at Beirut’s port.
Human Rights Watch said the call was made in a joint letter by 53 Lebanese, regional, and international groups and individuals, as well as 62 survivors and families of the victims.
HRW said it documented many flaws in the domestic investigation of the explosion — including flagrant political interference, lack of respect for fair trial standards and violations of due process.
Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate — a highly explosive material used in fertilizers — had been improperly stored in the port for years. The chemicals ignited in the catastrophic Aug. 4 blast that killed 211 people, injured more than 6,000 and damaged entire neighborhoods.
It still remains unknown what triggered an initial fire at the warehouse that then caused the explosion and who was responsible for storing the rotting fertilizer there since 2014.
“Lebanese authorities have had over 10 months to demonstrate that they are willing and capable of conducting a credible investigation,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But they have failed on all accounts,”
Six days after the blast, the Lebanese government referred the Beirut explosion to the country’s Judicial Council, a special court with no appeals process. No indictments have been issued so far.
In December, the prosecutor probing the blast filed charges against the caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, and three former ministers, accusing them of negligence that led to the deaths of hundreds of people.
Two months later, the judge in the probe was replaced following legal challenges by two former Cabinet ministers he had accused of negligence.


New Israel government faces early test with far-right march

New Israel government faces early test with far-right march
Updated 15 June 2021

New Israel government faces early test with far-right march

New Israel government faces early test with far-right march
  • Jewish ultranationalists prepared to march into annexed east Jerusalem
  • Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned it as a provocation

JERUSALEM: Israel’s fledgling new government faced an early test Tuesday as Jewish ultranationalists prepared to march into annexed east Jerusalem, stoking tensions the UN has warned threaten a fragile Gaza cease-fire.
Rallies by far-right Jewish groups in Arab neighborhoods have raised tensions in recent months, prompting a police intervention in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound that triggered the deadliest flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence since 2014.
The so-called March of the Flags, which celebrates the anniversary of Israel’s 1967 occupation of the city’s eastern sector, was originally scheduled for last Thursday but was delayed due to Israeli police opposition to the route and warnings from Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
The former government of veteran premier Benjamin Netanyahu put off the march until Tuesday, a decision confirmed late Monday by the incoming government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“The right to demonstrate is a right in all democracies,” said Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev.
“The police is ready and we will do everything in our power to preserve the delicate thread of coexistence.”
Organizers consulted police on the best route for the march that begins at 1430 GMT to avoid friction with Arab residents, the government said.
But Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned it as a provocation.
“We warn of the dangerous repercussions that may result from the occupying power’s intention to allow extremist Israeli settlers to carry out the Flag March in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow,” Shtayyeh tweeted in English.
He said it was “a provocation and aggression against our people, Jerusalem and its sanctities that must end.”
The new Israeli premier is himself a Jewish nationalist but the coalition he leads also includes centrist and left-wing parties and, for the first time in the country’s history, an Arab party.
The support of the four lawmakers of the Islamic conservative Raam party was vital to the wafer-thin majority that the government won in a historic confidence vote that unseated Netanyahu on Sunday.
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland urged all sides to behave responsibly to avoid damage to a hard-won May 21 cease-fire that ended 11 days of heavy fighting in and around Gaza.
“Tensions are rising again in Jerusalem at a very fragile & sensitive security & political time, when UN & Egypt are actively engaged in solidifying the cease-fire,” Wennesland said.
“Urge all relevant parties to act responsibly & avoid any provocations that could lead to another round of confrontation.”
The US embassy called on its staff to avoid entering the walled Old City in the heart of east Jerusalem because of the march and “possible counter-demonstrations.”
Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem since the Six-Day War of 1967 is not recognized by most of the international community which says the city’s final status should be a matter of negotiation between the two sides.
The Palestinians claim the city’s eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
The iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the heart of the Old City is Islam’s third holiest site and a national symbol for all Palestinians regardless of religion.
It is also considered by Jews to be Judaism’s holiest site but by longstanding convention Jews are not allowed to pray inside the compound and visits by Israeli Jewish politicians often trigger disturbances.
When the march was originally announced for last week, senior Hamas official Khalil Hayya warned it could spark a return to violence like that of May 10-21.
“We warn the occupation (Israel) against letting the march approach east Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound,” Hayya said.
“We hope the message is clear so that Thursday doesn’t become (a new) May 10.”
Last month’s conflict started after Hamas issued a deadline for Israel to remove its security forces from flashpoint areas of east Jerusalem, and then fired a salvo of rockets at Israel when the ultimatum went unheeded.
Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip between May 10 to 21 killed 260 Palestinians including some fighters, the Gaza authorities said.
In Israel, 13 people were killed, including a soldier, by rockets fired from Gaza, the Israeli police and army said.


UAE imposes new COVID-19 measures for charter flight passengers from India and Pakistan

UAE imposes new COVID-19 measures for charter flight passengers from India and Pakistan
Updated 15 June 2021

UAE imposes new COVID-19 measures for charter flight passengers from India and Pakistan

UAE imposes new COVID-19 measures for charter flight passengers from India and Pakistan
  • Passengers must wear tracking devices for a minimum of 10 days in a new circular from the General Civil Aviation Authority
  • Those who arrived in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaimah, have already been given the devices

DUBAI: The UAE has imposed new coronavirus measures for charter flights arriving from countries including India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Nepal and Uganda.
Passengers must wear tracking devices for a minimum of 10 days in a new circular from the General Civil Aviation Authority.
Those who arrived in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaimah, have already been given the devices, travel agencies and charter flight operators confirmed, local daily Khaleej Times reported.
Abu Dhabi has also been requiring arriving passengers to wear the devices during their 14-day home quarantine, since September of 2020.
Arrivals must also take a PCR test after landing in the country followed by two other PCR tests on the fourth and eighth day of their isolation period.
In Dubai, travelers have to isolate for 10 days and undergo a PCR test, Raheesh Babu, group COO of Musafir.com, an internet travel agency, said.
Crew members operating from the listed countries are also required to abide by the new regulations.
Passengers must also quarantine in a hotel during the transit period, and are only allowed movement when transferring between the hotel and the airport, without being in contact with people in the UAE community, the circular said.


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 15 June 2021

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.