Egypt militant returned from Libya back on trial: media

An image grab taken from state-run television station Al-Masriya on May 29, 2019 shows Hisham Al-Ashmawy escorted by members from Egypt’s intelligence service. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Egypt militant returned from Libya back on trial: media

  • Hisham Al-Ashmawy’s retrial was being held in a military court
  • He is ‘accused of carrying out terror operations against the army, police forces and civilians’

CAIRO: An Egyptian militant captured in Libya and returned to Cairo was put on trial again Tuesday over five terror attacks, including one for which he has already received a death sentence in absentia, according to local media.
Hisham Al-Ashmawy — one of the country’s most-wanted militants — “is accused of carrying out terror operations against the army, police forces and civilians” killing 54 people in total, news website Ahram reported.
His retrial was being held in a military court, the site said.
He was sentenced to death in 2017 in absentia by an Egyptian military court over his involvement in attacking and killing soldiers at a checkpoint near the porous border with Libya.
Authorities have also linked Ashmawy with high-profile attacks including a 2013 assassination attempt on then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the 2015 killing of a top public prosecutor.
The militant was flown back to Cairo in May, after being handed over by Libyan National Army chief Khalifa Haftar whose forces captured him in 2018 in the eastern city of Derna.
Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, seized the city of Derna last summer. His forces are backed in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
A former officer with Egypt’s special forces, Ashmawy was dismissed in 2012 over concerns about his religious views.
He joined the Sinai-based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis but broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the Daesh group in November 2014.
Known by his nom de guerre “Abu Omar Al-MuHajjir,” Ashmawy announced the formation of an Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Mourabitoun in Libya in July 2015.
He is also accused of being behind attacks in Egypt’s Western Desert region.


PLO expects less overt racism from a Gantz administration

Updated 20 September 2019

PLO expects less overt racism from a Gantz administration

  • Retired general Benny Gantz is contesting the Israeli leadership from PM Benjamin Netanyahu

AMMAN, Jordan: A senior PLO official told Arab News that no substantive difference will occur with a possible Benny Gantz administration in Israel but “it will most likely have less overt racism.”

PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi noted that the head of the Blue and White party in Israel has not shown any significant interest in a major change of policy toward Palestinians. “Given the fact that he competed with (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu on who has been tougher with Palestinians and he didn’t oppose Netanyahu’s threat to annex the Jordan Valley, I don’t expect any serious change on the ground and for sure no change in regards to Jerusalem.”

On the other hand, Riyad Al-Maliki the Palestinian foreign minister called on the world community to engage with the “golden opportunity” for peace being offered by Palestinians saying president Mahmoud Abbas offers to negotiate with any new head of state in Israel. “We respect the results of Israel’s democratic elections and we are willing to sit with whoever establishes a new government to renew peace negotiations,”
Al-Maliki said.

The head of Palestinian diplomacy continued in a statement issued in Oslo on behalf of the Palestinian president saying that “this is a strong and clear statement to the Israeli society and the international community that the Palestinian leadership is ready for talks with the other side and that this is a reassurance that we have never rejected any chance for negotiations, a position that president Abbas assured US President Donald Trump in his four meetings with the American leader.”

SPEEDREAD

The head of the Blue and White party in Israel has not shown any significant interest in a major change of policy toward Palestinians.

While awaiting the Israeli response to this Palestinian peace overture, Ashrawi predicted, that a Benny Gantz administration might have a softer public stand regarding Palestinians.  “I expect less overt racism and violent military rhetoric from him,” she said.

The senior Palestinian official at the same time also expected that some small “living conditions” changes could occur if the opponent of Netanyahu became prime minister. “We are realistic and therefore we don’t expect an epiphany or an about-turn, nor do we expect a full commitment to a just peace, but it is possible that a different government in Israel might carry certain steps to ease pressure on Palestinians.”

The recent period has seen a major escalation by the Netanyahu government both verbally and in policy toward Palestinians and the Palestinian government. 

Ashrawi expects that the Israeli policymakers are aware of how “volatile” the situation has become under Netanyahu in recent years. Ashrawi told Arab News that a new Israeli government might want “to defuse this volatility” and make certain improvements on various levels, including the Gaza siege or on the movement of people and goods. 

“But we will not ask for such improvements,” she said.