Palestinian leaders call for anti-Manama unity to continue

“Our national rights are not real estate property that can be bought and sold,” said Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian president
Updated 28 June 2019

Palestinian leaders call for anti-Manama unity to continue

  • “The Bahrain workshop was an exercise in futility,” says PLO official

EAST JERUSALEM: Palestinian officials breathed a sigh of relief as the controversial Manama economic workshop — which they considered a failure — ended on Thursday, but warned against complacency in its aftermath.

“The Bahrain workshop was an exercise in futility,” said Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi. 

She called for robust efforts to build on the united stand adopted by Palestinians in opposition to the US-led conference and the economic plan it promoted, and to seize the chance to reinvigorate the Palestinian national cause by working with allies around the world.

“We need to return to our people and build on the national unity that was accomplished, through giving the people a chance to cast their vote in general elections,” she said.

Palestinian Deputy Premier Ziad Abu Amer echoed Ashrawi’s comments by calling for serious engagement, in particular with countries that have stood by Palestine.

“We were not against the economic workshop, had it been done within the context of a political process that was focused on the two-state solution,” said Amer. 

He added that Palestinians must build on the unity that Gaza and the West Bank had witnessed, and engage with the world using a proactive strategy that can reinforce the consensus coming out of Bahrain.

“The workshop in Manama showed clearly that you can’t place the cart before the horse,” he said. “All of us have been involved in track-two diplomacy and we are convinced that it is futile unless it is a fulfilment of a political process, and not a precursor to it.”

Amer said that the failure of the Bahrain workshop was due in large part to the steadfastness of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“President Abbas had the courage to stand up and say ‘no’ and this inspired many people and countries to reject an American process that attempts to circumvent the two-state solution,” he added.

Abbas met Sabastian Pinera, the president of Chile, in Ramallah on Thursday and presented him with the Medal of Bethlehem. During a joint press conference, Abbas said that national rights are not real estate property that can be bought and sold. 

He added that the correct political process will require “freedom, dignity, independence and justice for the Palestinian people.”

While he rejected the Bahrain workshop, Abbas said that Palestinians yearn for peace.

“Despite all that has happened, we are holding on to the aspirations for peace on the basis of international law, signed agreements and the Arab peace plan,” he said. Palestine will work with any international mechanism that can help Palestinian institutions to develop and empower the economy, he added.

Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

Updated 19 September 2019

Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

PARIS: Qatar is not fulfilling all its promises to improve the conditions of migrant workers in the country in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International said Thursday.
In a report entitled "All Work, No Pay", the rights group said: "Despite the significant promises of reform which Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers."
The report came as French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani were due to meet in Paris on Thursday.
Sheikh Tamim also attended Wednesday's high-profile clash between Paris Saint-Germain -- owned by Qatar's state-owned investment fund -- and Real Madrid.
Doha has made efforts since being named World Cup hosts to improve the conditions of the migrant workers who make up a majority of the Gulf emirate's population.
In November 2017, a temporary $200 monthly minimum wage was introduced for most categories of workers with a permanent level expected to be set before the end of the year.
Exit visas granted at the discretion of employers, required by some workers to leave the country, should be entirely scrapped by the end of 2019 according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
But Amnesty reported challenges faced by hundreds of workers at three construction and cleaning companies in Qatar who went unpaid for months.
"Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life; instead many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them," said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty's deputy director of global issues.
After coming under fire over the treatment of migrant workers, Qatar agreed with the ILO in 2017 to undertake labour reforms, including establishing new dispute resolution committees.
"We are urging the Qatari authorities to fully deliver what has been promised and end the shameful reality of labour exploitation," Cockburn said.
Amnesty cited the case of a Kenyan employee of United Cleaning who said he had to rummage for food in garbage bins after receiving no salary for five months.
The man said he had worked for two years and five months for the company without taking any holidays and was owed "a lot of money".
The companies all cited financial difficulties for the non-payment of wages, according to the report.
A Qatar government spokesman said the country had "made substantial progress on labour reforms".
"We continue to work with NGOs, including the ILO, to ensure that these reforms are far-reaching and effective," he said in a statement.
"Any issues or delays with our systems will be addressed comprehensively. We have said, from the outset that this would take time, resources and commitment."