Libya’s Haftar, unity govt agree to UN-backed Eid truce

Militias allied with the Tripoli-based government have been fighting since April against a military offensive to take the capital. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 August 2019

Libya’s Haftar, unity govt agree to UN-backed Eid truce

  • The UN envoy for Libya had proposed a multi-day truce for the Eid holiday
  • Fighting for Tripoli has killed over 1,100 people, mostly combatants, and has displaced more than 100,000 civilians

TRIPOLI, BENGHAZI: Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces agreed on Saturday to a UN-backed humanitarian truce around Tripoli for the festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a cease-fire.

But as the UN was trying to broker a truce in Tripoli, a car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed two UN staff on Saturday, several medical sources said.
Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said earlier it was conditionally willing to accept a truce in fighting around the capital for the three-day holiday which starts on Sunday.
The UN had called on the GNA and Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) to commit to a humanitarian truce by midnight on Friday.
Haftar’s forces have been fighting since early April to seize Tripoli from the GNA.
The strongman’s spokesman Ahmad Al-Mesmari said on Saturday that his forces “announce a halt to all military operations ... in the suburbs of Tripoli.”
Mesmari said the truce had gone into effect at 3 p.m. on Sat

FASTFACT

As the UN was trying to broker a truce in Tripoli, a car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed two UN staff on Saturday.

urday and would last until the same time on Monday afternoon.
The GNA had said late on Friday it was keen to “ease the suffering of the citizens and allow rescue workers to accomplish their mission” and would accept “a humanitarian truce for Eid Al-Adha.”
But it listed several conditions, saying the cease-fire must be observed “in all combat zones, with a cessation of direct and indirect fire and movement of troops.”
It also said the truce must include “a ban on flights and reconnaissance overflights” across the country’s entire airspace.
The GNA also called on the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to “ensure the implementation of the truce and note any breaches.”
UNSMIL had expressed “regret” earlier on Saturday that it had “not received any response” from Haftar’s forces following its call for a cease-fire, and urged all sides to respect the sanctity of the festival.
Haftar’s spokesman, talking from the eastern city of Benghazi, then announced the cease-fire “out of respect for this occasion’s place in our spirits ... so that Libyan citizens can celebrate this Eid in peace.”
UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian truces, without success.
In a video conference with the UN Security Council late last month, Salame warned against mounting tensions and called for a cease-fire for Eid Al-Adha.

Bomb explosion
Meanwhile, a Reuters reporter at a Benghazi hospital where casualties of the blast were taken saw a list of names of those killed identifying them as part of the UN Libya mission (UNSMIL).
Several medical and security officials at the hospital said two UN staff, one of them foreign, had been killed.
UNSMIL spokesman Jean El Alam said via email that the organization was “in the process of gathering information.”
The explosion happened in front of a shopping mall and bank. At least one burned out UN car could be seen at the scene.
Around the time of the blast, Haftar, announced a halt to military operations during the Eid Al-Adha holiday, which lasts from Saturday until Tuesday, according to a statement from his forces in Benghazi.


Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

A Palestinian man facing Israeli soldiers waves a national flag during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the town of Tulkarm on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2020

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

  • Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause

AMMAN: Leading Palestinian and Arab figures have used the 53rd anniversary of Naksa — the displacement and occupation of Arab territories that followed Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — to highlight political mistakes made during and after the conflict.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership had failed to understand the goals of Zionism.

“Governments that participated in the war were naive, expecting a repeat of the 1956 Sinai invasion when the US ordered an Israeli withdrawal. This was followed by the mistaken belief that we could liberate the land using guerrilla warfare," he said.

Anees Sweidan, director-general of foreign relations in the PLO, told Arab News that the Palestinian cause is undergoing a complicated phase where political opportunities are limited.

“The US bias towards Israel and absence of unity has put the Palestinian movement in a difficult situation. It is harder to generate external support and the financial crunch is causing much suffering despite the fact that we have made important accomplishments in the UN and Europe.”

Abdalqader Husseini, chairperson of the Faisal Husseini Foundation, said that the opportunities the anniversary offers should not be ignored.

“We need to realize that this is an illegal occupation that continues to dig deeper and escalate every day to the degree that the international community has lost interest and world conscience has become numb to Israeli practices. We in Jerusalem have not normalized with the occupiers and we have not accepted the new situation as an inescapable reality that we must accept.”

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause.

“We went to Madrid with hope, the Palestinian leadership went to Oslo with optimism that they could reach a phased solution that would lead to statehood. As we remember this Naksa, we must revisit the path that has allowed the occupying entity to steal our land and cause havoc to our people without any deterrence from the international community," he said.

They (Palestinian youth) personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of PASSIA thinktank

Nibal Thawabteh, director of the Bir Zeit University’s Media Development Center, said the biggest mistake since 1967 was focusing on politics and avoiding community development.

"We don’t have a strong sense of citizenship, some have become accustomed to religious Islam. We need to work more on the citizenship.”

Ahmad Awad, director of the Amman-based Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said there is a lack of acknowledgment of the reasons behind the Arab loss.

“Political, economic and cultural factors caused our loss, and we feel that most Arab countries have not learned this lesson. Instead of learning, we are going backwards, failing to defend their existential rights, shifting to isolationism as well as cultural and economic regression in our region."

Instead of looking backward, some Palestinians wanted to look forward.

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of the PASSIA thinktank in Jerusalem, said that Palestinian youth who never felt the shock of the 1967 defeat but have seen the exposure of Arab regimes in the face of the "deal of the century" will prevail.

“They personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Lily Habash, a Exeter University political science graduate, told Arab News that things look different on the ground.

“The world is changing and Israel uses geopolitical and regional changes to its advantage,” she said.

Dangers today encourage despair but Palestinians will be steadfast in the long term, she added.

“Some say we need a savior to get us out of this dilemma but I believe we need to trust in ourselves and work on all fronts.”