Palestinian leadership’s call fails to overcome divisions

A demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag stands in front of Israeli forces during a protest against Israeli settlements and the U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, in Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 25, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Palestinian leadership’s call fails to overcome divisions

  • A Fatah spokesman, Hussein Hamayel, said that the positions of Hamas and PIJ were unjustified, and that they should stand with the leadership in the face of the imminent danger facing the Palestinians

GAZA CITY: In an effort to unite Palestinians against the Israeli annexation plans in the West Bank the Palestinian leadership has called on all factions to hold an emergency meeting to discuss an action plan on Saturday in Ramallah.

It sent invitations to Hamas, Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other Palestinian groups to attend the meeting to formulate the strategy to respond to Israeli plans.

Hamas and PIJ have refused to participate, saying the meeting would be a formality and would not produce any influential decisions, while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) decided to participate, despite its tense relationship with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Justifying its position, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “The repeat of facing the liquidation project with the same tools is wasting the energies of our people and is an additional encouragement to the occupation.”

Haniyeh, who has not returned to Gaza since his departure on a foreign tour a few months ago, said Hamas appreciates any serious Palestinian step to confront Israeli plans, but not with meetings that are content with media coverage and with no strategies that the people could accept.

A senior PIJ official, Ahmed al-Mudallal took the same line: “It is not possible to confront American-backed Israeli crimes except with serious steps towards real Palestinian unity that preserves the national project and restores the state of comprehensive and popular confrontation to the Zionist enemy, especially in the West Bank, to make the occupation costly.”

Haniyeh called for ”comprehensive popular resistance” in the West Bank and Gaza to confront the “deal of the century.”

Al-Mudallal called on the Palestinian authority to cancel its recognition of Israel, the Oslo accords and the rest of the agreements signed with Israel to inaugurate what he called “a new and unified Palestinian struggle period.”

The PFLP, contrary to the position it has been taking close to Hamas in recent years, has officially announced its participation in the Ramallah meeting.

"Our participation stems from the responsibility of the National Front to confront a plan to annex large areas of West Bank, which aims to complete the colonial project for the entire Palestinian land," said Maher Mezher, a member of PFLP Central Committee.

At the meeting the PFLP will demand to set up committees to discuss their response.

Mezher told Arab News that PFLP will also demand the withdrawal of recognition of Israel, the implementation of the decisions of the National and Central Councils to end the Oslo Agreement and the consequent political, security and economic obligations.

A Fatah spokesman, Hussein Hamayel, said that the positions of Hamas and PIJ were unjustified, and that they should stand with the leadership in the face of the imminent danger facing the Palestinians.

He accused Hamas of trying to “create weak arguments to justify its positions towards the Palestinian leadership.”

“The meeting is important and is expected to result in strong and historic decisions in the face of the annexation projects. Hamas and PIJ’s apology means their adherence to division and weakening the Palestinian position,” Hamayel said.

In his speech to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba, President Abbas threatened to withdraw from the agreements with Israel, “We will reconsider our attitude on all agreements and understandings, whether with the occupying state or with the US itself, and we will be free of all those agreements and understandings if the Israeli government has announced the annexation of any part of our occupied lands.”

Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

Updated 25 October 2020

Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

  • ‘This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people’
  • Dubai has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence

DUBAI: Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.
“This technology has proven its effectiveness to identify suspicious and wanted people,” said Obaid Al-Hathboor, director of Dubai’s Transport Security Department.
The emirate already operates a biometric system using facial recognition at its international airport.
Dubai, which sees itself as a leading “smart city” in the Middle East, has ambitions to become a hub for technology and artificial intelligence.
Both sectors will be on show when it opens the multi-billion-dollar Expo fair.
“We aspire to raise our performance by building on our current capabilities, to ensure a high level of security in metro stations and other transport sectors,” said Hathboor.
Earlier this week, under the watch of Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the city’s police used facial recognition in a simulated scenario to identify gunmen launching an attack on a metro station.
A special police unit, trained in the United States, helped “evacuate” commuters from the station in the mock attack, before working in tandem with a control center to apprehend the suspects.
Members of the special unit will be sent to major metro stations during Expo 2020.
The six-month event was delayed by one year due to coronavirus, and is now set to open in October 2021.
It was expected to attract 15 million visitors before the global economy and transport systems were disrupted by the pandemic.
Jamal Rashed, of Dubai Police’s Transport Security Department, said the facial recognition technology will be rolled out in the coming months in all metro stations.
Other technology already in use to combat the spread of the coronavirus, such as helmets with thermal cameras and smart glasses, will also be used to identify and manage large crowds.
“It took at least five hours to identify a suspect before,” said Rashed. “With this technology, it takes less than a minute.”
But while the technology to identify individuals has simplified lives, such as being used for unlocking phones, it has also raised concerns over privacy.
Berlin-based advocacy group AlgorithmWatch says that at least 10 European police forces use facial recognition technology — a trend that privacy and rights groups are concerned about.
China has also been criticized for the facial recognition systems in its public surveillance network.