Palestinian president declares end to all agreements with Israel and US

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a leadership meeting at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 20 May 2020

Palestinian president declares end to all agreements with Israel and US

  • Decision includes security agreements with Israel, including those set out in Oslo Accords
  • Announcement comes as new Israeli government prepares to annex parts of occupied West Bank

LONDON: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared on Tuesday an end to all agreements signed with Israel and the United States.

The president made the announcement during an emergency meeting in Ramallah to discuss Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

He said the decision included security agreements with Israel, including those set out in the Oslo Accords signed in 1993.

“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones,” Abbas said.

The dramatic announcement comes as Israel prepares to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in a stance adopted by a new coalition government sworn in Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised in his election campaign to annex the Jordan Valley area of the Palestinian territory.

Abbas said his cutting of the agreements meant Israel would now have to “shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power.”

He also lashed out at the US, which under Donald Trump’s administration has taken a tough line against the Palestinians, including returning the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“We hold the American administration fully responsible for the oppression befalling the Palestinian people and we consider it a primary partner with the Israeli occupation government in all its aggressive and unfair decisions and measures against our people.” Abbas said.


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.