Egypt’s foreign minister in show of support for Palestinians in Ramallah

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 20, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 21 July 2020

Egypt’s foreign minister in show of support for Palestinians in Ramallah

  • Cairo condemns Israeli annexation plans

AMMAN: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri ended a two-day visit to Jordan and Palestine with a visit to the Palestinian presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Monday.

Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to the Palestinian president, said the visit followed a Sunday phone call between President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The Egyptian position in opposition of the (West Bank) annexation and in support of Palestinian rights is well-known,” Shaath told Arab News. “But the physical presence of the Egyptian official sends a strong message to Palestinians and the world that Egypt is in total sync with the Palestinians.”

After the visit Shukri and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki held a press conference to reiterate the strength of Palestinian-Egyptian relations and their opposition to Israel’s annexation plans.

Oraib Rantawi, head of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, said the visit to Ramallah was meant to have been part of a show of support by both Jordan and Egypt.

“The earlier plan was that Shukri and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi make the trip together, but Shukri was unable to join Safadi on that trip because of sensitive regional talks regarding the Nahda dam,” he told Arab News.

Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, said that the visit by Shukri was a blow to Israel.

“Cairo’s public condemnation of Israeli unilateralism in Ramallah is a blow to (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s narrative that Israel's Arab partners are indifferent toward annexation if not desirous of it,” he told Arab News.

Cairo’s public condemnation of Israeli unilateralism in Ramallah is a blow to (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s narrative that Israel’s Arab partners are indifferent toward annexation if not desirous of it.

Ofer Zalzberg, Senior analyst

The importance of this visit clearly showed the high level of Egyptian coordination with Ramallah and Amman, he added.

Jordan’s official Petra news agency said that King Abdullah II reiterated that any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank was unacceptable as it would “undermine the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the region.”

While in Jordan, Shukri said that El-Sisi was looking forward to a trilateral summit between Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq to try and discuss ways to achieve better regional cooperation.

Petra reported that efforts to reach “political solutions to regional crises” were also discussed.

Analysts said that the regional crises were a reference to the situation in Libya.

Rantawi said that the earlier visit to Amman had more than one item on the agenda.

“Jordan’s relationship with Turkey has improved in recent months and I am told that Egypt was hoping that his majesty can help defuse the current Egyptian-Turkish tensions over Libya.”

In other Palestinian-related issues, the governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, was arrested for the 17th time since being appointed to his position two years ago.

Police raided Ghaith’s home in the city’s Silwan neighborhood on Sunday and took him into custody, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said in a statement.

An Israeli judge decided on Monday to extend his detention to seven days in prison.

It is unclear why he was arrested and what the reason was for the extended remand.


Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

Updated 20 September 2020

Iran virus deaths surge past 24,000

  • President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases

JEDDAH: The official coronavirus death toll in Iran surged past 24,000 on Saturday as health chiefs admitted 90 percent of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in hospital were dying.

Payam Tabarsi, head of infectious diseases at Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran, said the number of emergency room patients had jumped from 68 a day to 200 in the past week. “People are queuing to be admitted,” he said, and if the trend continued, deaths from coronavirus could reach 600 a day within weeks.

Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

Iran was slow to react to the first coronavirus cases in February, and is now battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak. Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.

Analysts both inside and outside Iran are skeptical of the official figures and believe the true level of infections and deaths is far higher. President Hassan Rouhani blamed people’s failure to observe preventive measures, especially wearing masks, for the surge in cases.

“Today, the Health Ministry gave a worrying report,” he said on Saturday. “The public’s observance, which was 82 percent in earlier weeks, has fallen to 62 percent.”

FASTFACTS

  • Iran’s total number of confirmed cases in the past 24 hours spiked by 2,845 to 419,043 and the death toll rose by 166 to 24,118. •Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June. •551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. •Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’
  • Daily infections have remained above 2,000 for the past two weeks and are nearing the 3,574 high reached in early June.
  • 551 new cases were reported in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271.
  • Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a ‘second wave.’

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia daily coronavirus case numbers have fallen to a five-month low after 551 new cases were reported on Saturday, taking the total to 329,271. The death toll rose by 28 to 4,458. The last time the Kingdom recorded numbers in the 500s was April 15, when 518 cases were reported.

Worldwide, the virus has infected just under 31 million people and killed nearly 960,000, amid fears of a “second wave” of the pandemic after the first outbreaks early in the year.

European countries from Denmark to Greece have announced new restrictions to curb surging infections in some of their largest cities, and Britain is considering new measures to tackle an “inevitable” second wave of COVID-19.

The UK has reported the fifth-largest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico. “We are now seeing a second wave coming in ... it is absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

England’s public health chief Yvonne Doyle said: “We’re seeing clear signs this virus is now spreading across all age groups and I am particularly worried by the increase … among older people. This could be a warning of far worse things to come.”