Leaders react to Morocco-Israel agreement to establish ties

 This combination of file pictures created on December 10, 2020 shows a Moroccan flag off the coasts of the city of Cayenne on March 21, 2012 and an Israeli national flag on September 23, 2020. (AFP)
This combination of file pictures created on December 10, 2020 shows a Moroccan flag off the coasts of the city of Cayenne on March 21, 2012 and an Israeli national flag on September 23, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 11 December 2020

Leaders react to Morocco-Israel agreement to establish ties

Leaders react to Morocco-Israel agreement to establish ties
  • Move makes Morocco fourth country in Arab region to set up ties with Israel

CAIRO: Regional leaders welcomed Morocco’s decision to establish diplomatic ties and communications with Israel.

The move makes Morocco the fourth country in the Arab region to establish ties with Israel in recent months in a deal brokered by the US.  

Oman welcomed Morocco’s announcement in a statement released by the foreign ministry.

“(Oman) welcomes what Morocco’s King Mohammed VI announced in his phone calls with U.S President Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and hopes this will further endeavours to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” the statement read.

The UAE, which announced in August it would normalize relations with Israel welcomed Morocco’s decision.

“This step, a sovereign move, contributes to strengthening our common quest for stability, prosperity, and just and lasting peace in the region,” Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wrote on Twitter.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi hailed the agreement saying its an important step to achieve stability.

“I have followed with great attention the significant advance between Morocco and Israel in terms of the normalization of their relations under the auspices of the US,” El-Sisi said. “I believe this is an important step to achieve more stability and cooperation in our region.”

Egypt, along with Jordan, were the only Arab countries to have relations with Israel until the UAE announcement earlier this year. The Emirates was followed by Bahrain and Sudan, and now Morocco.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal between Israel and Morocco was a “historic peace between us.”

Netanyahu said it would lead to direct flights between Morocco and Israel and that the fourth US-brokered deal between Israel and an Arab country in recent months would be a “very warm peace.”

In a televised address, he said: “I've always believed that this historic peace would come. I've always worked for it.”

Thanking Trump, he added: “I want to thank, too, the king of Morocco, King Mohammed the Sixth, for taking this historic decision to bring a historic peace between us.”


Israel announces completion of security barrier around Gaza

Israel announces completion of security barrier around Gaza
Updated 8 sec ago

Israel announces completion of security barrier around Gaza

Israel announces completion of security barrier around Gaza
  • The 65-kilometer barrier includes radar systems, maritime sensors and a network of underground sensors to detect militant tunnels
  • Israel has fought four wars with Hamas since it seized power in Gaza nearly 15 years ago, most recently in May
JERUSALEM: Israel on Tuesday announced the completion of an enhanced security barrier around the Gaza Strip designed.

The 65-kilometer (40-mile) barrier includes radar systems, maritime sensors and a network of underground sensors to detect militant tunnels.

Existing fencing was replaced with a 6-meter (6.5-yard) high “smart fence” with sensors and cameras.

Israel has fought four wars with Hamas since it seized power in Gaza nearly 15 years ago, most recently in May.

During a 2014 war, Palestinian fighters tunneled into Israel and clashed with Israeli troops.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced the completion of the barrier after more than three years of construction, saying it places an “iron wall” between Hamas and residents of southern Israel.

During May’s fighting, Hamas used a sophisticated tunnel system within Gaza but did not infiltrate fighters into Israel. The group fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel in 11 days, with large volleys that occasionally overwhelmed Israel’s sophisticated missile defenses.

Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes during the conflict and brought down several multistory buildings. The war killed over 250 people in Gaza, including at least 129 civilians, according to the UN, while 13 people died on the Israeli side.

Since Hamas seized power, Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that has severely restricted travel for the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents and strangled the economy.

Israel says the closures are needed to prevent Hamas from expanding its military capabilities, while the Palestinians and rights groups view it as a form of collective punishment.

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas organized violent mass protests along the frontier in order to pressure Israel to ease the blockade. More than 200 Palestinians were killed and thousands were wounded. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Rights groups recently accused Israel of failing to hold its forces accountable for the deaths and serious injuries.

Israel says its forces prevented the mass infiltration of Hamas operatives. It says allegations of wrongdoing were fully investigated and soldiers were held to account.

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM
Updated 07 December 2021

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM
  • Egypt has started locally producing China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for exporting surpluses to African countries
  • FM Shoukry handed a letter to Senegalese President Macky Sall from his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties

CAIRO: Egypt will spare no effort to help African states recover from the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at the seventh session of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa.

Egypt has started locally producing China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for exporting surpluses to African countries.

Shoukry said the pandemic has impeded efforts to achieve peace and stability on the continent, and has exacerbated humanitarian crises.

It has become impossible to deal with the pandemic solely as a global health crisis, as it has affected all aspects of life, he added. 

Shoukry highlighted issues that Africa should prioritize, including developing a common vision to address shortcomings in the continent’s medical infrastructure, such as dependence on foreign medicines and vaccines.

He also noted the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism and armed conflicts in Africa by rebuilding societies that have suffered from the scourge of war and conflict.

He praised the selection of Senegal for the African Union presidency from February 2022, and expressed Cairo’s readiness to provide all forms of support to the country in light of Egypt’s experience as president of the bloc in 2019.

Shoukry handed a letter to Senegalese President Macky Sall from his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, as well as issues of common concern.


Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise
Updated 07 December 2021

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise
  • Friendship Bridge 4 is part of Egypt’s plan to carry out joint military training with friendly countries

CAIRO: The Egyptian and Russian navies have launched the joint exercise Friendship Bridge 4, which will last for several days in the Mediterranean.

It began with a ceremony welcoming Russian forces at the Alexandria Naval Base in the presence of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Khaled Hassan Saeed, who delivered a speech in which he stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries’ navies.

Friendship Bridge 4 is part of Egypt’s plan to carry out joint military training with friendly countries.

 Meanwhile, the armed forces of Egypt and Jordan concluded their joint exercise Aqaba-6. The training, which took place in Jordan, included a joint operation to eliminate an armed terrorist outpost inside a border village, and the interception of a merchant ship.


Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
Updated 07 December 2021

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
  • A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Tarek Bitar from questioning top officials

BEIRUT: The probe into last year’s deadly Beirut port blast has been cleared to resume after being suspended for more than a month on legal claims against its lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar, a judicial source said.
A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Bitar from questioning top officials on Tuesday.
“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
The resumption could be temporary should further legal complaints be filed, he said.
The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city has made little headway amid pushback from powerful factions, some of whom lead smear campaigns and filed multiple suits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Muslim political movement Hezbollah has repeatedly said he wanted Bitar removed from the case and the row over him has spilled over into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.
Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.
He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.


Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4
Updated 07 December 2021

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

BASRA: At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in an explosion in Iraq's southern city of Basra, police and hospital sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the city centre, near a main hospital. The explosion set fire to at least one vehicle and damaged a minibus.
One police source said that an initial investigation showed that a motorcycle rigged with explosives could have been the cause of the blast.