Palestinian election hopes rise after rivals agree on poll plan

Palestinian election hopes rise after rivals agree on poll plan
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Armed fighters take part in a military drill by Hamas and other Palestinian armed factions on a beach in Gaza City. (AFP)
Palestinian election hopes rise after rivals agree on poll plan
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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh (L) and Deputy Chairman of the Fatah movement, Mahmoud Al-Aloul (C) gesture after lighting a torch at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, to mark the 56th anniversary of the launching of the Fatah movement. (AFP)
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Updated 03 January 2021

Palestinian election hopes rise after rivals agree on poll plan

Palestinian election hopes rise after rivals agree on poll plan
  • Hamas, Fatah join hands as Palestine likely to hold elections after nearly 15 years

AMMAN: Hopes that the first Palestinian polls in almost 15 years will be held soon have received a major boost with rival factions Hamas and Fatah exchanging written approval of a democratic election process.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that President Mahmoud Abbas received a written letter from Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas political bureau, conveyed to him by Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah Central Committee.

Abbas welcomed the letter’s contents “regarding ending the division, building partnership and achieving national unity through democratic elections, with full proportional representation — legislative and presidential elections, and the National Council — to be held simultaneously,” Wafa said.

The Palestinian president asked Hanna Nassir, chairman of the Central Elections Commission, to meet with him to discuss the procedures that should be followed to issue the election decrees, the news agency said.

The exchange of letters between the rival factions is a major step forward for internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

Abbas thanked Egypt, which sponsors the intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks, as well as Qatar, Turkey, Russia and Jordan, for their goodwill efforts in reaching the agreement.

Speaking during Fatah’s 56th anniversary, Rajoub told Al-Awdah TV that contacts have taken place with Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.

FASTFACT

The exchange of letters between the rival factions is a major step forward for internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

“We told them to keep us out of their internal problems and agendas. For the first time, Egypt says Fatah is not responsible for the continuation of the reconciliation. We have taken a number of steps to overcome the obstacles. Israel has been the head of the external factors that have wished for the reconciliation not to take place.”

One issue that appears to have been resolved is Hamas’ agreement to support the candidacy of Abbas for president, Rajoub said.

Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to Abbas, told Arab News that Egypt has been playing a positive role in bringing the sides together.

“Egypt has a national interest in Palestinian unity which will be helpful in ensuring security.”

Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestine National Council, said: “A presidential decree confirming the date for elections would be welcome so long as it comes as a result of a political will.”

Hamadeh Kamal, who runs a training program for released prisoners, said that he hopes that Haniyeh’s letter will reverse the repeated sense of disappointment and defeat among Gazans.

“Gazans don’t see any value in meetings and letters while they are hungry and in need. They are sick and tired of the status quo and the repeated failures to accomplish a breakthrough.”

Hani Almasri a Ramallah-based analyst and head of the Masar think tank, said that many obstacles have yet to be overcome. “This is a positive move, but many difficulties remain.”

Wael Manameh, a political analyst from Gaza, said that he hopes Haniyeh’s letter to Abbas shows that Hamas is totally committed to ending the split and holding elections.

“We need to take this opportunity to end the division. Our people have no more patience with the division that has hurt our cause and left the occupied areas in a deteriorating economic situation made worse by the pandemic.”

 


Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
Updated 43 sec ago

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
  • South Sinai is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over
  • South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt

CAIRO: Officials in South Sinai have announced that it has become the first governorate in Egypt whose eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to health sources, it is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over — the allowed age for inoculation. 

South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt. It also includes famous religious sites such as Mount El-Tur and St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, said there have only been 81 deaths from COVID-19 there since the start of the pandemic — the lowest rate among Egypt’s governorates. 

He added that South Sinai recorded only one case on Sunday night after recording no cases for two weeks in a row, bringing the total number of cases to 1,371 since the start of the pandemic, with only 29 hospitalizations. 


10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
Updated 19 October 2021

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
  • Four out of every five children need humanitarian assistance in Yemen

GENEVA: Ten thousand Yemeni children have been killed after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the government in 2015, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday.
“The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone. We now have 10,000 children who have been killed or maimed since ... March 2015,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva after returning from a visit to Yemen.
“That is the equivalent of four children every single day,” Elder said, adding that many more child deaths or injuries went unreported.
Four out of every five children — a total of 11 million — need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, while 400,000 are suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 2 million are out of school, Elder said.
UN-led efforts to engineer a nationwide cease-fire have stalled as the Houthis resist compromise to end more than six years of a war that has caused what the UN calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Hundreds of Yemenis are trapped by fierce fighting between government and Houthi forces in the northern Marib governorate, residents and a local official said last week, after battles for control of the gas-rich region displaced some 10,000 people.


Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister
Updated 19 October 2021

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

DUBAI: Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has appointed Ali Bin Ahmad Al-Kuwari as finance minister in a government reshuffle, according to a statement issued by the emiri court on Tuesday.

Al-Kuwari had been serving as commerce and industry minister and as acting finance minister before the reshuffle.

Qatar's emir created an environment and climate change ministry on Tuesday, naming Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani as its minister. 

Two women were handed cabinet posts for education and social development. They join Health Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, who had been the only woman in the cabinet.

 

(with Reuters)


Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
Updated 19 October 2021

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
  • There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July

CAIRO: There were 18,500 flights into and out of Egypt in July compared to 6,500 in the same month last year, an increase of 185 percent, according to the country’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

In June there were some 14,000 flights, compared to 500 in the same month last year.

There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July, more than quadruple the 500,000 passengers in the same month last year.

In June there were 1.6 million passengers, compared to 300,000 in the same month last year.

There were 19,200 tons of cargo transported by plane in July compared to 16,700 in the same month last year, an increase of 13 percent.

In June 21,300 tons were transported compared to 16,100 in the same month last year, an increase of 32 percent.


Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue
Updated 19 October 2021

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

CAIRO: Lebanon's parliament voted on Tuesday to hold legislative elections on March 27, parliamentary sources said, giving Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government only a few months to try to secure an IMF recovery plan amid a deepening economic meltdown.
Lebanon's financial crisis, labelled by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history, had been compounded by political deadlock for over a year before Mikati put together a cabinet alongside President Michel Aoun.
The currency has lost 90% of its value and three quarters of the population have been propelled into poverty. Shortages of basic goods such as fuel and medicines have made daily life a struggle.
Mikati, whose cabinet is focused on reviving talks with the International Monetary Fund, had vowed to make sure elections are held with no delay and Western governments urged the same.
But a row over the probe into last year's Beirut port blast that killed over 200 people and destroyed large swathes of the capital is threatening to veer his cabinet off course.
Some ministers, aligned with politicians that lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar is seeking to question over the explosion, last week demanded that the judge be removed from the probe.
Mikati has since said the cabinet will not convene another meeting until an agreement is reached on how to deal with the matter.
On Thursday, Beirut witnessed the worst street violence in over a decade with seven people killed in gunfire when protesters from the Hezbollah and Amal Shi'ite movements made their way to demonstrate against Judge Bitar.
The bloodshed, which stirred memories of the 1975-1990 civil war, added to fears for the stability of a country that is awash with weapons.
The early election date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was chosen in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Once a new parliament is elected, the Mikati cabinet will only act in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is given a vote of confidence and tasked with forming a new government.