Rivals’ accord paves way for Palestine coalition

Rivals’ accord paves way for Palestine coalition
Fatah’s Azzam Al-Ahmad, right, and Saleh Al-Arouri of Hamas after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Oct. 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements ended their decade-long split. (AFP)
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Updated 23 January 2021

Rivals’ accord paves way for Palestine coalition

Rivals’ accord paves way for Palestine coalition
  • Hamas and Fatah agreed to share surplus votes in elections for a national unity government that will run affairs in Gaza and the West Bank
  • A coalition government appears to give the people of Gaza a chance to exercise freedom of movement and benefit from rebuilding work in the enclave

AMMAN: Fatah and Hamas leaders appear to be moving closer to setting up a unified list that will be the basis of a Palestinian coalition government, a draft agreement between the rival factions reveals.

The agreement, seen by Arab News, was a key factor in the decision to hold elections — Palestine’s first in 15 years — on May 22.

Details of the accord were discussed at meetings in Istanbul and Cairo, and became the basis of an exchange of letters between Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Compromises appear to have been made by both sides, but particularly by Hamas, which accepts that “the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) is the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and is responsible for all external political issues and negotiations as well as all issues related to war and peace.”

However, Fatah, which has effectively controlled the PLO for decades, acknowledges that the organization requires reform and strengthening so it can better represent all Palestinian groups and in order for its decisions to be mandatory.

By agreeing to be part of the PLO and under its political umbrella, Hamas can avoid the problems it faced in 2006 when it refused to recognize Israel. The PLO exchanged letters of recognition with Israel in 1993.

Hamas and Fatah also agreed to share surplus votes in elections for a national unity government that will run affairs in Gaza and the West Bank, and have total control over all Palestinian areas.

Both sides agreed that the new government “will work on unifying laws and institutions, and have security control over all areas.”

A coalition government appears to give the people of Gaza a chance to exercise freedom of movement and benefit from rebuilding work in the enclave.

According to the agreement, one of the main goals of a coalition government seeking to revive Gaza’s battered economy will be a long-term cease-fire with Israel to prepare the groundwork for extensive rebuilding.

The agreement also calls for Gaza airport and all crossings to be permanently restored along with the establishment of a security corridor between Gaza and the West Bank.

Hamas and Fatah also appear to agree on the need for a change in the role of the Palestinian president, with calls for an overhaul of Palestine’s political structure, “especially the roles of the president, government and legislative council.”

“It is either a presidential structure or a parliamentary one,” the accord said. “The hybrid is a source of conflict.”

Changes should take place before the presidential elections due on July 31, it adds.

The two factions also agreed that the “election campaigns must be civilized, respectful, and avoid abuse and libel from all sides.”

According to the agreement, election results “will be recognized no matter what they are.”


Saudi Arabia launches iftar program in Argentina

Saudi Arabia launches iftar program in Argentina
Saudi Arabia launches iftar program in Argentina. (SPA)
Updated 52 sec ago

Saudi Arabia launches iftar program in Argentina

Saudi Arabia launches iftar program in Argentina
  • The activity is part of a project to distribute 6,332 food baskets across 21 Albanian governorates during Ramadan

BUENOS AIRES: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance launched an iftar program in Argentina.
The program was launched in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Argentina, Riyad bin Saud Al-Khonaini, and the director of the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center, Naif Al-Faieem.
Al-Khonaini said the iftar initiative was one of the programs that King Salman wanted launched in a number of countries during Ramadan, including Argentina.
Al-Faieem said the program would see the distribution of 2,500 food baskets to the needy. The program will target around 20,000 people.
Separately, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has continued distributing Ramadan food baskets in Albania. The activity is part of a project to distribute 6,332 food baskets across 21 Albanian governorates during Ramadan.

 


Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province
Saudi police arrested seven people for violating isolation and quarantine instructions. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province
  • Health Ministry reports 948 new cases, 775 recoveries, 9 deaths

JEDDAH: Eastern Province police on Saturday arrested seven people for violating isolation and quarantine instructions, after they were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

Regional police spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammed bin Shar Al-Shehri said they had been caught in Dammam, Abqaiq, Al-Ahsa and Alkhobar and that all preliminary legal procedures had been taken against them for their cases to be referred to Public Prosecution.
People who violate quarantine procedures in Saudi Arabia are fined up to SR200,000 ($53,333), jailed for up to two years or both.
If the violation is repeated, the penalty imposed from the previous incident is doubled.
COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in Saudi Arabia, with 948 new infections reported on Saturday to bring the total to 404,054.
The country has 9,449 active cases and 1,018 of them are in critical condition.

FASTFACT

People who violate quarantine procedures in Saudi Arabia are fined up to SR200,000 ($53,333), jailed for up to two years or both. If the violation is repeated, the penalty imposed from the previous incident is doubled.

Riyadh reported the highest number of cases with 419, followed by Makkah with 210 and the Eastern Province with 133. Three regions reported cases in the single digits: Najran with nine, Baha with eight and Jouf with seven cases.
There were 775 new recoveries, taking this total to 387,795, and a further nine deaths due to COVID-19 complications. The death toll is 6,810.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 6.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far. Approximately 20 percent of the Kingdom’s population has now received at least one jab.
There were 51,126 PCR tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number conducted in the Kingdom to more than 16.12 million.


Chelsea beat Man City to reach FA Cup final

Chelsea beat Man City to reach FA Cup final
Updated 18 April 2021

Chelsea beat Man City to reach FA Cup final

Chelsea beat Man City to reach FA Cup final
  • Damaging day for Guardiola's team as they lose Kevin De Bruyne to ankle injury

LONDON: Chelsea ended Manchester City’s quest for a historic quadruple of trophies as Hakim Ziyech’s goal earned a 1-0 win to take the Blues into the FA Cup final on Saturday.

A damaging day for City also saw them lose Kevin De Bruyne to an ankle injury just over a week away from the League Cup final, where they face Tottenham, and the first leg of their Champions League semifinal against Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea were good value for another impressive win under Thomas Tuchel and will be favorites for the German’s first silverware in English football when they face Leicester or Southampton May 15.

Tuchel could land an even bigger prize in the Champions League just months after replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January.

His side showed they can get the better of City in what could be a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final should the English clubs see off PSG and Real Madrid in the last four.

The physical demands of City’s bid for a clean sweep of trophies was shown as Pep Guardiola made eight changes from the side that beat Borussia Dortmund in midweek with goalscorers Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez among those rotated.

Tuchel made just three changes and Chelsea looked the far less disjointed side in a bright start.

Timo Werner’s cross was swept home by Ziyech after just six minutes, but the goal was ruled out for offside against the German international.

That proved to be the only shot on target of a cagey first 45 minutes that did little to whet the appetite of a potential reunion in Istanbul for European club football’s greatest prize on May 29.

Despite the number of changes, the ease with which Chelsea were able to spring quick counter-attacks will be of concern to Guardiola with the fearsome duo of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to come.

From one slick break, Chelsea’s wing backs combined but Ben Chilwell could only slice Reece James’s cross wide.

City got to half-time without any damage on the score line, but suffered a potentially huge blow to their hopes of still clinching a treble of trophies early in the second half.

Just 11 days before the first leg of the PSG tie, De Bruyne appeared to roll his ankle in a challenge with N’Golo Kante and was replaced by Foden.

City were still reeling from the loss of the Belgium attacker when they were finally caught out by the Chelsea counterattack.

Guardiola’s decision to retain Zack Steffen in goal for domestic cup competitions backfired as the American was caught in no man’s land when Werner raced in behind and once again squared for Ziyech to roll into an empty net.

Steffen made some measure of amends moments later to deny Ziyech a second when the Moroccan was clean through.

City took until the final 20 minutes to get going, but their best chance of sending the game to extra time came from a corner as Ruben Dias headed over from close range.

Instead, it was Chelsea who found the net again through Christian Pulisic in stoppage time only for the offside flag to again come to City’s rescue.

But there was no saving a bid for history for Guardiola’s men as they cannot now better Manchester United’s treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup from 1998/99.


Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool under pressure

Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool under pressure
Updated 17 April 2021

Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool under pressure

Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool under pressure
  • We have to win games and put pressure on teams. That’s all we know and we will try says Klopp

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool are under pressure as they try to salvage a troubled season by finishing in the Premier League’s top four.

Klopp’s side have failed to defend the Premier League title they won last term and were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on Wednesday.

That quarterfinal exit means Liverpool’s only route back into Europe’s elite club competition next season is via a top-four finish in the league.

The sixth-placed Reds have been outside the top four since early February and they slipped as low as eighth before winning their last three leagues games to get back in the race.

Fourth-placed West Ham’s 3-2 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday was a major boost to Liverpool’s hopes.

With seven pressure-packed games left, they would go above the Hammers on goal difference with a victory at Leeds on Monday.

“We just go for it, go and go and go and play our best football,” Klopp said.

“We are of course under pressure as we want to finish in the top four but we don’t know in the moment if we will. We have seven games to prove that and we will try.”

Leeds are coming off an impressive victory at leaders Manchester City last weekend where they played half the match with 10 men.

Klopp is well aware of the threat posed by Marcelo Bielsa’s side and he said: “We should not forget the opponents we face. We won the last three and that’s why we’re still around, still in the fight for the Champions League spots.

“It’s clear we have to win football games. It would be best to win all of them, but they are tough opponents and we have to respect all of them.

“We have to win games and put pressure on teams. That’s all we know and we will try.”

Injury-plagued Liverpool’s recent strong form domestically has been helped by the developing partnership between center backs Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips.

Liverpool have won the four Premier League games they have started together, offering a solution to the defensive issues triggered by long-term injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

“Using the information you have just given me I’d better start them in the next game as well,” Klopp said.

“These things have to develop. There was never a question about their quality, the boys have quality but you have to bring it together.”


Zidane: ‘I’m not a terrible coach, I’m not the best either’

Zidane: ‘I’m not a terrible coach, I’m not the best either’
Updated 17 April 2021

Zidane: ‘I’m not a terrible coach, I’m not the best either’

Zidane: ‘I’m not a terrible coach, I’m not the best either’
  • Real Madrid play away at struggling Getafe on Sunday and Zidane has been able to name only 13 outfield players in the squad for the match

MADRID: Zinedine Zidane defended himself on Saturday against accusations he is a lucky coach but again refused to commit to staying at Real Madrid next season.

An impressive week has put Madrid in sight of winning both La Liga and the Champions League, after they beat Barcelona in the Clasico last weekend before knocking out Liverpool on Wednesday.

Despite sitting one point behind Atletico Madrid, Zidane’s team are now favorites to defend the title they claimed last term in the Frenchman’s first full season back in charge.

It would add to the 11 major trophies Zidane has already won across his two spells as Real Madrid coach, which includes two league titles and three consecutive successes in the Champions League.

Asked if it annoys him when he is called lucky, Zidane said: “I am lucky, it’s true, lucky to be here and to coach this great club. Am I a terrible coach? I don’t think I am terrible, I don’t believe that.

“I’m not the best either, sure, but I enjoy what I’m doing.”

Zidane’s contract at Real Madrid runs until the summer of 2022 but doubts remain about whether he will continue beyond the current season.

He resigned unexpectedly in 2018 after winning the Champions League and has been linked with taking charge of the French national team and Juventus, where he spent five years as a player.

“I don’t think about the future,” said Zidane. “I don’t know what will happen, you can have a five-year contract and leave tomorrow or the opposite. I’m happy and thinking about tomorrow’s game.”

Real Madrid play away at struggling Getafe on Sunday and Zidane has been able to name only 13 outfield players in the squad for the match.

Madrid announced on Saturday that Ferland Mendy has a calf problem while neither Eden Hazard nor Dani Carvajal were deemed ready after recently recovering from injury.

Zidane has only four fit defenders, with Sergio Ramos out injured, Raphael Varane unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19 and Nacho Fernandez suspended. Casemiro is also banned after being sent off against Barcelona.