UK must stand up to Iran: MPs

UK must stand up to Iran: MPs
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) rally, which Assadollah Assadi planned to bomb, in Villepinte, north of Paris, June 30, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 February 2021

UK must stand up to Iran: MPs

UK must stand up to Iran: MPs
  • EU, Britain urged to use ‘maximum pressure’ against ‘pariah state’
  • Statement follows court ruling that found Iranian diplomat guilty of planning to bomb opposition rally in Paris

LONDON: A cross-party group of British MPs has written to the government urging it to have the “courage” to downgrade diplomatic relations with Tehran in response to the threat posed by Iran’s state terrorism.

The letter, issued by the British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF), said the case of Assadollah Assadi — an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism for trying to bomb an opposition rally in Paris in 2018 — is evidence that Tehran uses its diplomatic missions abroad as a cover for terrorism.

“Iran’s decision to act as a pariah state and to use its diplomats to threaten the security of Europe and the life of its citizens must be met with maximum pressure and not maximum diplomacy by the EU and UK,” the MPs and Lord Alton of Liverpool said in the letter.

In a separate statement, Lord Alton said the Assadi ruling and investigation “show beyond any doubt that this was an act of state terrorism by the regime in Iran against the country’s organised pro-democracy opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), by targeting their conference, leader and supporters on European soil.”

Lord Alton denounced the invitation extended to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to speak at the virtual Europe-Iran Business Forum in March, and urged the UK to downgrade relations with Tehran and investigate its diplomatic mission in London for evidence of terrorist activity.

“A Global Britain must have the courage to take the lead in Europe to address the serious threats of Iran’s state terrorism,” the BCFIF said.

It added that until the UK has confronted the Iranian threat within the county, it should proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and sanction senior Iranian leaders such as Zarif and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Ali Safavi, an official with the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Arab News that “the concern over the Iranian regime’s illicit and dangerous nuclear weapons program shouldn’t dwarf other aspects of its malign and sinister behavior,” including “its renewed intelligence gathering and terrorist schemes on European soil.” 

He said Tehran’s terrorism in Europe, its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its human rights abuses at home and its expansionism across the Middle East “are part and parcel of the same policy and, as such, must be dealt with in their entirety. A piecemeal approach to all these nefarious actions will be to no avail.”

He added: “It’s time for the EU to revise its policy vis-a-vis the ruling theocracy, and stand with the Iranian people and not with their oppressors.”

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region

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In Michigan, Arab Americans courted by Biden angered by his Gaza policy

In Michigan, Arab Americans courted by Biden angered by his Gaza policy
US President Joe Biden speaks with Representative Rashida Taib (D-Mich), and Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich)(R), as he arrives at Detroit, Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Michigan on May 18, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 23 min 24 sec ago

In Michigan, Arab Americans courted by Biden angered by his Gaza policy

In Michigan, Arab Americans courted by Biden angered by his Gaza policy
  • Reuters/Ipsos polling showed that Biden won Muslim voters by 8 percentage points in his 2020 race against Republican President Donald Trump, who had been a stalwart defender of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on all fronts

DEARBORN, Michigan: When Joe Biden returned on Tuesday to one of the battleground states that handed him the presidential election, he was met with rage over how his administration has handled the sudden escalation of violence in the Middle East.
Biden, on a visit to a Ford Motor Co. facility in Dearborn, Michigan, to promote electric vehicles, faced protest over his administration’s approach to Israel as it attacks Gaza in response to rockets launched by Palestinian militants there eight days ago.
At a rally in Dearborn, the heart of Michigan’s Arab-American community, over 1,000 people gathered a few miles away from Biden’s event and booed at mentions of the Democratic president’s name.
Israeli air strikes have pounded densely populated Gaza day and night since the conflict flared on May 10, while residents in Israeli cities race for shelters or safe rooms, if they have them, every few hours or minutes to flee militant rockets.
Biden has privately pressed for a cease-fire in the more than week-long conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group in the Palestinian territories. His aides have said they are aggressively pursuing behind-the-scenes diplomacy to bring the conflict to an end.
That is not enough for some Democrats, who want Biden to denounce the disproportionate casualties suffered in the Palestinian territories during the conflict and to reconsider the weapons and other assistance it provides Israel, Washington’s closest ally in the turbulent region.
“He should not be supporting them,” said Dawood Ali, 21, at the demonstration.
Ali, who voted for Biden, said he regrets doing so.
Speakers on the stage shared similar sentiments, saying they felt courted — and then disrespected — by Biden.
Reuters/Ipsos polling showed that Biden won Muslim voters by 8 percentage points in his 2020 race against Republican President Donald Trump, who had been a stalwart defender of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on all fronts.
Turnout among those voters in Michigan rose 6 percentage points to 71 percent in 2020 from 65 percent in the 2016 presidential race, according to Emgage, a Muslim-American voting group.
Biden’s presidential campaign eagerly sought their support, given their sizeable numbers in swing states, like Michigan, which are closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

MEETINGS WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS
In recent days, the administration has worked to tamp down outrage in Arab-American and Muslim communities over its handling of the crisis.
On Monday, a senior aide to Biden, Cedric Richmond, met with Arab-American, Palestinian-American and Muslim community leaders.
Over the weekend, the White House scrapped its original lighthearted plan for an event celebrating the Muslim Eid holiday and instead offered somber wishes for peace and an update on the administration’s diplomatic efforts.
“Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live in safety and security and enjoy equal measure of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said at the event, which was boycotted by several Muslim groups.
On his trip to Michigan, Biden was met by US Representative Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress and a leading voice in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
She told the president that “Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated,” according to an account provided by a Tlaib ally.
“I pray that your grandmom and family are well,” Biden said to Tlaib at a public event later. “I promise you, I’m going to do everything to see that they are, on the West Bank. You’re a fighter, and God, thank you for being a fighter.”


France files Israel-Gaza cease-fire resolution at UN: presidency

France files Israel-Gaza cease-fire resolution at UN: presidency
French President Emanuel Macron, right, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi attend video conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II, on screen, to work on a concrete proposal for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 18, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 43 min 1 sec ago

France files Israel-Gaza cease-fire resolution at UN: presidency

France files Israel-Gaza cease-fire resolution at UN: presidency
  • The three countries agreed on the resolution during a video-conference

UNITED NATIONS: China’s UN ambassador says France is seeking a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants who control Gaza.
Zhang Jun, the current council president, confirmed that France’s UN Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere informed the council during the third round of closed consultations Tuesday on the conflict that a resolution was being prepared.
The United States has blocked the UN’s most powerful body, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security, from issuing a press statement calling for a halt to the violence, insisting that it would not help diplomatic efforts to end the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Diplomats said the 14 other council members supported the statement proposed by China, Tunisia and Norway. But Security Council press and presidential statements require approval of all 15 members. Resolutions, which are legally binding, do not. They require at least nine “yes” votes and no veto by a permanent member. This would put the United States in the position of voting in favor, abstaining, or vetoing a cease-fire call.
Zhang told reporters that China, Tunisia and Norway “haven’t given up our effort ... and that draft statement stays there on the table, and we will continue to make our effort, making sure that the Security Council is fulfilling its mandate and responsibilities.”
He said US President Joe Biden’s support for a cease-fire is “consistent with what we are proposing in the Security Council,” and China will support “all efforts facilitating the cease-fire, facilitating the ending of the crisis, and the coming back of peace in the Middle East.”
The proposed French resolution, drafted in coordination with Egypt and Jordan, could be circulated to council members as early as Wednesday and put to a quick vote, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private.

UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations is challenging the Biden administration to show results from its diplomatic efforts to achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, pointing to the US repeatedly blocking UN Security Council action on grounds it would interfere with its diplomatic efforts.
Riyad Mansour said “if the Biden administration can exert all of their pressure to bring an end to the aggression against our people, nobody is going to stand in their way.”
But he said the facts speak for themselves, and nobody has succeeded yet, so the US argument that a council statement would interfere with efforts to achieve a cease-fire “does not hold water.”
Mansour spoke at a press conference Tuesday as the Security Council again met in closed consultations at the request of China, Norway and Tunisia who have been pressing for the UN’s most powerful body to respond to the Gaza conflict, now in its second week. But council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussion was private, said the United States reiterated again that a statement would not help diplomatic efforts despite the 14 other members calling for council action.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Palestinian militants have been dealt “unexpected blows” in more than a week of Israeli bombardments in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu’s office released a video of the prime minister speaking in front of an F-16 fighter jet at an air force base in southern Israel on Tuesday.
“I have no doubt that we set them back many years,” Netanyahu said. “I am sure that all our enemies around us see the price we have levied for the aggression against us, and I am sure they will learn the lesson.”

BEIRUT — Scores of Palestinians and Lebanese protesting along the border with Israel threw rocks and climbed the cement wall snaking around the frontier, and drew tear gas from Israeli forces Tuesday.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said five people were injured and others suffered from smoke inhalation. A number of protesters in the Lebanese border village of Adaisseh had climbed the wall to plant Lebanese flags and the yellow flags of the militant Hezbollah group.
It was the fifth straight day of protests along the border as support for the Palestinians swelled against an Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds of protesters also marched in Lebanon’s capital on Tuesday in support of Gaza, which has been under Israeli airstrikes since last week. The march went from Beirut’s refugee camp of Mar Elias toward the city center.
On Monday, rockets fired from Lebanon fell inside Lebanese territory.
Last week, the Israeli army shot and killed one protester along the border. The Lebanese militia Hezbollah later identified the person killed as one of its fighters.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian Health Ministry says a Palestinian protester was killed and dozens more were wounded when gunshots rang out at a large demonstration in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli military says protesters opened fire at troops at Tuesday’s demonstration. It says two soldiers were shot in the leg and had to be hospitalized. Palestinian protesters often clash with Israeli troops in the West Bank but the demonstrators are rarely armed.
The Health Ministry identified the deceased as 25-year-old Muhammad Hamid. It says 46 others were wounded, including 16 with bullet wounds. It says four of them are in serious condition.
Hundreds of protesters had gathered on the outskirts of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered, to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza and Jerusalem. They burned tires and hurled stones at the Israeli troops, who fired tear gas at them.
At one point, seven shots rang out, but it was unclear where they came from. Israeli soldiers on a hillside opposite the protest could be seen taking cover behind mounds of sandbags.
Tensions are soaring over the latest Gaza war, as well as recent clashes in Jerusalem and cities across Israel. A general strike on Tuesday was observed by Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.

CAIRO — Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has announced the allocation of $500 million for reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip.
El-Sisi’s office said in a Facebook post Tuesday that Egyptian firms would contribute in the re-building efforts.
Egypt, which is leading mediation efforts to reach a cease-fire, has sent some two dozen trucks carrying humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Gaza through the Raffah crossing point.
It has also received wounded people from the latest round of violence to be treated in Egyptian hospitals.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Israel has given the United States information about its bombing of a Gaza building housing The Associated Press and other media outlets.
Israel had claimed that Hamas had a military intelligence office in the Gaza building which it leveled in a weekend airstrike. But Israel has not publicly provided any evidence backing up that claim. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would share any evidence of Hamas’ presence in the targeted building through intelligence channels.
Blinken said from Iceland on Tuesday that “we have received some further information through intelligence channels.” He declined to characterize the material, saying “that’s not something I can comment on.”
Press freedom groups condemned the attack, which leveled the building and marked a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media.
AP President Gary Pruitt has called for an independent investigation into the attack.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli police say two Thai workers inside Israel have been killed in a strike launched from the Gaza Strip.
Another seven people were wounded in that attack Tuesday afternoon that hit a packaging plant in southern Israel, authorities said.
Militants from Gaza have launched thousands of rockets at civilian targets in Israel since last week. Israel has responded with airstrikes against what it says are militant targets in Gaza.

VIENNA — Austria has summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain about comments in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted Austrian officials’ decision to fly the Israeli flag over government buildings as a signal of solidarity.
The Israeli flag was raised over the chancellery and foreign ministry in Vienna on Friday amid rocket attacks by the Hamas militant group on Israel. In a televised address to the nation on Monday, Erdogan said: “I curse the Austrian government which raised the Israeli flag over its (chancellery) building.”
He added that “flying the flag of a terrorist nation over such an official (building) is akin to living a life with terror. Presumably the Austrian government is trying to make Muslims pay the price of their own genocide against the Jews.” The latter is a reference to the fact that, after its annexation in 1938, Austria was part of Nazi Germany.
The Austria Press Agency reported that Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Turkey’s ambassador was summoned Tuesday over “these absurd comments by President Erdogan.”
Schallenberg added that “it won’t be possible to solve the Middle East conflict while foaming at the mouth.” He said that “instead of pouring oil on the fire, Turkey is urgently called on to contribute to de-escalation.”

GENEVA — The UN humanitarian agency is describing an increasingly dire situation inside the Gaza Strip as the war between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers rages with no end in sight.
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, says nearly 47,000 Palestinians have fled their homes during more than a week of heavy Israeli airstrikes. Hamas and other militants have fired more than 3,400 rockets into Israel.
Laerke says electricity across Gaza is only available for six to eight hours a day.
Citing Palestinian authorities, he said 132 buildings comprising 621 housing and commercial units have been destroyed in Gaza. He says another 316 housing units have been severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable.
Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Israel says the closures are needed to keep the group from rearming, while rights groups view it as a form of collective punishment.
Laerke welcomed Israel’s decision to open Gaza’s main commercial crossing, allowing essential supplies to flow in for the first time since war broke out on May 10.
COGAT, the Israeli military body that coordinates civilian affairs in Gaza, said the crossing was closed after a mortar attack, several hours after it had been opened in order to allow medical equipment in.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s foreign minister visited Turkey on Tuesday seeking to mobilize international pressure on Israel to halt attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The latest development comes a day after Pakistan’s lower house of parliament passed a unanimous resolution denouncing Israel’s attacks on Palestinian people.
Before leaving on his diplomatic mission, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan stands firmly with the Palestinians.
Qureshi will also travel to New York to address the UN General Assembly later this week on the matter.
A day before, Pakistan’s opposition parties and the government issued a call for nationwide rallies on Friday to express solidarity with Palestinians.
Pakistan is among those countries that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin says it is “imperative” to end the violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking at a ceremony with new foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin on Tuesday, Putin noted that “the outburst of confrontation between the Palestinians and the Israelis has already led to a large number of casualties among civilian population, including children.”
“We consider it imperative to end violent actions on both sides and to actively seek a solution based on a relevant resolution of the United Nations Security Council and universally recognized principles of international law,” Putin said.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden expressed support for a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers in a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But the American leader stopped short of demanding an immediate stop to the eight days of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket barrages that have killed more than 200 people, most of them Palestinian.
Biden’s carefully worded statement, in a White House readout Monday of his second known call to Netanyahu in three days as the attacks pounded on, came with the administration under pressure to respond more forcefully despite its determination to wrench the US foreign policy focus away from Middle East conflicts.
Biden’s comments on a cease-fire were open-ended and were similar to previous administration statements of support in principle for a cease-fire.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories went on strike in a rare collective action against Israel’s policies on Tuesday as Israeli strikes rained down on Gaza and militants fired dozens of rockets from the Hamas-ruled territory.
With the war in Gaza showing no sign of abating and truce efforts apparently stalled, the general strike and expected protests could again widen the conflict after a spasm of communal violence in Israel and protests across the occupied West Bank last week.
Tuesday’s airstrikes toppled a six-story building that housed libraries and educational centers belonging to the Islamic University, leaving behind a massive mound of rebar and concrete slabs. Desks, office chairs, books and computer wires could be seen in the debris. Residents sifted through the rubble, searching for their belongings.


Houthi offensive on Marib weakens as rebels suffer attritions, defections

A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021. (Reuters/File Photo)
A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 18 May 2021

Houthi offensive on Marib weakens as rebels suffer attritions, defections

A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Yemeni news media say Houthis concede to more than 500 deaths among fighters during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on April 13
  • Houthis move troops from less intense battlefields to Marib to shore up depleted forces after fighters abandon their recruitment campaigns, military source says

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthi military offensive on Yemen’s central city of Marib has tapered off as the rebels have suffered heavy casualties, defections and stiff resistance from Yemen’s army and allied tribesmen, three military sources told Arab News.

Houthis have been mounting a major offensive on the city of Marib since February in a bid to seize control of the government’s last bastion in the northern half of the country, which contains rich oil reserves, gas fields and big electricity stations. 

The offensive has claimed the lives of thousands of combatants on both sides and triggered a huge displacement from contested areas in and around Marib. 

This week, Yemeni military officials say the intensity of the Houthi offensive has largely eased up for the first time since February as the rebels have dispatched fewer fighters and military equipment to the battlefields. 

“The Houthi attacks on Marib have decreased in May compared to April,” Yemeni army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili told Arab News on Tuesday.

During the past four months, the Houthis have rejected local and international calls for stopping their deadly assault on Marib amid warnings that their invasion of the strategic city would aggravate the already desperate humanitarian situation in Yemen. The city hosts more than 2 million internally displaced people who have fled fighting or Houthi crackdown in their home cities and villages. 

Yemeni officials believe the Houthis in the Marib province have been weakened by heavy casualties, intensive airstrikes, attritions and local tribes’ reluctance to join the fighting. 

Col. Yahiya Al-Hatemi, director of Yemen's army’s military media, told Arab News that the growing number of deaths among Houthis in Marib has prompted many Yemenis to reject Houthi calls for fighting government troops. 

“The Houthi attacks (in Marib) have decreased. People have refused to join their ranks as a result of the massacres that took place in recent battles in Marib,” Al-Hatemi said. 

Arab coalition warplanes have long been credited for foiling Houthi attempts to advance on the ground by targeting rebels’ reinforcements and military locations, Yemeni military officials say.

The government’s news media said the Houthis have officially admitted to the deaths of more than 500 fighters during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on April 13.

Based on Houthi media reports, Al-Masdr Online, a popular Yemeni news site, said the rebels had arranged funeral processions for 522 fighters. That number includes many high-ranking military leaders who were killed in fighting with government troops or by Arab coalition airstrikes in Marib between April 13 and May 12.

A military source with contacts inside Houthi-controlled territories told Arab News the Houthis have moved troops from less intense battlefields to Marib to shore up their depleted forces after fighters abandoned their recruitment campaigns.

“Many people abandoned their weapons and returned to their houses after the Houthis lied about making victory in Marib. Those who are fighting in Marib came from other battlefields,” said the military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

At the same time, the Yemeni government and military officials have warned that the Houthis are trying to cash in on the growing resentment in Yemen toward the Israeli military operations in Gaza. They are using that conflict to recruit new fighters and raise funds for their weakened offensive in Marib.

“We warn citizens in the areas controlled by the Houthi militia against falling victim to the Houthi exploitation and misinformation which uses the Palestinian cause and the tragedy of our steadfast Palestinian people in the occupied territories for making political gains with the aim of prolonging the war in Yemen and continuing to kill Yemenis,” Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, wrote on Twitter.

The Yemeni government has once again threatened more military operations if the rebels do not halt their offensive on Marib and continue to reject peace initiatives. 

During a meeting with French Ambassador to Yemen Jean-Marie Safa in Riyadh on Monday, the speaker of the Yemeni parliament, Sultan Al-Barkani, warned that the Yemeni government could intensify military options until the Houthis accept UN- and US-brokered peace ideas and cease their attacks on Yemeni civilians.


General strike against Israel ‘shows Palestinian unity’

A man smokes near closed shops at a market in Jerusalem's old city, during a general strike called by Palestinians (Reuters)
A man smokes near closed shops at a market in Jerusalem's old city, during a general strike called by Palestinians (Reuters)
Updated 18 May 2021

General strike against Israel ‘shows Palestinian unity’

A man smokes near closed shops at a market in Jerusalem's old city, during a general strike called by Palestinians (Reuters)
  • Haifa-based Arab Follow-up Committee arranges Tuesday protest in response to Israeli attacks on Gaza and the West Bank
  • Different Palestinian factions join the strike as laborers and professionals stay home in an attempt to paralyze the Israeli economy

AMMAN: Residents of Gaza and the West Bank held a historic general strike on Tuesday that reflected the unity of the Palestinian people.

The Haifa-based Arab Follow-up Committee arranged the protest as the call was picked up by all the Palestinian communities that have been targeted by unprecedented and unrelenting Israeli shelling over the past two weeks.

Palestinians laborers and professionals stayed home in an attempt to paralyze the Israeli economy. The Committee of East Jerusalem Merchants put out a statement calling on all shops to close as Palestinians of all walks of life adhered to the protest call.

Mohammad Baraka, head of the Higher Follow-up Committee of Arab Citizens in Israel, told Arab News that the strike idea was agreed upon in a meeting in Jaffa on Sunday.

“As soon as we announced our decision, we got calls from different Palestinian factions, led by Fatah, which wanted to join the strike call,” he said. “Others also followed and the strike encompassed all of historic Palestine.”

Officials said the strike was in response to the brutal Israeli attack on the Al-Aqsa compound, Israeli efforts to evict Palestinian families from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and the “attacks against our people in Israel.”

According to Baraka, more than 1,000 Palestinian youth have been imprisoned and 200 have been charged during the conflict while only 150 Jewish people have been picked up and none have been charged.

“The deeper meaning of this strike is that anyone who wants to break the Palestinian spirit because of the weakness of the Arab world will be disappointed,” Baraka said. “Armies may lose a war but people never lose.”

Vera Baboun, former mayor of Bethlehem and member of the Palestine National Council, called the strike historic. 

“The May 18 strike is a protest of our dignity that shines the light on 73 years of violations to our people’s rights in the occupied territories and in the 1948 areas,” she said.

Khalil El-Halabim, whose son was jailed for allegedly diverting money to Hamas, told Arab News that the strike has united all Palestinians. 

“Our goals are clearly united now,” he said. “This strike has illustrated the fact that the Palestinian cause has returned to center stage on the international community’s political agenda.”

Adnan Tarabshe, a Galilee-based theater actor, told Arab News that the strike reflected Palestinian anger but had a much more significant purpose. 

“It destroyed the claims by (former fourth Israeli premier) Golda Meir that older people will die and the young will forget,” he said. “The Palestinian people are here to stay and will not forget.”

Ghassan Khatib, the former Palestinian minister of labor, said the strike was a rejection of the racist Israeli policy toward Palestinians. 

“It is a reflection of the failure of Israel in absorbing Palestinians in the 1948 areas or oppressing Jerusalemites and Palestinians in the West Bank,” he told Arab News.

Khatib blamed the US for the Israeli arrogance “that we are witnessing now.”

Salah Zuheika, a political activist in Jerusalem, compared the strike to the Land Day Protest that was held on March 30, 1976, which is an important date on the Palestinian national calendar.

Jerusalem-based Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna told Arab News that the strike sent a message to all Palestinians to protest against unjust Israeli policies, especially the destruction in Gaza. 

“Children and elderly, men and women are all being attacked,” he said. “This strike was a civilized and effective way to send a message to the world that we seek peace with justice.”

William Tarazi, a Gaza-based businessman, told Arab News: “The strike was a simple response. We do not need only a strike or protest. We need a holistic approach that includes political and military actions as well as protests.”

Radi Jirai, a Fatah activist who supports the one-state solution, told Arab News that the strike was another sign that the Palestinian national identity has survived despite Zionist attempts. 

“This unity of Palestinians paves the way for a new Palestinian strategy based on the unity of the people and land in Palestine,” he said. “It is the defeat of the Zionist program and stresses the need for a single democratic state to be established on the ruins of the Zionist apartheid.”

Tourism businesswoman from Jerusalem, Margo Tarazi, believed the strike showed Israel that the Palestinian people are united. 

“Israel and our leaders have seen that after 73 years, the people of Palestine are united from the sea to the river (the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea) and we will get our legitimate rights through our unity,” she told Arab News.


Egypt allocates $500m to rebuild Gaza

Egypt allocates $500m to rebuild Gaza
Updated 18 May 2021

Egypt allocates $500m to rebuild Gaza

Egypt allocates $500m to rebuild Gaza
  • El-Sisi has ordered the government to coordinate with Palestinians in Gaza

CAIRO: Egypt is allocating $500 million for reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip following Israeli airstrikes, with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi saying that specialist Egyptian firms would contribute to the rebuilding efforts.

“We will work to solve the crisis,” El-Sisi said on the sidelines of a conference in Paris. “There is hope for collective action to end the conflict.”

El-Sisi has ordered the government to coordinate with Palestinians in Gaza to find out what their needs are and fulfill them.

Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing through which travelers, students and those wishing to receive medical treatment have begun arriving.

Egypt is leading mediation efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians.