Palestinian rivals agree on poll ‘code of conduct’

Khalil Al-Hayya and Ruwhi Mushtaha are the representatives of Hamas in the talks with Fatah on the Palestinian elections. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
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Khalil Al-Hayya and Ruwhi Mushtaha are the representatives of Hamas in the talks with Fatah on the Palestinian elections. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
Islamic Jihad ranking members Daoud Shehab, Khaled al-Batsh, and Muhammad al-Hindi comprise the movements delegation in the talks with Fatah ahead of the Palestinian electionsh. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
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Islamic Jihad ranking members Daoud Shehab, Khaled al-Batsh, and Muhammad al-Hindi comprise the movements delegation in the talks with Fatah ahead of the Palestinian electionsh. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
Maryam Abu Daqqa (left) and Mahmoud al-Zaq comprise the Fatah delegation in the talks with Hamas on the Palestinian elections. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
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Maryam Abu Daqqa (left) and Mahmoud al-Zaq comprise the Fatah delegation in the talks with Hamas on the Palestinian elections. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
Palestinian members of Central Elections Commission register voters for the upcoming elections in Gaza City amid calls for a transparent democratic process. (File/AFP)
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Palestinian members of Central Elections Commission register voters for the upcoming elections in Gaza City amid calls for a transparent democratic process. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 March 2021

Palestinian rivals agree on poll ‘code of conduct’

Palestinian rivals agree on poll ‘code of conduct’
  • Cairo talks end with focus on national unity, election integrity

CAIRO: Rival Palestinian factions ended their talks in Cairo with an agreement on a code of conduct for elections described as a major step on Palestine’s “national democratic path.”

In their closing statement, Hamas and Fatah delegates praised Egyptian efforts to end Palestine’s longstanding divisions, saying the electoral process “expresses the aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

Palestinians will go to the polls on May 22 to elect a new Legislative Council, a new president on July 31, and members of the National Council on Aug. 31.

Elections were last held in 2006, with Hamas winning a majority, while the most recent presidential poll took place in 2005.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, announced the election dates in a presidential decree on Jan. 15.

“The meeting discussed all the national issues and the dangers facing the Palestinian issue, as well as ways to strengthen the national partnership,” the factions said in their statement.

FASTFACT

Palestinian factions signed a code of conduct, in which they affirmed their keenness to conduct the electoral process in all its stages with transparency and integrity.

The statement also said that participants had agreed to “conduct the electoral process with high transparency and integrity that expresses the aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

It added: “The Presidency of the Palestinian National Council presented a detailed report on its vision of the status of the council, where those present discussed the mechanisms of forming the new National Council and the number of its members within the framework of strengthening and activating the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

Participants affirmed the legal and political unity of the Palestinian territories.

They also stressed the need for the elections to take place in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to confront any obstacles, particularly in Jerusalem.

The closing statement said that the Palestinian factions stressed the necessity of completing the formation of the unified leadership of the comprehensive popular resistance and activating it in accordance with the statement of the recent meeting of secretaries-general.

The factions signed a code of conduct, in which they affirmed their keenness to conduct the electoral process in all its stages with transparency and integrity, and to be dominated by honest competition between the candidate lists in a way that serves and enhances the national unity and the general interest of the Palestinians.

The charter included several provisions, most notably full compliance with the regulations, instructions and decisions issued by the Central Elections Commission, regarding the conduct of the electoral process in its various stages in a manner that achieves integrity, transparency and the model that speaks for the Palestinian people and their sacrifices.

The factions also stipulated full compliance with the provisions of Law No. 1 of 2007 regarding general elections and its amendments by Decree Law No. 1 of 2021 and the relevant presidential decrees No. 3 of 2021 regarding calling for legislative, presidential and National Council elections.

The charter also stressed the importance of cooperating with the Central Elections Commission in its efforts to organize free and fair elections and respecting the role of the Palestinian police in securing the electoral process in all its stages and adhering to its decisions.

He stressed the importance of respecting the role of local, Arab and international observers and cooperating with them in performing their monitoring role.


Egypt, Algeria agree on ‘full support’ for Tunisian president

In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 file photo, Tunisian President Kais Saied waves to bystanders as he strolls along the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia. (AP)
In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 file photo, Tunisian President Kais Saied waves to bystanders as he strolls along the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia. (AP)
Updated 19 min 34 sec ago

Egypt, Algeria agree on ‘full support’ for Tunisian president

In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 file photo, Tunisian President Kais Saied waves to bystanders as he strolls along the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia. (AP)
  • Nile dispute, anti-terror policies also discussed in Cairo meeting hosted by Egyptian leader

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra agreed to support embattled Tunisian leader Kais Saeid in a bid to maintain stability in the country.

The consensus was reached during a meeting in Cairo after the two sides discussed recent developments in the nearby country.

As a result of the meeting, El-Sisi agreed with Lamamra to “fully support” President Saied.

The announcement came in an official statement following the talks.

Both sides agreed to implement the “will and choices” of the Tunisian people in order to preserve the security of the North African country.

El-Sisi also affirmed Egypt’s keenness to develop relations with Algeria in various fields and boost cooperation, construction and development between the two countries.

He also reiterated his firm stance over Egypt’s “historical rights to the Nile waters” and the country’s position on maintaining its water security.

El-Sisi urged the importance of engaging in the negotiation process to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, according to a statement from the official spokesman for the presidency.

The statement said that the meeting of El-Sisi and Lamamra also focused on developments of common concern, especially the situation in Libya.

The two parties discussed political and security coordination and the exchange of information in regard to combating terrorism and extremist ideologies, which pose a threat to the entire region.

 


Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen

Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen
Updated 02 August 2021

Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen

Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen
  • Local and international rights groups have demanded independent investigations into the deaths

ALEXANDRIA: The Houthis have been accused of torturing hundreds of prisoners to death since taking power in late 2014.

Yemen’s Human Rights Ministry said that 350 prisoners, including 33 women, had died from extreme torture and deliberate medical negligence during the last seven years. It added that the militia was still using the same harsh methods on prisoners in areas under their control.

Activists warned inmates were being subjected to human rights abuses in Houthi-controlled prisons and that they could die if the international community did not intervene.

In a statement seen by Arab News, the ministry said it had documented 1,635 cases of mental and physical torture, deprivation of life-saving medical treatment and execution of prisoners in jails controlled by the Houthis in Sanaa, Hajjah, Thamar and other provinces.

The Mothers of Abductees Association, an umbrella organization for female relatives of war prisoners, said that its figures of the number of deaths inside Houthi prisons were close to the government’s figures.

Amat Al-Salam Al-Hajj, the organization’s chairwoman, told Arab News that 319 had died from torture inside Houthi prisons.

The ministry and rights groups said the latest confirmed victim of Houthi abuse was a prisoner called Mohsen Mohammed Al-Qadhi, who was reportedly executed inside a Thamar prison last week.

The ministry said he was abducted from his home in Dhamar city a year ago. Large bruises on his body indicated the physical torture he had been subjected to.

“This crime is an extension of a series of crimes and grave violations committed by the Houthi militia against the kidnapped and forcibly displaced men, women and children in their detention centers, who are subjected to the worst types of physical and psychological torture,” the ministry said.

Local and international rights groups have demanded independent investigations into the deaths.

The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties condemned the killing of Al-Qadhi and accused the militia of violating international laws by abusing prisoners.

It disputed the Houthis’ claims that he had died from an unintentional shooting.

Rights Radar, a group established in the Netherlands by Yemeni activists, also called for an independent probe into his death.

Former prisoners and former officials at Houthi-controlled prisons told Arab News that prisoner abuse was rife, saying they had heard stories of many prisoners committing suicide to escape horrific treatment.

Essam Balghaith, a Yemeni journalist who was released from a Houthi jail during a prisoner swap, said torture was widespread and that many inmates tried to kill themselves as they could not bear torture.

“I heard about many cases of suicide attempts by prisoners due to extreme torture,” he told Arab News. “I witnessed the death of a prisoner who was brutally tortured and deprived of medication.”

Ahmed Arman, Yemen’s minister of human rights, urged international rights groups to expose Houthi crimes against prisoners and pressure the rebels to release them.

“The international community and international organizations that work in Yemen must be transparent about Houthi violations and crimes,” he told Arab News.


Israel’s top court postpones making decision on eviction of Jerusalemites

Israel’s top court postpones making decision on eviction of Jerusalemites
Updated 02 August 2021

Israel’s top court postpones making decision on eviction of Jerusalemites

Israel’s top court postpones making decision on eviction of Jerusalemites
  • Activists fear postponement will only delay another eviction attempt
  • Jordanian government documents are a game-changer in defeating legal case, says anonymous Palestinian official

AMMAN: The Israeli Supreme Court has postponed a ruling on the case of four Palestinian families who are fighting eviction orders from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The court held a hearing on the case of the Palestinian families facing expulsion by Israeli settlers in annexed east Jerusalem, an issue that was part of the start of the violent conflict in May.

Previous attempts by the court to make the families stay as protected tenants were rejected by the Palestinians through their lawyers.

A senior Palestinian government official intimately involved in the case told Arab News on condition of anonymity that the documents presented by the Jordanian government in recent days were a game-changer.

“The authenticated documents presented by the government of Jordan showing that the Palestinian homes were about to be registered when the 1967 war took place apparently complicated the attempts by the Israeli court to rule in favor of the Jewish settlers.

“Jordan’s latest documents were the game-changer in this case,” the source told Arab News.

They added: “It is very difficult now for the Israeli government to justify this ethnic cleansing of homes built by the Jordanian government in agreement with the UN for the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah.”

The decision late on Monday followed day-long protests outside the west Jerusalem court building,

Protesters raised signs in Arabic, English and Hebrew calling for “justice” to Sheikh Jarrah, demand an “end to the Israeli apartheid regime” and stating “we are not leaving our land.”

Jerusalem Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna told Arab News that the delay was made to keep the story quiet.

“It may take a month or two but the postponement does not mean cancellation of the eviction order. They might surprise us with something else at a later stage.”

Jamal Dajani, former director of communications in the office of the Palestinian prime minister, told Arab News that the postponement is due to the success of the daily demonstrations, international media, social media, and political pressure.

“The concern is that the Israeli authorities are just kicking the can down the road, waiting for the right moment ... to evict the Palestinian families. The pressure must continue and activists must remain vigilant.”

Dajani, an east Jerusalem resident, said that what is needed is a cancellation, not postponements.  

“A fair and just ruling would be to cancel eviction orders — I’m afraid that this is just a temporary band-aid.”

Sami Abu Shehadeh, a member of the Israeli Knesset, is the head of the Balad/Tajamu party. The member of the Israeli Parliament for the Joint List tweeted that any decision regarding Sheikh Jarrah must take into consideration that east Jerusalem is occupied, that settlements are war crimes and that Israeli laws negate restitution of pre-1948 Palestinian property.

Shehadeh, who is a Palestinian historian, said that the solution is simple: “Respect international law, end the occupation and achieve equal rights.”


Italy FM tells Libya: ‘We are at your side’

“Italy is at your side, we will continue to support you,” Luigi Di Maio (pictured) told Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah during his fifth visit to Tripoli since the beginning of the year. (AFP/File Photo)
“Italy is at your side, we will continue to support you,” Luigi Di Maio (pictured) told Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah during his fifth visit to Tripoli since the beginning of the year. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 02 August 2021

Italy FM tells Libya: ‘We are at your side’

“Italy is at your side, we will continue to support you,” Luigi Di Maio (pictured) told Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah during his fifth visit to Tripoli since the beginning of the year. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Di Maio’s fifth visit to country in 2021 sees talks in Tripoli, Benghazi and Tobruk
  • Reveals donation of 240k coronavirus vaccines and urges stability, cooperation

ROME: Italy will continue its support for Libya, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has told top Government of National Unity officials during meetings in Tripoli, Benghazi and Tobruk.

“Italy is at your side, we will continue to support you,” Di Maio told Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah during his fifth visit to Tripoli since the beginning of the year.

Di Maio also met President of the Presidential Council Mohamed Yunus Al-Menfi, his deputies Abdullah Al-Lafi and Musa Al-Kuni, President of the High Council of State Khalid Al-Mishri and Minister of Foreign Affairs Najla El-Mangush.

A spokesman in the Italian foreign ministry told Arab News that Di Maio visited Libya “to discuss key topics, such as furthering the dialogue on the UN-led stabilization and institutional transition process, which Italy supports with determination, to encourage the renewed commitment of all Libyan parties to concrete progress toward achieving several key objectives, including the holding of elections on Dec. 24, the implementation of the ceasefire, the adoption of the unified budget and national reconciliation and, last but not least, promoting the many initiatives underway for the broad-based strengthening of the bilateral partnership.”

The spokesman added that the minister’s visit was “clear confirmation of Italy’s steadfast commitment to stabilizing Libya, which has taken an important step forward with the reopening of the Sirte-Misurata coastal road announced on the eve of the visit.”

Di Maio’s visit comes just weeks after the reopening of the Italian Consulate General in Benghazi.

No details were disclosed concerning the recent intra-Libyan talks — held in Rome in the last week of July — on adopting a legal framework for the country’s next general elections, scheduled for Dec. 24 this year.

However, an Italian diplomatic source said: “The issue was certainly one of those that was covered during today’s meetings.”

The talks also focused on joint efforts to revive economic cooperation between the two countries across key sectors, including infrastructure, energy and transport.

“This was also in light of the positive results of the Business Forum hosted at the foreign ministry on May 31, in the presence of Dbeibah,” an Italian source said.

The visit also covered proposals for cooperation in the fields of migration, health and culture.

At the end of a meeting with Dbeibah, Di Maio announced an Italian donation to Libya of 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

The delivery will “help the strategy set by the Libyan government to fight the pandemic, which is hitting hard here as well,” the minister said.

Since the pandemic began, Libya has recorded 256,328 coronavirus cases and a death toll of 3,579. The country has seen a recent increase in cases of several thousand per day, partly because of increased testing.


Wildfires blaze on in drought-hit Turkey as criticism grows

Wildfires blaze on in drought-hit Turkey as criticism grows
Updated 02 August 2021

Wildfires blaze on in drought-hit Turkey as criticism grows

Wildfires blaze on in drought-hit Turkey as criticism grows
  • Seven fires were still burning, fanned by temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, strong winds and low humidity, Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said
  • Meteorology maps show areas affected by fires have suffered severe drought in recent months

MARMARIS, Turkey: Firefighters using planes and helicopters, and locals with buckets of water, battled wildfires raging for a sixth day near southern coastal resorts in drought-hit Turkey on Monday.
Meanwhile the government faced fresh criticism of its handling the disaster.
Seven fires were still burning, fanned by temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104°F), strong winds and low humidity, Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said.
Meteorology maps show areas affected by fires have suffered severe drought in recent months.
Drone footage filmed by Reuters showed grey hillsides near the resort of Marmaris where fires left smoldering buildings and blackened tree trunks.
While 16 planes and 51 helicopters tackled blazes across a swathe of southwest Turkey, villagers carrying water containers up a hill to fight a fire near Marmaris said the government was not doing enough to help them.
“We are here as the entire village, from the locals to others. We didn’t run or anything, so the government must see this and also not run away. It must send some of its planes here,” a woman called Gulhan told Reuters.
Engin Ozkoc, a senior figure in the main opposition CHP, called on Pakdemirli to resign for failing to adequately prepare.
“You don’t deserve that ministry. You didn’t foresee this and buy firefighting planes,” he said, criticizing the amount of aerial resources available.
The European Union said it had helped mobilize three fire-fighting planes on Sunday. One from Croatia and two from Spain joined teams from Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, rejected criticism of the government’s handling of the fires and condemned a social media campaign calling for foreign help.
“Our Turkey is strong. Our state is standing tall,” Altun said on Twitter, describing most information about the fires on social media as “fake news.” “All our losses will be compensated for.”
Eight people have been killed in the wildfires, but there were no reports of further casualties on Monday.
Since Wednesday, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and some tourists have left their hotels, although Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said holidaymakers had returned within hours.
The wildfires are another blow to Turkey’s tourism industry following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bulent Bulbuloglu, head of the South Aegean Hoteliers Association, said 10 percent of reservations had been canceled in Bodrum and Marmaris. Others had cut their visits short.