President Abbas rebuffs Israeli intelligence chief

President Abbas rebuffs Israeli intelligence chief
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas used an Arab proverb to rebuff attempts by Israelis to intervene in the Palestinian elections. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 22 March 2021

President Abbas rebuffs Israeli intelligence chief

President Abbas rebuffs Israeli intelligence chief
  • Hamas, which had acceded not to contest the presidential elections, then agreed to allow for legislative polls to take place two months before presidential elections

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas used an Arab proverb to rebuff attempts by Israelis to intervene in the Palestinian elections.

Jibril Rajoub, the secretary of the Fatah movement, said the head of Shabak (internal Israeli elections), Nadav Argaman, tried to stop their efforts to create a joint list with Hamas.

“He visited the Palestinian presidential compound and made threats to all of us,” Rajoub said on Palestine TV. The Israeli official who said he was carrying a message from the Israeli prime minister was accompanied by an American official. Palestinian sources say that they believe the US official is part of a US intelligence service.

Abbas reportedly answered the Israeli official, who is fluent in Arabic, using an Arabic proverb: “Drink your coffee and may God be with you.” It is a polite way of rejecting the request.

Lina Haddad, an expert on Arab proverbs, said that people use proverbs as an indirect way of avoiding saying something harsh.

“He wanted to send a message that I am being kind to you by serving you coffee as a guest of mine but do not abuse my hospitality,” Haddad told Arab News.

Rajoub fiercely criticized Argaman’s boss, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, saying he “is worse than Mussolini.” 

The idea of a joint Fatah-Hamas list was first mentioned in the Istanbul talks between Rajoub and the deputy head of Hamas, Saleh Aruri, in 2020.

Hamas, which had acceded not to contest the presidential elections, then agreed to allow for legislative polls to take place two months before presidential elections.

Former Fatah central committee member Naser Al-Qudwa issued a strongly worded statement opposing the idea regarding the joint list, calling it “undemocratic” and that it “smells of personal gains on the account of the people.” 

Al-Qudwa has since created the Palestinian Democratic Assembly and is planning to run on a non-Fatah list of independent Palestinians. Abbas has ordered that Al-Qudwa be removed from the Fatah movement and has fired him as the head of the Yasser Arafat Foundation.

Mohammad Daraghmeh, a veteran Palestinian journalist, told Arab News that the joint list faces many problems, especially with Hamas’ demand to have the same number of seats as Fatah. Daraghmeh said the Israeli security chief also threatened to stop the elections and warned against the efforts by Palestinians to try Israelis for war crimes.

Fadi Elasalameen, senior fellow with the American Security Project, told Arab News that he was not surprised that Israel does not want Hamas in the West Bank. “But, I find it hard to believe that Abbas, who depends entirely on Israeli security to stay in power in the West Bank, would speak in such a way to the Israeli head of Shabak. It is election season and it does not hurt Abbas to flex his political muscle.”

Three lists, including one by the Democratic Front for Palestine, have officially registered to run. The window of nominations closes on March 31.

Salam Fayyad, Al-Qudwa, and others have yet to propose their list for the elections. Efforts are also being made to unify left-wing Palestinian factions into a single list.


Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
Updated 59 min 44 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.