Bennett meets Sisi on first Egypt visit by Israeli PM in decade

Bennett meets Sisi on first Egypt visit by Israeli PM in decade
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sharm El-Sheikh on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 14 September 2021

Bennett meets Sisi on first Egypt visit by Israeli PM in decade

Bennett meets Sisi on first Egypt visit by Israeli PM in decade
  • El-Sisi and Bennett will discuss 'efforts to revive the peace process'
  • First visit to Egypt by an Israeli PM in over a decade

CAIRO: Israel’s Naftali Bennett met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Monday, on the first visit to the North African country by a prime minister of the Jewish state in over a decade.
El-Sisi was hosting Bennett in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss “efforts to revive the peace process” between the Israelis and Palestinians, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, in 1979 became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after decades of enmity.
In May, it played a key role in brokering a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip, after 11 days of deadly fighting.
Egypt regularly receives leaders of Hamas as well as of its political rival the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmud Abbas, while maintaining strong diplomatic, security and economic ties with Israel.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday proposed improving living conditions in Gaza and building new infrastructure in exchange for calm from Hamas, aiming to solve the “never-ending rounds of violence.”
But “it won’t happen without the support and involvement of our Egyptian partners and without their ability to talk to everyone involved,” he said.
Bennett’s visit comes about 10 days after Abbas was in Cairo for talks with El-Sisi.
Monday’s talks mark “an important step in light of the growing security and economic relations between the two countries, and their mutual concern over the situation in Gaza,” Cairo-based analyst Nael Shama told AFP.
It also fits with “Egypt’s plans to revive the political talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he added.
The last meeting between an Egyptian president and an Israeli premier dates back to January 2011 when Hosni Mubarak received Benjamin Netanyahu, weeks before Mubarak was toppled in a popular revolution.
In the political turbulence that followed, relations between the two countries deteriorated as protests were staged outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo in 2011.
The one-year reign of Egypt’s Islamist president Muhammad Mursi from 2012 also proved to be icy, with Israel suspicious of his Muslim Brotherhood’s close ties to Hamas.
El-Sisi has again positioned Egypt as a regional bulwark of stability, echoing the frequent peace summits overseen by Mubarak before his ouster.
Israel and Egypt are two of Washington’s main allies in the Middle East and are the largest recipients of US military aid, and they have worked together on security issues.
El-Sisi, in a 2019 interview on CBS, acknowledged Egypt’s army was working closely with Israel in combating “terrorists” in the restive North Sinai.
He underscored Cairo’s “wide range of cooperation with the Israelis.”
The relationship developed after Egypt regained sovereignty over the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Egyptian forces have for years fought an insurgency in the Sinai, led mainly by a local affiliate of the Daesh group.
The two neighbors have also deepened their ties in the field of energy. Since last year, Egypt has received natural gas from Israel to liquefy it and re-export it to Europe.

Bennett’s visit follows on from a “long working relationship” that El-Sisi maintained with Netanyahu, said Shama, author of a book on Egypt’s foreign policy.
The right-wing religious nationalist Bennett took office in June, ending Netanyahu’s 12 straight years as Israel’s premier.
“Cairo intends once again to signal to the Biden administration its indispensable role in stabilising the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Shama said.
Popular sentiment on the ground in Egypt has also toned down from being resolutely hostile toward Israel, amid a more severe crackdown on dissent under El-Sisi.
“El-Sisi has succeeded in taming the opposition and absorbing other political movements,” said Cairo University political science professor Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid.
Israel last year signed normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan under the aegis of Donald Trump’s administration.

DNA matches body to Alaska man last seen alive in 1979

DNA matches body to Alaska man last seen alive in 1979
Updated 02 December 2021

DNA matches body to Alaska man last seen alive in 1979

DNA matches body to Alaska man last seen alive in 1979

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: The remains of a man found on Fire Island just west of Anchorage in 1989 have been identified through DNA and genome sequencing, Alaska State Troopers said Wednesday.

Troopers said the victim was Michael Allison Beavers, who owned an excavation business in Chugiak. He was reported missing in 1980.
The decadeslong investigation started when human remains were discovered July 24, 1989. An autopsy concluded it was a Caucasian male between the ages of 35 and 50, and evidence found on the remains indicated the death was criminal, troopers said. Officials said it appeared the remains had been on the beach for at least a year, but the date of death couldn’t be determined.
A DNA profile entered into the national missing persons database in 2003 came back with no match.
Earlier this year, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Investigation Unit reopened the case. Bone samples retained in the case were sent to a private lab, where DNA was extracted and genome sequencing was used to create a comprehensive DNA profile.
That was uploaded to a genealogy database and linked to other people, including some with ties to Alaska. Later, a DNA sample taken from a close relative confirmed Beavers’ identity.
Beavers’ spouse reported him missing two months after he was last seen alive, in November 1979.
Beavers, 40, left his home in Chugiak to travel to Seattle by car to contact a business associate. He never arrived, troopers said.
The investigation into his disappearance stalled and closed in 1982. Ten years later, he was declared dead.
Troopers say the investigation into his death continues, and anyone with information about his disappearance and death should contact authorities.
In October, troopers were able to use the same method to identify Robin Peleky, one of the unidentified victims of Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen who was killed in the early 1980s.
Hansen abducted woman, many of them sex workers, off the streets of Anchorage, and hunted them in the wilderness north of Anchorage. In total, 12 bodies have been found, and 11 of those have been identified, troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel told The Associated Press in October.
The only person not yet identified is known only as Eklutna Annie, who is believed to have been Hansen’s first victim, McDaniel said. Her body was found near Eklutna Lake north of Anchorage.
Genetic genealogy efforts are underway in hopes of identifying her, Randy McPherron, an Alaska State Troopers cold case investigator, said in October.

WHO warns of ‘toxic mix’ as EU chief mulls mandatory Covid jabs

WHO warns of ‘toxic mix’ as EU chief mulls mandatory Covid jabs
Updated 02 December 2021

WHO warns of ‘toxic mix’ as EU chief mulls mandatory Covid jabs

WHO warns of ‘toxic mix’ as EU chief mulls mandatory Covid jabs
  • The WHO says it could take several weeks to understand whether or not omicron is more transmissible.

GENEVA: The WHO issued stern warnings Wednesday on the dangers of vaccination apathy and the European Union put mandatory jabs on the table, as the United States registered its first case of the fast-spreading omicron strain of the coronavirus.
The new variant, first reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa a week ago, has quickly popped up across continents, darkening economic forecasts and deepening fears of another difficult winter in the northern hemisphere.
“Globally, we have a toxic mix of low vaccine coverage, and very low testing — a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reminding the world that the delta variant “accounts for almost all cases.”
“We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from delta. And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and save lives from omicron,” he said.
The WHO says it could take several weeks to understand whether or not omicron is more transmissible, and whether it results in more severe disease — as well as how effective current treatments and vaccines are against the variant.
Its detection and spread, however, have highlighted that the now nearly two-year global fight against Covid-19 is far from over.
In Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was “understandable and appropriate” to discuss how to “encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination” in the bloc — although only individual member states can impose vaccine mandates.
Austria has already said it will make Covid jabs compulsory next February, Germany is considering a similar approach, and Greece said Tuesday it would mandate vaccines for over-60s.
The United States, officially the world’s hardest-hit country, announced it had detected its first omicron case, a fully vaccinated traveler from South Africa who is recovering from mild symptoms.
Top American infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci stressed that fully vaccinated adults should seek a booster when eligible to give themselves the best possible protection.
“Our experience with variants such as the delta variant is that even though the vaccine isn’t specifically targeted to the delta variant, when you get a high enough level of an immune response, you get spillover protection,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also recorded their first cases of omicron, making the Gulf the latest region to be affected.


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control meanwhile recommended that children aged five to 11 who are at risk of severe Covid should be considered a “priority group” for vaccination.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned omicron threatens the world’s recovery and lowered growth estimates for 2021 from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent.
The Paris-based OECD said the recovery had “lost momentum and is becoming increasingly imbalanced” and would remain “precarious” until vaccines were deployed worldwide.
omicron has prompted governments around the globe to reimpose travel restrictions, mostly targeting southern Africa. Japan has suspended new flight bookings into the country.
On Wednesday, UN Secretary Guterres Antonio Guterres added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism against such bans, calling them deeply unfair and punitive” as well as “ineffective.”
Rising infection rates have already seen some European governments reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing, social-distancing measures, curfews or lockdowns in a desperate attempt to limit hospitalizations, but leaving businesses fearing another grim Christmas.
Portugal, which has Europe’s highest vaccination rate, reintroduced mask mandates in indoor settings, and aims to administer a third Covid jab to almost one-fifth of its population by the end of the year.
From Wednesday, every adult in Italy became eligible for a Covid booster shot, previously only open to those aged over 40.
Despite new restrictions recently introduced in Denmark, the country on Wednesday registered a record number of new Covid cases with 5,120 infections in the last 24 hours.
Even as governments acted unilaterally in imposing travel restrictions, WHO member states came together in Geneva to work on an international accord on handling the next pandemic.
An intergovernmental negotiating body will be established to reach an agreement on responding to future pandemics with a first meeting due before March 1, 2022.
While the European summer of fleeting Covid freedoms may be over, in the southern hemisphere, Pacific nation Fiji ended 615 days of international isolation on Wednesday and reopened to tourists.
Traditional dancers in grass skirts welcomed waving holidaymakers from Sydney, the first of an expected flood of desperately needed tourists in the coming weeks.

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League
Updated 02 December 2021

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League
  • Chelsea remained a point ahead of Manchester City and two clear of Liverpool on a night when all three teams won

WATFORD: Chelsea stayed top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Watford on Wednesday in a match that was halted for 32 minutes in the first half after a spectator suffered cardiac arrest.
Substitute Hakim Ziyech grabbed the winner for the leaders in the 72nd minute, converting a cross from Mason Mount — the England midfielder who had put Chelsea in front in the 29th.
By then, the teams had been taken off by the referee because of the medical emergency in the stands that happened after about 13 minutes. The incident happened on the side of the field where Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso was stationed and he appeared to alert the referee and the medical staff on the touchline.
The spectator was stabilized and taken away on a stretcher to applause from the crowd.
Emmanuel Dennis equalized for Watford in the 43rd after Ruben Loftus-Cheek — one of a number of fringe players handed a start by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel because of injuries — was dispossessed in the center circle by Moussa Sissoko, who drove forward and set up his teammate to score.
Chelsea remained a point ahead of Manchester City and two clear of Liverpool on a night when all three teams won.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his weakened team was “lucky” to come away with all three points
“That’s not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match," said Tuchel, who was without Reece James, N'Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell, Mateo Kovacic because of injury while Timo Werner and Jorginho started on the bench because they needed a rest.
“I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready. We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better — but even this break after the first (13) minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball.”
Tuchel said all his team did was “hang in there.”
“I see this totally as an exception from the rule," he said. “I will not insist too long on this match because it’s so unusual for us to play like this.”
Tuchel said he was concerned about an injury sustained by defender Trevoh Chalobah in the second half.
“The doctor was on the pitch 20 times today it felt like,” he said. “It’s a big loss, Trev. I’m a bit worried.”

Russia gas no quick fix for European spot market: Analysts

Russia gas no quick fix for European spot market: Analysts
Updated 02 December 2021

Russia gas no quick fix for European spot market: Analysts

Russia gas no quick fix for European spot market: Analysts

MOSCOW: The longer the prices for natural gas remain at record high levels in Europe this year, the stronger the markets feel that Russian gas should not be seen as a quick fix to the problem, at least not before this winter ends.
“Overall gas production in Russia over the three quarters of 2021 was 12 percent and 2.6 percent higher than a year ago and in 2019. But it was not adequate to raise the supply to the EU immediately,” analysts at Bloomberg NEF said in a note dated Oct. 12.
The fundamentals have changed now. Ronald Smith, executive director and senior oil and gas analyst at Moscow-based BCS Global Markets, explained to Arab News in an emailed message: “In 2021, domestic demand in Russia has gone up substantially on a year-on-year basis. This is at least partially due to the weather, as 2020 was perhaps the warmest year on record, and 2021 has been pretty close to the 10-year norm.”
“There was a strong request to refill domestic storage in Russia before the heating season starts on Nov.1,” Smith added.
Given the pandemic circumstances, Putin’s administration didn’t want to take any chances. As a result, Russia turned up among “bottom 5" gas exporters whose shipments abroad in the third quarter of 2021 fell the most in absolute terms from the same quarter of 2019, according to a presentation by US-based Cheniere Energy, Inc. at an EIA event on Nov. 16.
Gazprom is also facing capacity constraints. “The company is currently producing 1.5 billion cubic meters per day. That is effectively 100 percent of the capacity. They might be able to manage 1.55 bcm/d, but not for very long, and that needs to be reserved for when the weather actually gets cold, say, -20C in Moscow and -5C in Frankfurt,” Smith told Arab News.
Responding to Arab News question how big the size of the increase in Gazprom shipments to Europe could have been over the next 3 months, had Nord Stream 2 regulatory issues been resolved, the analyst said: “Not much at this point unless Gazprom is willing to take gas out of Russian storage, which is full at this time.”
There seems to be a consensus view among industry experts that high gas prices in Europe this year is a result of a confluence of multiple things such as abnormal weather, a drop in European production, competition with Asia over the limited supply of LNG and the “green push.”
Spot prices for natural gas in Europe rose 41 percent during November. On Nov. 30, the front-month Dutch TTF Gas Futures, a European price benchmark, with delivery during January 2022, closed down 1 percent from the previous day at €92.5 after it jumped by more than 5 percent in early morning trading, according to data on Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. website.

Saudi Arabia kick off 2021 FIFA Arab Cup campaign with 1-0 defeat by Jordan

Saudi Arabia kick off 2021 FIFA Arab Cup campaign with 1-0 defeat by Jordan
Updated 02 December 2021

Saudi Arabia kick off 2021 FIFA Arab Cup campaign with 1-0 defeat by Jordan

Saudi Arabia kick off 2021 FIFA Arab Cup campaign with 1-0 defeat by Jordan
  • Herve Renard’s young Falcons created few chances during a match in which both teams had a man sent off

Saudi Arabia’s Arab Cup campaign began with a 1-0 defeat by Jordan on Wednesday at the Education City Stadium in Qatar. Both teams ended the game with 10 men.

While the result was not a huge shock, given the youth and inexperience of a young Green Falcons side shorn of most of their big-name players and featuring no outfielder born before 1999, the performance was disappointing, with few chances created until the dying moments. The Saudis were second best for much of the match, even though Jordan were reduced to 10 men after 53 minutes when midfielder Ehsan Haddad was sent off.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Nashama took the lead 10 minutes later thanks to Mahmoud Al-Mardi. And just as Saudi Arabia were beginning to press for an equalizer, defender Khalifa Al-Dawsari received marching orders of his own with 17 minutes remaining. The three-time Asian champions did manage to produce a late flurry that included an injury-time equalizer that was disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Earlier in the day, Morocco moved into first place in Group C with a 4-0 victory over Palestine, so the defeat leaves the Saudis, who rarely troubled Jordan’s goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila, with much to do if they are to progress to the last eight of the 16-team tournament.

Jordan had much the better of the first half, with nine attempts on goal. After 15 minutes, Yazan Al-Arab headed a corner straight into the arms of Mohamed Al-Rubaie. Moments later, a fierce long-range effort by Haddad went just over the bar.

The Reds were happy to shoot from distance, and after 25 minutes a looping shot by Mahmoud Al-Mardi from outside the area went wide. Soon after, Yazan Al-Naimat danced past a couple of Saudi challenges, only to shoot weakly at the goalkeeper.

The young Falcons struggled to get any sort of rhythm going at all, with Laurent Bonadei, manager Herve Renard’s assistant who is in charge of the team during games, growing increasingly animated on the touchline.

Eight minutes before the break, Jordan had their best chance so far. Al-Mardi’s left-sided cross seemed perfect but while Baha Faisal rose high above the Saudi defense to meet it, his header went well wide.

A goal looked to be coming and it seemed to have arrived a minute later. Just moments after Al-Naimat shot wide from a good position at the corner of the area, the Saudis gave the ball away cheaply. The forward gratefully received the ball near the penalty spot and made no mistake in firing home. However the VAR ruled that he was a centimeter or two offside during the build-up.

Saudi Arabia were happy to end the half on level terms after giving the Jordanian goalkeeper little to do — and their own coach much to think about.

The second half began in a similar vein as Jordan again came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock. Faisal got on the end of a free kick but his header hit the underside of the crossbar, and although Adnan Hamad’s men argued that the ball had bounced behind the line, play continued.

In the 53rd minute, Saudi Arabia seemed to get the break they badly needed when Haddad, who could have no complaints, was shown a straight red for a rash tackle on Turki Al-Ammar.

Yet Jordan recovered quickly from the setback to take the lead just after the hour mark. Faisal crossed from the left and, though the initial cross was blocked by Al-Dawsari, the ball fell to Al-Mardi whose shot hit the prone defender and bounced into the back of the net.

It took time after that for Saudi Arabia to get into the game but just as it was starting to happen, Al-Dawsari was sent off, with 17 minutes remaining, leaving both teams a man short.

Yet the boys from Riyadh should have equalized in stoppage time. Abdullah Al-Qahtani’s initial shot was saved by Abulaila at the near post but the ball bounced out to Aidan Hamed, only for him to blast it over the bar from a perfect position.

There was still time for controversy, as the Saudis had a goal ruled out after captain Saud Abdulhamid was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper when they both jumped for the ball.

“I’m really proud of my players, who gave their all in the match, but when we were 11 versus 10, we wanted to attack and score first and we made a mistake,” said Bonadei. “We did well but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I think we can improve. We have to win the next game against Palestine.”

That match will take place on Saturday, with Jordan taking on Morocco the same day.