Abbas to Israel: End occupation in 1 year or Palestinians withdraw recognition

Abbas to Israel: End occupation in 1 year or Palestinians withdraw recognition
In this May 19, 2020 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a leadership meeting at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)
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Updated 25 September 2021

Abbas to Israel: End occupation in 1 year or Palestinians withdraw recognition

Abbas to Israel: End occupation in 1 year or Palestinians withdraw recognition
  • Palestinian leader chastises UN, international community for not holding Israel accountable for its actions
  • Abbas accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, failing to honor agreements

WASHINGTON: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave the Israeli government one year to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Jerusalem or face the prospect of Palestinians withdrawing their recognition of Israel.

He added that Palestinians will otherwise seek a legal judgment from the International Court of Justice against its occupation of Palestinian territories. 

Abbas said that Palestinians stand ready to finalize the borders between the prospective Palestinian state and Israel and finish negotiations over other lingering final status issues such as the return of refugees and the status of occupied Jerusalem.

Abbas, who delivered a prerecorded statement from Ramallah to the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, said that Palestinians have had enough of Israel’s 54-year occupation of Palestinian lands.

He said that notwithstanding decades of peace negotiations with Israel, Palestinians still had no Israeli peace partner interested in ending the conflict.

Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem — where Palestinians hope to establish their state — in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war after defeating the armies of Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

He said Palestinians have honored all their agreements with Israel and have committed to a peaceful end to the conflict, especially after the signing of Oslo Accords in 1993.

Abbas stated that Israel not only failed to honor its agreements with Palestinians but also worked to undermine the prospect of a two-state solution by building illegal settlements to increase the Israeli-Jewish population in the occupied territories in violation of international laws.

The Oslo Accords stipulated the withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from the West Bank and Gaza within several years of the agreement.

It also committed Israel to negotiate the final status of occupied East Jerusalem, the establishment of a Palestinian state and the right of return of Palestinian refugees no later than one year after the final status negotiations that started in 1999.

Abbas said Israel has since rejected and refused to implement all of the peace proposals and agreements it signed with the Palestinians, including the Oslo Accords.

“Contrary to past agreements and to principles of international law, Israel is forcing the Palestinians out of their homes in Jerusalem, especially the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,” he said.

“Israel is committing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and this is considered a crime according to international law.”

The Palestinian leader chastised the UN and members of the international community for not holding Israel accountable for its actions, which has led the country to believe itself above the law.

He also criticized the US and several European countries, without naming them, for recognizing the Israeli occupation and its system of “apartheid.”

Abbas praised the administration of President Joe Biden, describing his ties with the US government as a “constructive dialogue.”

On the domestic front, Abbas said that he did not cancel the Palestinian legislative elections that were supposed to take place last May but rather “postponed them,” explaining that he initially decided against holding the slated elections because Palestinians in Jerusalem would not have been able to vote due to Israeli objections.

In an apparent criticism of his main Palestinian rival Hamas, Abbas reminded the international community that the Palestine Liberation Organization, which he is a chairman of, is the only representative of the Palestinian people.

Abbas, who is also the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, which administers Palestinian cities in the West Bank, has been the subject of severe criticism and protests by Palestinian citizens.

In recent months, Palestinian protesters demanded his resignation over claims of corruption, human rights violations and security collaboration with Israel.


Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise
Updated 6 sec ago

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise

Egyptian, Russian navies launch joint exercise
  • Friendship Bridge 4 is part of Egypt’s plan to carry out joint military training with friendly countries

CAIRO: The Egyptian and Russian navies have launched the joint exercise Friendship Bridge 4, which will last for several days in the Mediterranean.

It began with a ceremony welcoming Russian forces at the Alexandria Naval Base in the presence of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Khaled Hassan Saeed, who delivered a speech in which he stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries’ navies.

Friendship Bridge 4 is part of Egypt’s plan to carry out joint military training with friendly countries.

 Meanwhile, the armed forces of Egypt and Jordan concluded their joint exercise Aqaba-6. The training, which took place in Jordan, included a joint operation to eliminate an armed terrorist outpost inside a border village, and the interception of a merchant ship.


Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
Updated 07 December 2021

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
  • A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Tarek Bitar from questioning top officials

BEIRUT: The probe into last year’s deadly Beirut port blast has been cleared to resume after being suspended for more than a month on legal claims against its lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar, a judicial source said.
A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Bitar from questioning top officials on Tuesday.
“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
The resumption could be temporary should further legal complaints be filed, he said.
The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city has made little headway amid pushback from powerful factions, some of whom lead smear campaigns and filed multiple suits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Muslim political movement Hezbollah has repeatedly said he wanted Bitar removed from the case and the row over him has spilled over into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.
Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.
He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.


Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4
Updated 07 December 2021

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

BASRA: At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in an explosion in Iraq's southern city of Basra, police and hospital sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the city centre, near a main hospital. The explosion set fire to at least one vehicle and damaged a minibus.
One police source said that an initial investigation showed that a motorcycle rigged with explosives could have been the cause of the blast. 


UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Fridays will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon, with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options during those days. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.