Economy, security meetings will not settle Palestine-Israel conflict: Analysts

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) visited Israel on Tuesday for a meeting with Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L). (AP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) visited Israel on Tuesday for a meeting with Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L). (AP)
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Updated 30 December 2021

Economy, security meetings will not settle Palestine-Israel conflict: Analysts

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) visited Israel on Tuesday for a meeting with Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L). (AP)
  • Gantz approved a raft of measures aimed at improving relations with the Palestine on Wednesday

GAZA CITY: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a rare visit to Israel on Tuesday for a meeting with Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Gantz approved a raft of measures aimed at improving relations with the Palestine on Wednesday.

It was the second meeting between the two following their talks at the headquarters of the Palestinian presidency in Ramallah in August. That meeting focused on what the Israeli media described as “routine security issues.”

Some Palestinian factions denounced Tuesday’s talks, labeling them a “reinforcement of internal divisions.”

But the Abbas-led Fatah movement said that it was “a serious attempt to put an end to the escalatory practices against the Palestinian people, and to open a political path based on international legitimacy.”

Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh, who accompanied Abbas, said that the meeting focused on the importance of “finding a political horizon that leads to a political solution under international legitimacy resolutions.”

Al-Sheikh tweeted that the two sides also discussed “the tense field conditions, due to the settler practices and attacks, as well as many security, economic and humanitarian issues.”

A statement issued by Gantz’s office said that the two-hour meeting discussed “maintaining security and stability, and preventing terrorism and violence,” besides civil and economic issues.

Gantz told Abbas that he will work to strengthen security coordination.

After the meeting, the Israeli Kan TV channel quoted a senior Palestinian official as saying: “The gap is very large and there is currently no opportunity for a political breakthrough.

“First of all, there must be a political horizon, without which everything we do can explode in a minute.”

The meeting came after years of political deadlock under former US president Donald Trump, who reportedly had a bad relationship with President Abbas.

The Palestinian leadership views President Joe Biden differently and has demanded that he fulfill promises made during his election campaign, including opening a political path to achieve a two-state solution, pressuring Israel to halt settlements and reopening the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, which Trump closed in 2018.

Washington has resumed financial and economic support for the Palestinian Authority, and, after a joint economic meeting on Dec. 14, announced a new package of projects.

The Abbas-Gantz meeting was preceded by a meeting between the Palestinian president and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and an accompanying delegation, and another with Yael Lempert, US acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs.

Although Palestinian officials said that the meetings were aimed at creating paths to a political solution, some observers warned that they were only held to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Last November, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that Israel had asked the Biden administration to pressure Arab and European countries to increase financial aid to the crisis-hit Palestinian Authority, in order to prevent the deterioration of security in the West Bank.

Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, stressed that the Palestinian leadership believes in finding a political solution based on “the two-state option and international legitimacy,” and that “the economic track cannot be a substitute for the political track.”

He added: “Trump tried to promote an economic solution, pump billions to end the Palestinian political cause, and held a conference in Bahrain for this goal, but he failed.

“Without a just political solution, all movements, including Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s attempts to manage the conflict, not resolve it, are a waste of time and will fail, and will not achieve stability in the region.”

Bilal Al-Shobaki, a professor of political science at Hebron University in the West Bank, said that the Abbas-Gantz meeting was based on the “economic and security track, without any political solutions.”

He said Washington and Tel Aviv are “keen to save the Palestinian Authority and support it financially and economically to prevent its collapse, but without any political solutions that could lead to a Palestinian state.”


Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW

Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW
Updated 7 sec ago

Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW

Iran arrests prominent activists on ‘baseless accusations’: HRW
  • This is ‘another desperate attempt to silence support for growing popular social movements’
  • Country rocked by ongoing labor strikes, protests over rising pric

LONDON: Iran has arrested several prominent activists on what Human Rights Watch described on Friday as “baseless accusations” amid ongoing labor strikes and protests over rising prices.

Citing news outlets close to Iran’s intelligence apparatus, HRW said the arrested are accused of “contact with suspicious foreign actors,” although no evidence was provided to back the claim bar the assertion by authorities that they had arrested two Europeans earlier this month.

“The arrests of prominent members of civil society in Iran on baseless accusations of malicious foreign interference is another desperate attempt to silence support for growing popular social movements in the country,” said Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at HRW.

“Instead of looking to civil society for help in understanding and responding to social problems, Iran’s government treats them as an inherent threat.”

Since May 6, people have gathered in at least 19 cities and towns to protest the news that Iran will experience price-rises for essential goods in the coming months, with MPs saying at least two people have been killed in the protests so far.

In the last week of April, dozens of teachers’ union activists were arrested after calling for nationwide protests to demand reforms of the pay scale system.

HRW said over the past four years there has been a spike in widespread protests in Iran, organized by major unions, over economic inequalities stemming from declining living standards.

It added that security forces have responded to protests with excessive, lethal force, and have arrested thousands, using prosecution and imprisonment based on illegitimate charges as the main tool to silence prominent dissidents and human rights defenders.

Since these latest protests kicked off at the start of May, authorities have heavily disrupted internet access in multiple provinces.

“Iranian authorities have long sought to criminalize solidarity among members of civil society groups inside and outside the country,” said Sepehri Far.

“The intention is to prevent accountability and scrutiny of state actions that civil society provides.”


Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 

Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 
Updated 20 May 2022

Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 

Yemen’s defense minister discusses bilateral cooperation with US, UK military attachés 
  • Al-Maqashi highly praised the US administration's efforts to establish peace in Yemen and its support for the government

DUBAI: Yemen’s minister of Defense, Mohammed al-Maqdashi, met with Colonel Mark Rittman, American Military and Security Attaché in the country’s US embassy on Thursday. 

The two discussed ways they can fight terrorism, in addition to military and security cooperation between the two nations. 

Al-Maqashi highly praised the US administration's efforts to establish peace in Yemen and its support for the government. 

Separately, Al-Maqashi met with the British Military Attaché in the UN embassy in Yemen to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense.


Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’

Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’
Updated 20 May 2022

Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’

Russian, Emirati officials look to enhance ‘strong ties’
  • The two sides discussed ways “to better serve the interests of their people”

DUBAI: UAE and Russian officials met on Thursday to discuss ways to enhance “strong ties” between the two countries, state news agency WAM reported. 

Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdullah Mohamed Al-Mazrouei, held meetings with Chairman of the Russian-Emirati inter-parliamentary Group, Аrsen Bashirovich Kanokov, in Abu Dhabi. 

During the meeting, which was also attended by Mohamed Helal Al Mheiri, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Chamber, the two sides discussed ways “to better serve the interests of their people,” according to WAM.

Al-Mazrouei highlighted that both the UAE and Russia possess the necessary capabilities to strengthen relations in areas such as trade, artificial intelligence and innovation. 

Kanokov expressed Russia’s keenness to enhance relations with the UAE in addition to strengthening ties between the business community in Abu Dhabi and Russia. He added that the goal is to build on what has been accomplished between the two sides over the years.

Kanokov also extended his condolences on the passing of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, and congratulated Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for being elected as UAE President.


Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea

Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea
Updated 20 May 2022

Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea

Houthi pirates accused of attempting to hijack racing yacht in Red Sea
  • The attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, were repelled by the yacht's security force
  • Lakota, owned by French yachtsman arget is one of sailing world’s most famous boats

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen were accused on Thursday of trying to hijack one of the world’s most famous racing yachts in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah.
Attackers in three fast-moving skiffs and armed with rocket-propelled grenades tried to board the Lakota, a 19-meter sailing trimaran owned by the French yachtsman Philippe Poupon.
The trimaran’s crew repelled the attacks and continued sailing up the Red Sea toward the Suez Canal. The yacht carries a racing crew of five but it is not known if Poupon himself, who has recently been on an Antarctic expedition with his family, was on board.
Yemeni fishermen in nearby waters saw crew on the vessel exchange fire with the attackers. “Several attempts were made to board her,” the maritime intelligence company Dryad Global said. “Reports indicate she managed to get away.”
Satellite-tracking data on Thursday showed the Lakota just west of the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea between Yemen and Eritrea on the Horn of Africa coast.
The racing trimaran, previously called the Pierre 1er, is one of the most famous vessels in the sailing world. Built in 1990, it was once owned by the American tycoon and adventurer Steve Fossett.
Poupon bought the yacht this year for an estimated €250,000 euros ($263,000).
It was on its way from the Philippines to France, from where the yachtsman plans to sail it in the solo Route du Rhum transatlantic race in November, and had docked in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa last Sunday.
Yemeni government officials said they had no doubt that the Houthi militia had carried out the attempted hijack.
“Our information says three armed Houthi boats sailed from Al-Saleef in Hodeidah on Tuesday and were stationed in the sea. They attacked the boat,” one official told Arab News.
The attack on the Lakota came days after the Houthis hijacked another vessel in the Red Sea delivering food to government troops in the city of Medi, in northern Hajjah province.
The vessel, which had three fishermen and two soldiers on board, was sailing from government-controlled Khokha, south of Hodeidah, to the 5th Military Region in Medi on Sunday when it was attacked by armed Houthi boats.
“The crew sent an alert that the Houthis were surrounding them and would arrest them, two hours after leaving Khokha,” a local officer told Arab News.
In January, the Houthis hijacked the UAE-flagged vessel Rwabee with a crew of 11 off the country’s west coast, triggering local and international condemnation.
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said the ship was carrying medical equipment from a temporary Saudi hospital on the Yemeni island of Socotra.


Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup

Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup
Updated 19 May 2022

Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup

Sudan arrests Communist Party figures as thousands protest coup
  • Thousands of protesters took to the streets, mainly in Khartoum but also elsewhere, to again call for civilian rule in the latest rally against the October coup

KHARTOUM: Sudanese security forces arrested leading anti-coup figures on Thursday, their party said, during protests by thousands against last year’s military takeover.

“Security forces raided the house of the political secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party Mohammed Mukhtar Al-Khatib,” the party said in a statement.

Another leading party member was also arrested at Khartoum airport, and the two men were taken to an “unknown location,” the party said.

The arrests came despite a pledge by coup leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan to free political detainees to set the stage for talks among Sudanese factions.

Last month, authorities released several anti-coup civilian leaders arrested in a crackdown.

The Communist Party members were detained following a trip to Juba, South Sudan where they met with rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nour who has refused to sign a landmark 2020 peace deal with the Sudanese government, according to the party statement.

They also visited rebel-held areas in South Kordofan controlled by Abdelaziz Al-Hilu, who also abstained from the 2020 deal, it said.

Thousands of protesters on Thursday took to the streets, mainly in Khartoum but also elsewhere, to again call for civilian rule in the latest rally against the October coup led by Gen. Burhan, according to AFP correspondents.

The pro-democracy Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said security forces fired tear gas “in large quantities” to quell the protests.

Regular mass demonstrations have rocked Sudan since the coup which derailed a fragile political transition set in motion after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar Bashir.

Demonstrations have been met by a violent crackdown which has so far killed at least 95 protesters and wounded hundreds of others, according to medics.

The UN, along with the African Union and regional bloc IGAD, have been pushing to facilitate Sudanese-led talks to resolve the crisis after the northeast African country’s latest coup.

UN special representative Volker Perthes in late March said the country was heading towards “an economic and security collapse” unless its civilian-led transition was restored.

The military leader threatened to expel Perthes for alleged “interference” in the country’s affairs.