Palestine Liberation Organization to choose top negotiator after death of Erekat

Palestine Liberation Organization to choose top negotiator after death of Erekat
The most important post up for grabs is that of the late chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was PLO secretary-general and had been deeply involved for decades in the now moribund peace talks with Israel. (AFP/File)
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Updated 04 February 2022

Palestine Liberation Organization to choose top negotiator after death of Erekat

Palestine Liberation Organization to choose top negotiator after death of Erekat

RAMALLAH, West Bank: The Palestine Liberation Organization meets on Sunday to elect key leadership figures tasked with keeping up the struggle for statehood, at a gathering which may hint at a potential successor for President Mahmoud Abbas.

The most important post up for grabs is that of the late chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was PLO secretary-general and had been deeply involved for decades in the now moribund peace talks with Israel. He died in 2020 from coronavirus complications.

Once the undisputed champion of the Palestinian cause, the PLO has lost much of its relevance since the 1994 establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

PLO Chairman Abbas, who is also the PA president, is 86 years old and has seen support dive to historic lows in opinion polls, accused of autocracy in rare West Bank street protests last year.

Palestinians have not been to the ballot box for 16 years, and their aspirations for a two-state solution are strongly rejected by Israel’s right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Violence flares almost daily in the occupied West Bank, and the coastal enclave of Gaza is still recovering from another devastating war with Israel last year.

Against this backdrop, the PLO meeting in Ramallah will seek to fill key posts in the movement that was founded in 1964 and bills itself as the sole representative of all Palestinians.

Also open is the position of high-profile official Hanan Ashrawi, who resigned more than a year ago from the 18-member executive committee, the PLO’s top decision-making body.

Abbas confidante Hussein Al-Sheikh, the PA’s civil affairs minister, is widely tipped to take over Erekat’s seat and chief negotiator role.

He is also among those seen as Abbas’s possible successors.

Other contenders are Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and Marwan Barghouti, who is currently in an Israeli prison over his role in planning attacks and whom supporters describe as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela.

“Sheikh is a person that Israelis seem to hold in high regard. Certainly the Americans do,” said Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.

“Others feel that he’s the kind of guy that they can work with. So in the near term, it seems like it makes a lot of sense.”

A veteran of Abbas’s Fatah movement, Sheikh has cultivated ties with foreign diplomats and with Israel, and met with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid last month.

Bennett’s coalition government has ruled out formal peace talks with the Palestinians but has said it wants to deepen economic cooperation with the PA to improve livelihoods in the West Bank.

“It does look like Abu Mazen (Abbas) is sort of preparing the ground for a future succession process,” said Elgindy.

“I’m just not sure that the actual succession process is going to unfold according to his wishes.”


Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes
  • 2 soldiers were wounded in last Friday’s clashes between army units and terrorists

DUBAI: Tunisia’s minister of defense, Imed Memmiche, visited two soldiers who were wounded in last Friday’s clashes between army units and terrorists in Mount Salloum in Kasserine. 
 
Memmiche went to the Tunis military hospital on Monday to commend the men for their ‘patriotism and sense of duty’, according to the Ministry of Defense’s statement released on state news agency TAP.


UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222

UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222
Updated 16 August 2022

UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222

UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222
  • The non-profit organization has donated to 22,517 projects so far this year

Dar Al Ber Society has spent over $56 million during the first half of 2022 on charitable and sustainable development projects that have benefitted 2.9 million people worldwide and in the UAE, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday. 

The non-profit organization has donated to 22,517 projects so far this year, according to WAM. 

More than $13.6 million were donated to a total of 8,901 projects in the first quarter of this year, while $14,128,257 were directed to 13,616 projects in the second quarter, the CEO and Managing Director of Dar Al Ber SocietyMuhammad Suhail Al-Muhairi said. 

Some of these humanitarian projects have been completed while others are underway, he added. 

The Dar Al Ber Society helped build 2,144 mosques – 904 in the first quarter and 1,240 in the second quarter. 

A total of 8,121 water-saving projects were also built with the help of the donations, Al-Muhairi said.

The organization helped set up 4,929 projects for families, as well as launch 5,285 medical projects, according to WAM. 

Dar Al Ber also implemented its seasonal projects in 37 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, in cooperation with 32 of its partners in the respective countries.

Represented by the Department of Zakat in the Projects and Zakat Sector, Dar Al Ber Society donated more than $11.6 million in local aid to 346,541 beneficiaries.


Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis
  • The meeting represented “positive and constructive dialogue that reflects the strength of bilateral relations”

DUBAI: Tunisia’s foreign minister discussed ways to rectify the democratic process in the country during a meeting with the chargée d'affaires at the US Embassy in Tunis on Monday. 
Othman Jerandi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad, met with Natasha Franceschi, chargée d'affaires at the US Embassy, to step up consultations between the two countries, Tunisia’s state news agency TAP reported. 
The meeting represented “positive and constructive dialogue that reflects the strength of bilateral relations,” the Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement.
Upcoming bilateral events, such as the Joint Military Commission, were also discussed at the meeting, according to the same statement.
During the meeting, Jerandi welcomed the ties between the two countries, while Franceschi stressed the US’ keenness to develop partnerships with Tunisia in all sectors.
Franceschi also presented America’s initiative to host the US-Africa Leaders Summit scheduled for Dec. 13-15 in Washington.


Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three

Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three
Updated 16 August 2022

Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three

Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three
  • Similar police operations were also undertaken in Zarqa, northeast of Amman

DUBAI: Three people were arrested after Jordanian police on Monday raided a house in East Amman that was being used as a crystal meth laboratory.

The raid was carried out after agents of the anti-narcotics department received a tip off.

The officers did not find the suspect in his home, but discovered and subsequently seized chemicals used for manufacturing methamphetamine.

The man was arrested later during a follow-up operation, where he also said he had an accomplice who worked with him to produce and sell the narcotics.

In a similar effort in Jordan’s campaign to crack down on the illegal drug trade, police raided a chalet west of Al-Balqa and arrested a man found in possession of marijuana and as well as a firearm on suspicion after he tried to flee.

Similar police operations were also undertaken in Zarqa, northeast of Amman, where suspects have been arrested while in possession of illegal drugs and narcotics.


EU ‘studying’ Iran response on restarting nuclear deal

EU ‘studying’ Iran response on restarting nuclear deal
Updated 16 August 2022

EU ‘studying’ Iran response on restarting nuclear deal

EU ‘studying’ Iran response on restarting nuclear deal
  • No details offered on the substance of Iran’s response
  • But Tehran suggested it still would not take the EU-mediated proposal

BRUSSELS/DUBAI: The EU said Tuesday it was “studying” Iran’s reply to a proposed draft agreement aimed at reviving a 2015 accord designed to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

A spokesperson for EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell — who coordinated talks to bring Iran and the US back into the deal — said the Iranian response was received late Monday.

“We are studying it and are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the US on the way ahead,” the spokesperson said, referring to the formal title of the nuclear pact.

Iran earlier said it submitted a “written response” to what has been described as a final roadmap to restore its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency offered no details on the substance of it response, but suggested that Tehran still wouldn’t take the European Union-mediated proposal, despite warnings there would be no more negotiations.

“The differences are on three issues, in which the United States has expressed its verbal flexibility in two cases, but it should be included in the text,” the IRNA report said. “The third issue is related to guaranteeing the continuation of (the deal), which depends on the realism of the United States.”

Tehran under hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi has repeatedly tried to blame Washington for the delay in reaching an accord. Monday was reported to have been a deadline for their response.

From Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US would share its own response to the EU.

“We do agree, however, with (the EU’s) fundamental point, and that is that what could be negotiated has been negotiated,” Price said.

He added that Iran had been making “unacceptable demands” going beyond the text of the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

“If Iran wants these sanctions lifted, they will need to alter their underlying conduct,” Price said. “They will need to change the dangerous activities that gave rise to these sanctions in the first place.”