Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward

Update Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward
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US President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One to depart Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP)
Update Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward
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(L to R) US President Joe Biden and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas deliver statements to the media after their meeting at the Muqataa Presidential Compound in Bethlehem. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP)
Update Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward
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US President Joe Biden called the east Jerusalem hospitals ‘the backbone of the Palestinian health care system.’ (AFP)
Update Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward
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A photo of slain US-Palestinian Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, with a caption in Arabic reading “Shireen Abu Akleh, the voice of Palestine.” (MANDEL NGAN/AFP)
Update Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward
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Israel's President Isaac Herzog (2nd-R) and caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid (C) bid farewell to US President Joe Biden (2nd-L). (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
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Updated 16 July 2022

Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward

Biden restates backing for two-state solution but offers no way forward
  • US president meets Abbas in Bethlehem, admits that Palestinians are suffering
  • He pledges new $100m assistance package and $200m for UN refugee aid agency

RAMALLAH: US President Joe Biden vowed on Friday not to give up efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but offered no new proposals to restart stalled political dialogue.

After a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, Biden admitted that the creation of an independent Palestinian state was a distant prospect with no likelihood of new talks with Israel.

“Even if the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations, the US and my administration will not give up on trying to bring ... both sides closer together,” the president said.

“There must be two states for two peoples living side by side in safety and peace. Every people must live in dignity, but the goal of the two-state solution is out of reach because there are restrictions on movement and other restrictions imposed on the Palestinians.”

 

 

Biden acknowledged that after years of failed attempts to resolve the conflict, Palestinians living under onerous restrictions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza were suffering. "You can feel ... the grief and frustration," he said.“The Palestinian people feel sad, and we feel what they feel, but we will not give up on continuing our efforts for peace.

“The urgent needs of the Palestinians now are the best way to improve the situation. We are life partners to improve the lives of the Palestinians.”

Abbas urged Biden to reopen the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, and to remove the PLO from its terrorist list and reinstate its office in Washington. “The key to peace and security in our region begins with recognizing the state of Palestine and enabling the Palestinian people to obtain their legitimate rights under legitimate international resolutions,” he said.

“The permanent status issues must be resolved, including the refugee issue, and the way forward begins with the end of the Israeli occupation of the land of the state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 borders. If Israel wants to be a normal state, it cannot continue to act as a state above the law, and this calls for Israel to end its occupation.”

Abbas also asked for US support to bring to justice the killers of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American citizen shot dead by Israeli soldiers during a raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. Biden said the US would continue to seek accountability for her death.

Before departing for Saudi Arabia, Biden visited a hospital in East Jerusalem and pledged a multiyear $100 million package of financial and technical help. There are also plans to upgrade telecoms networks in the West Bank and Gaza to 4G standards by the end of 2023, and other measures to ease travel between the West Bank and Jordan.

There will be a separate $200 million funding package provided through the UN relief agency UNRWA to help Palestinian refugees.

The atmosphere that greeted Biden in the occupied West Bank was very different from the warm reception he received in Israel, where he was greeted as an old friend and awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor.

As he was driven to the presidential palace in Bethlehem, signs saying “Mr President, this is apartheid” were displayed along the route. In Bethlehem, a large banner reading “Justice for Shireen” was spread out, and a seat symbolically left empty for the murdered journalist by former colleagues covering the meeting with Abbas.




(AFP)

Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti told Arab News that the Biden-Abbas meeting had brought nothing for the Palestinian people, but showed the US bias toward Israel. “Why does Biden dedicate three days of his visit to Israel and give only one hour to the Palestinians?” he said.

“Biden confirmed that he supports the two-state solution in the long-term, not the immediate perspective. When he does not pressure Israel to stop settlements? This perpetuates the Israeli apartheid regime in the Palestinian territories.

“After this disappointing meeting, we as Palestinians must unite our forces because there is no hope waiting for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations sponsored by the US.”

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Lebanon set for $1.5 billion cash boost from influx of 700,000 visitors

Lebanon set for $1.5 billion cash boost from influx of 700,000 visitors
Updated 15 sec ago

Lebanon set for $1.5 billion cash boost from influx of 700,000 visitors

Lebanon set for $1.5 billion cash boost from influx of 700,000 visitors
  • Despite session boycott, Lebanese Cabinet approves $35m spending on medicines, assistance for military, pensioners

BEIRUT: Lebanon was on Monday preparing for a much-needed $1.5 billion cash injection with tourist chiefs predicting an influx of around 700,000 visitors over the coming days.

With the festive holiday season fast-approaching, hoteliers were reporting an upsurge in bookings on last year as the country temporarily began to put its economic and political woes to one side.

Decorative lights and trees, traditional markets, music festivals, and other popular events and activities were set to lift the nation’s gloom as Lebanese, expats, and foreign trippers were expected to flood into Beirut and coastal resorts.

And there was even some cheer on Monday from Lebanon’s caretaker Cabinet after it accepted a request for the central bank to release $35 million to buy medicines for dialysis and cancer patients, milk for children, plus financial assistance for the military and pensioners.

However, the Cabinet session was not held without acrimony as ministers of the Free Patriotic Movement boycotted the meeting over the continued political deadlock in Lebanon.

Addressing the session, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said: “We can no longer spend money to help cancer and dialysis patients. Do they (the FPM) want us to commit a collective crime?

“If that is what they are asking, then we won’t assume our responsibility and let everyone assume the consequences of their actions.

“If they want the country to collapse completely, I will not contribute to the crime of killing patients.”

Although the upcoming holiday season would provide a welcome cash boost, most experts said the revenues would act only as painkillers for the country’s ailing economy unless followed by a political breakthrough.

But in downtown Beirut decorative streetlights raised spirits among

the thousands of visitors flocking to markets selling food, drink, toys, books, and flowers.

One shopper said: “Beirut doesn’t fall, and these activities encourage the re-opening of the markets. People need to feel alive again.”

In Achrafieh, Sassine Square was being trimmed up in readiness for the holidays with traders planning to erect a Christmas tree alongside stalls selling festive products.

Preparations were also in full swing for the Beirut Chants music festival. The free event will run over 26 days in churches and souks around the capital and artistic director, Toufic Maatouk, said the festival, now in its 15th year, had received support from foreign ambassies and the participation of Lebanese bands.

Beirut Gov. Marwan Abboud said a host of activities had been lined up for visitors to the city.

Officials at Rafic Hariri International Airport noted that many Lebanese expats, especially from the Gulf region, were returning to spend the festive period with their families.

The airport, that has been acting as a transit point for football fans heading to Qatar for the World Cup, had also seen some supporters opting to stay in Lebanon on their way back from the tournament.

Jean Abboud, president of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents, said flights were fully booked from Dec. 10 to 25 with the number of Arab tourists on the rise, particularly from Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq. Abboud added that bookings had increased by 38 percent compared to the same period last year.

The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism has predicted that around 700,000 tourists will arrive in the country over the coming days.

Pierre Achkar, chairman of the Lebanese Federation for Tourism and president of the Hotel Owners Association, expected hotel bookings to reach 60 percent.

Many luxury hotels are still undergoing restoration following the Beirut port blast, but the iconic Phoenicia hotel recently celebrated its reopening.

And on Beirut waterfront, close to the explosion site, the Arab Cultural Club and Syndicate of Publishers Union in Lebanon has inaugurated the 64th edition of the Beirut International and Arab Book Fair with more than 133 publishers taking part.

Salwa Siniora, head of the Arab Cultural Club, said: “Enlightened intellectuals have a prominent role to play in shaping the destiny of the nation, and that knowledge and intellect are the flame that will remove the abhorrent blackness impeding visibility and the creative imagination.”

But signs of the ongoing crises in the country remain prominent with another protester staging a sit-in at a Lebanese bank, this time in Antelias, demanding the release of savings.

 


Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis
Updated 05 December 2022

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis
  • Team of 30 psychologists, specialists will provide support to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey

KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti charity is offering psychological aid and emotional support for victims of wars and crises in the Middle East.

The International Islamic Charity Organization charity has established a team of 30 psychologists and specialists who will provide support in three refugee-hosting countries: Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, Kuwait News Agency reported on Monday.

Othman Al-Asfour, head of the lICO Tarahum team, said that the initiative affirms an integral part of social and psychological support in humanitarian aid.

Psychologist Dr. Shereefa Al-Khamees stressed that refugees were in urgent need of psychological aid as much as handouts and donations.

The psychological health of the affected is very delicate and requires thorough treatment and support, Al-Khamees added.

 


Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation

Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation
Updated 05 December 2022

Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation

Jordan, Algeria launch new phase of cooperation
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah, Algerian president witness signing of two agreements and three MoUs
  • Governments instructed to take steps to boost investment, commercial opportunities in both countries

ALGIERS: Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune have launched a new phase of bilateral relations.

The leaders held talks on Sunday in Algiers to discuss boosting Jordanian-Algerian cooperation in politics, economics, trade, investment, and defense, Jordan News Agency reported.

The meeting, which was attended by senior officials from both sides, also affirmed interest in maintaining coordination and consultation on Arab causes and other issues of mutual concern. 

King Abdullah reiterated the centrality of the Palestinian cause and the need to protect Palestinians’ legitimate rights. 

He called for a just and comprehensive peace plan based on the two-state solution which establishes an independent and sovereign Palestinian state along the June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

He also reaffirmed the significance of maintaining the historical and legal status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque.

Following the meeting, the leaders witnessed the signing of an agreement on visa exemptions for diplomatic passport-holders, as well as a cooperation program between Jordan News Agency and the Algerian Press Service. 

Three memorandums of understanding on political consultations, cooperation between the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy and the Algeria Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations, and the mutual recognition of maritime qualification certificates for seafarers, education programs, and maritime training between the two countries were also signed.

King Abdullah and President Tebboune further instructed their governments to take the necessary steps to encourage investors and businesses to explore investment and commercial opportunities in both countries. 

They were also directed to move forward with agreements that would expand collaborations in health care, energy, medical tourism, hotels, transportation, aviation training, higher education, and cultural exchange between universities. 

Economists have praised the outcomes of King Abdullah’s state visit to Algeria.

Jordanian Senator Mazen Darwazah said that Jordanian investment in Algeria has gradually increased over the last two decades, with the drug industry spending nearly $1 billion.

Jordanian-Algerian Business Council Coordinator Khaled Al-Soub said that Algerian law allows Jordanian investors to expand their projects and acquire shares from foreign partners. 

Energy expert Hashem Akel said that Algeria was rich in petrol and natural resources and hoped that energy imports from the country would increase after Jordan receives preferential prices.

 


Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit

Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit
Updated 05 December 2022

Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit

Italy pledges ‘full cooperation’ with Jordan during king’s visit
  • ‘Many common points were found during the talks,’ source in PM’s office tells Arab News
  • Trade, cultural and defense cooperation were the core issues discussed

ROME: Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pledged their country’s “full cooperation” with Jordan “in every field,” during a meeting with King Abdullah II.

The monarch and Queen Rania were received by Mattarella at Quirinale Palace during their visit to Rome.

A source in the Italian presidency told Arab News that Mattarella stressed to the king “the importance for his country of the longstanding friendship between Italy and Jordan.” 

Italy is one of Jordan’s main commercial partners. In the first five months of 2021, bilateral trade grew by 26.7 percent compared to the same period the previous year. During the same period, Jordanian exports to Italy grew by 82.7 percent.

During an official lunch at Chigi Palace, Meloni told the king: “We always can do more together in so many fields.”

A source in the prime minister’s office said trade, cultural and defense cooperation were the core issues discussed.

“The situation in Syria was also covered. Many common points were found during the talks,” the source told Arab News.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and Defense Minister Guido Crosetto also attended the lunch.


UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum
Updated 05 December 2022

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum

UNRWA, Arab League urge protection of Palestinian education curriculum
  • Israeli censorship a concern, says ALECSO representative

CAIRO: The Palestinian education system should be protected from attempts to censor material being taught at schools.

This was the concern raised by some officials at the 32nd joint meeting of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the Council of Educational Affairs of the Arab League in Cairo, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The gathering took place at the Arab League’s headquarters in Egypt’s capital.

Dr. Tamer Anis, a representative of the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization, drew attention to Israel’s attempts to censor the Palestinian curriculum. He urged support for the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

Arab News had reported this year about attempts by Israel to impose a “sanitized” curriculum on East Jerusalem’s schools that includes the deletion of all photos of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the word Palestine and the Palestinian flag. Holy Qur’anic verses were also deleted on claims that they help strengthen Palestinian, Arab and Islamic identities.

At Sunday’s meeting in Cairo, Saeed Abu Ali, the Arab League’s assistant secretary-general for Palestine and the occupied Arab territories, said the gathering comes in the wake of the UNRWA’s ongoing financial crisis, which has had a direct impact on the services provided to Palestinian refugees.

Abu Ali stressed the need for the next UNRWA budget to reflect the growing needs of Palestinian refugees. He added that the Arab League would continue to keep communication channels open between the two organizations

Rawda Al-Hajj, the representative of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that ISESCO continues to support several education projects in Palestine.

The UNRWA’s Deputy Director of Education Moritz Bilagher reiterated that the Palestinian refugee crisis was not solely the responsibility of Arab countries, but rather a global issue for which the international community must take responsibility.