Palestinian engineers protest in challenge to Abbas’ authority in West Bank

Palestinian police prevent demonstrators from gathering ahead of a planned protest against the Palestinian authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP file photo)
Palestinian police prevent demonstrators from gathering ahead of a planned protest against the Palestinian authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 01 August 2022

Palestinian engineers protest in challenge to Abbas’ authority in West Bank

Palestinian engineers protest in challenge to Abbas’ authority in West Bank
  • Syndicate chair Nadia Habash told the sit-in: “We demand that the prime minister come down from his ivory tower to address the masses of engineers demanding their rights”

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Engineers Syndicate has announced the escalation of its protest action, with hundreds of people demonstrating on Monday in front of the Palestinian prime minister's headquarters in Ramallah as ministers met for their weekly Cabinet session.

Protesters are demanding the financial rights of public engineers and seeking a government commitment to implement a financial agreement signed between the two parties last year, syndicate sources told Arab News.

It has demanded the implementation of the Cabinet’s decision, which includes disbursing a bonus to engineers working in the public sector at a rate of 120 percent, similar to employees in the same segment.

It also wants rewards for military engineers and housing allowances for fourth-grade teacher engineers.

Syndicate chair Nadia Habash told the sit-in: “We demand that the prime minister come down from his ivory tower to address the masses of engineers demanding their rights.”

She urged the prime minister to look at “us and address the engineers, talk to them, listen, and respond to their demands.”

She stressed the pursuit of justice and fairness for the engineers and the implementation of the agreement signed with the government in 2014, saying the government was persistent in ignoring their pleas and denying them their rights.

She said the government had filed a court case against the engineers to stop their strikes and repudiate the agreement.

The syndicate embarked on a strike of general engineers throughout last week to pressure the government to respond to its demands.

On July 30, it announced the escalation of its protest action for this week.

As part of a series of strikes and work pauses, which engineers carried out on Sunday, they also stayed away from the workplace and remained at the union’s headquarters.

Permanent engineers were also urged to leave their offices and follow the strike.

The syndicate began escalating its campaign in June, announcing an eight-day strike this month for engineers in the public sector.

Osama Taha, head of the syndicate in Ramallah, told Arab News: “We waited for the government to approve its budget for 2022 and the president's endorsement, but we have a government that does not abide by or implements the agreements that it signs.”

The protest covers 30,000 engineers in the West Bank, 18,000 active members of the syndicate, and 2,000 employees in the public sector from ministries affiliated with the Palestinian Authority.

The escalation of the action coincides with the ongoing month-long protest by 10,500 Palestinian lawyers.

A senior leader in the Fatah Central Committee expressed concern about the widening circle of union protests, which could weaken the status of the Palestinian Authority and paralyze life in the West Bank, especially if other unions such as doctors, pharmacists, and teachers announced a strike and similar protest steps.

“This series of union protests and strikes to demand rights indicates a defect in the relationship between the government and civil society institutions and negatively affects and weakens the image of the Palestinian government,” Ahmed Rafiq Awad, head of the Al-Quds Center for Future Studies at Al-Quds University, told Arab News,

“The frequent and continuation of strikes for a long period leads to job insecurity that weakens the authority's prestige and may lead to paralysis in public life.

“If the government claimed that it does not have financial capabilities, we would have cooperated with it to consider what was agreed upon as a debt to its engineers, which it can fulfill and abide by whenever its financial conditions improve, but it did not respect the agreements with the union and ignored them.”

But he expressed his hope that there would eventually be an agreement between the two sides.

Amid concern about the protests, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyieh said at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet session on Monday in Ramallah that the Israeli government's decision to deduct $177 million from Palestinian tax funds was unjust, illegal, and piracy.

“It adds to our financial crisis in another dimension, but it will not deter us from our commitment toward the families of prisoners and martyrs,” he added.

Israel has deducted the value of the salaries that the authority pays to the families of prisoners and martyrs since the end of last December.

Israel’s move has negatively affected the financial conditions of the authority, as it is now paying 80 percent of the salary value of its 170,000 public employees.

 


Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis

Kuwaiti charity offers psychological aid to victims of war, crisis
Updated 56 min 10 sec ago

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.

 


Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate
Updated 05 December 2022

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate

Israeli President arrives in UAE for Abu Dhabi Space Debate
  • Israeli president among 300 high-ranking personalities attending the event

DUBAI: Israeli president Isaac Herzog has arrived in the UAE Monday to attend the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, state news agency (WAM) reported.

Herzog was welcomed by the UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi.

The Israeli president will be among 300 high-ranking personalities and decision makers attending the first edition of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, which opened on Monday.

The two-day event will discuss the space industry’s most pressing challenges and factors to drive the new space economy.