Egypt condemns ‘international silence on violations of the law’ by Israel

Special Egypt condemns ‘international silence on violations of the law’ by Israel
Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry arrives at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (AP Photo)
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Updated 09 November 2023
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Egypt condemns ‘international silence on violations of the law’ by Israel

Egypt condemns ‘international silence on violations of the law’ by Israel
  • Foreign Minister Shoukry says he rejects any attempt to displace Palestinians from Gaza
  • Sameh Shoukry: What the Israeli government is doing far exceeds the right to self-defense

CAIRO: Egypt has condemned “international silence on violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel” at a Paris conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza, under bombardment by Israel since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

“What the Israeli government is doing far exceeds the right to self-defense,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the conference hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, complaining of an “imbalance” in “the international conscience.”

Shoukry stressed that Israel had only allowed limited quantities of humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing and urged “the entire international community, and donor countries in particular, to continue supporting the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

“The aid that has already entered Gaza is not enough to meet the needs of the entire population, and the voluntary and deliberate complications imposed by Israel on the delivery of aid only lead to a further deterioration of the situation,” he said.

Shoukry said he rejected any attempt to displace Palestinians from Gaza.

He said that Egypt called for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire and condemned all practices that aimed to impose a new fait accompli to force the Palestinians to be displaced, forcibly transferred, or deported from their lands.

He stressed Egypt’s categorical rejection of the double-standard policies pursued by some countries regarding the war.

Egypt has already warned of the consequences of the conflict reaching a dangerous turn.

In a phone call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Shoukry discussed coordination and consultation on the situation in Gaza.

Shoukry and Guterres discussed in detail the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire to preserve the lives of Palestinian civilians and to provide the opportunity for the entry of humanitarian and relief aid in a complete, safe, and sustainable manner.

Shoukry highlighted the Egyptian political movements and contacts with international parties to push toward achieving a cease-fire.

He stressed the necessity of building on the international consensus embodied in the recent UN General Assembly resolution calling for implementing an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza, ensuring the protection of civilians.

Shoukry lauded the balanced positions adopted by the secretary-general on the path to containing the crisis’s repercussions and ending it.

Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Guterres stressed the need to end the tragic situation in Gaza and for the adoption of a cease-fire.

Guterres praised Egypt’s role in the crisis and its provision and delivery of aid to the people of the Gaza Strip.


How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage

How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage
Updated 4 sec ago
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How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage

How Gaza conflict thrust Palestine statehood quest back to center stage
  • Pre-war poll found just 41 percent of Arab Israelis and 32 percent of Jewish Israelis think peaceful coexistence is possible
  • However, analysts believe the ongoing conflict in Gaza could bolster support and action for the two-state solution

LONDON: Israel’s military operation in Gaza has raised questions about potential scenarios for postwar governance and security. The emerging consensus view — at least for now — seems to be the need for a two-state solution.

There are several barriers to the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, however. One immediate stumbling block is that the dream of Palestinian statehood rests on the fortunes of the incumbent administrations in Israel and the US.

The normally close allies appeared more divided than ever since Washington’s abstention in a UN Security Council vote on March 25 resulted in the passing of a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Relations soured further after seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen were killed on April 1 in a series of Israeli airstrikes while distributing food in the Gaza Strip, leading to additional censure by Washington.

Even before these events, the US government had voiced open support for a Palestinian state. In his State of the Union address on March 8, US President Joe Biden made clear that “the only real solution is a two-state solution.”

However, Biden faces a tight election slated for Nov. 5. If he loses to his Republican challenger, Donald Trump — who was an ardent supporter of Israel’s hard-right policies during his last presidency — a two-state outcome seems unlikely.

Indeed, chatter among Trump loyalists suggests the former president may be leaning toward support for the removal of Palestinians from Gaza once and for all, with the starkest indication coming from his son-in-law and former Middle East adviser Jared Kushner.

Asked at the Harvard Kennedy School in March whether he expected Benjamin Netanyahu to block Gazans from returning in the event they were removed en masse, Kushner said: “Maybe,” before adding: “I am not sure there is much left of Gaza.”

On March 5, Trump told Fox News that Israel had to “finish the problem” in Gaza. When asked about a two-state solution, Trump avoided the question, simply stating: “You had a horrible invasion that took place that would have never happened if I was president.”

On April 18, 12 countries at the UN Security Council voted to back a resolution recommending full Palestinian membership. Only the US voted against, using its veto to block the resolution.

The draft resolution called for recommending to the General Assembly “that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations” in place of its current “non-member observer state” status, which it has held since 2012.

The majority of the UN’s 193 member states — 137, according to a Palestinian count — have recognized a Palestinian state.

Regardless of the outcome of the draft resolution, the fate of Palestinian statehood also rests on the actions of the Israeli government and the views of a divided public.

Polling data from the Pew Research Center suggest that dwindling support for a two-state outcome in Israel has been driven primarily by the country’s Arab population.

In 2013, some 74 percent of Arab Israelis said that they believed an independent Israel and Palestine could coexist, with this number dropping to 64 percent in 2014 before plummeting to 41 percent in April last year.

Conversely, belief in peaceful coexistence among Jewish Israelis has fluctuated between 46 and 37 percent over the past 10 years, dropping to 32 percent before the Oct. 7 attacks.

Crucially, however, support for a single Israeli state has never been a majority view, with some 15 percent undecided, suggesting that the hesitancy in support for it is based on not knowing what such a system would look like in practice.

This assessment reflects that of Benjamin Case, postdoctoral research scholar at Arizona State University, who said that with the right framing, Israelis could come around to supporting a two-state solution.

“Public opinion shifts in response to horizons of political possibility,” Case told Arab News. “Israelis want the return of their loved ones who are held hostage, and they want guaranteed safety — and of course they want things that most people want, like healthy, prosperous lives.

“If a real solution is offered that brings peace and security, I think most Israelis will eventually get behind it.”

Lawmakers in Washington, it seems, are trying to provide such a framing. On March 20, a group of 19 Democratic senators issued a public call for Biden to establish a “bold, public framework” for the realization of the two-state solution once the war in Gaza is over.

Cognizant of the ongoing security concerns in Israel, the call suggested a model based on a “non-militarized Palestinian state.”

It called for the unification of both Gaza and the West Bank under the Palestinian flag, and said that this newly recognized country could be governed by a “revitalized and reformed Palestinian Authority.”

Case said that while it is important to recognize Israeli security concerns in forging a Palestinian state, any model needed to pay particular attention to the rights of Palestinians.

He stressed that Palestinian human rights “must come before the preferences of Israelis,” but said that meeting those needs with a Palestinian state was a “sensible solution for the extreme violence in Israel and Palestine.

“A Palestinian state would likely deprive Hamas of its reason for existing,” he said. “Hamas grew out of conditions of prolonged occupation, and thrives on the conflict.

“What popularity it has among Palestinians comes less from its governance and more because it represents resistance against occupation in a hopeless situation. If a path to a Palestinian state is realized, Hamas would have to reform significantly or would lose power.”

Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of the independent Jadaliyya ezine and a former analyst for International Crisis Group, is concerned that despite growing Western support for a two-state solution, the world appears no closer to achieving this goal.

“I don’t think a two-state settlement is now closer than previously,” Rabbani told Arab News. “The passage of time makes it increasingly difficult to achieve.

“A two-state settlement is a question of political will, not of artificial points-of-no-return. On this score, political will among Israel and its Western sponsors to end the 1967 occupation, without which there can be no two-state settlement, has been systematically non-existent.”

Nonetheless, he said, “in view of recent developments,” it was pertinent to pose “related but no less important questions” on the desirability of a two-state outcome and its durability in light of what he described as “the genocidal, irrational apartheid regime that is Israel.”

Regarding the positions of countries in the Arab world, he suggested there was “diminishing purchase” on the desire for peace with Israel.

Contesting Rabbani’s position, Case believes Palestinian statehood is now closer to becoming reality than it was on Oct. 6, and that the “gross disproportionality” of Israel’s response to the Hamas terror attack had played its part in this.”

“Ironically, had Israel shown restraint following the Oct. 7 attack, it may well have been the opposite,” he said.

“The brutality of the Hamas assault would likely have fostered unprecedented international sympathy for Israel, entrenching Israeli occupation policies.

“However, the Israeli military response, especially the shocking scale of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the genocidal remarks made by many Israeli officials toward Palestinians, have reversed the backfiring effect, raising international awareness about the injustices of the occupation and generating urgency to find a durable solution.”

The two-state solution, a proposed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was first proposed in 1947 under the UN Partition Plan for Palestine at the end of the British Mandate.

However, successive bouts of conflict, which saw Israel expand its area of control, put paid to this initiative.

Then in 1993, the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed on a plan to implement a two-state solution as part of the Oslo Accords, leading to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

This Palestinian state would be based on the borders established after the 1967 war and would have East Jerusalem as its capital. However, this process again failed amid violent opposition from far-right Israelis and Palestinian militants.

Since then, the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, reciprocal attacks, the undermining of the Palestinian Authority, and ever harsher security controls imposed by Israel, have left the two-state solution all but unworkable in the eyes of many.

For others, it remains the only feasible option.


UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit

UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit
Updated 16 min 47 sec ago
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UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit

UAE rolls out grand welcome for sultan of Oman’s state visit
  • Leaders witnessed the signing of several memorandums of understanding and agreements which span a wide range of sectors

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan welcomed Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq at an official reception at Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi on Monday, marking the sultan’s state visit, Emirates News Agency reported.

On Sultan Haitham’s arrival, his motorcade, escorted by Sheikh Mohamed, was greeted by a procession of riders on Arabian horses and camels.

Emirati folk groups performed music and dance to celebrate the visit.The ceremony included an inspection of the guard of honor by the leaders, alongside renditions of the UAE and Omani national anthems.A 21-gun salute was given in honor of Sultan Haitham’s visit as well as a flypast by the UAE Air Force’s aerobatics team, Al-Fursan, during which smoke was released in the colors of the Omani flag.

At Qasr Al-Watan, groups of Emirati children welcomed the leaders by waving the flags of both countries and chanting welcoming phrases. In celebration of the visit, Abu Dhabi’s landmarks and streets showcased Omani flags and displayed messages of welcome for Sultan Haitham.

Sheikh Mohamed and Sultan Haitham discussed the longstanding and historical ties between the UAE and Oman, focusing on cooperation across various sectors.

During their meeting, the leaders witnessed the signing of several memorandums of understanding and agreements which span a wide range of sectors, including investment, renewable energy, sustainability, railways, technology, and education.


Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine

Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine
Updated 22 April 2024
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Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine

Arab League chief praises UN Special Rapporteur Albanese for stand on Palestine
  • Aboul Gheit met Albanese at the headquarters of the Arab League General Secretariat in Cairo
  • Discussion centered on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, given continued Israeli violations against the civilian population

CAIRO: Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese discussed the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

Aboul Gheit met Albanese at the headquarters of the Arab League General Secretariat in Cairo.

The discussion centered on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, given continued Israeli violations against the civilian population over the past several months.

Albanese is the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Gamal Roshdy, the secretary-general’s spokesperson, conveyed Aboul Gheit’s commendation for the special rapporteur’s work and her courageous stance as a global conscience amid the “silence and indifference of many nations toward the atrocities committed by the occupying forces, which constitute acts of genocide.”

Roshdy quoted Aboul Gheit as affirming during the meeting that Israeli crimes could not be justified as mistakes or collateral damage from military operations.

“They are deliberate acts aimed at collectively punishing the population and depriving Palestinians of their fundamental right to live on their land.”

Aboul Gheit expressed his solidarity with Albanese in the face of incitement campaigns and accusations of antisemitism against her.

He said that the motives behind these campaigns were clear, highlighting Israel’s efforts to silence any independent voices that exposed the reality of the civilian massacre unfolding in the Gaza Strip. 

He said that Israel engaged in character assassination against individuals who revealed its falsehoods and deception to global public opinion.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Albanese discussed the condition of human rights and Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories on Sunday.

Shoukry received Albanese in Cairo, where they called for an immediate end to Israeli attacks on Gaza in compliance with international laws and demanded the safe delivery of humanitarian aid.


Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says

Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says
Updated 22 April 2024
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Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says

Drone attack targeted US forces in Iraq, US official says

BAGHDAD: US forces stationed at Iraq’s Ain Al-Asad air base were targeted in an armed drone attack that caused no damage or casualties, a US official said, in the second attack on US troops in the region in less than 24 hours.
The attacks follow a near-three month pause in the targeting of US forces in Iraq and Syria after months of near-daily rocket and drone strikes by Iran-backed Shiite Muslim armed factions over US backing of Israel’s Gaza campaign.


Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds

Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds
Updated 22 April 2024
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Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds

Israel fails to provide evidence for allegations against UNRWA staff so far, Colonna report finds
  • The report said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its claim that a significant number of UNRWA staff were members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad

LONDON: Israel has not provided evidence to support claims that staff members of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, an independent review led by the former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna revealed.

The Colonna review, drafted with the assistance of three Nordic research institutes, underscores the lack of substantiation for broader allegations made by Israel in March, accusing numerous UNRWA employees of affiliating with Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Major donors cut their funding to the agency in January, which is the primary source of humanitarian aid not only to Gaza but also to Palestinian refugees throughout the region, following Israel’s allegations.

This was despite the critical circumstances of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, the majority of whom have been displaced by Israel’s war since Oct. 7 and are struggling to access water, food, shelter, or medical care.

The report found that UNRWA has consistently supplied employee lists to Israel for vetting and that “the Israeli government has not informed Unrwa of any concerns relating to any Unrwa staff based on these staff lists since 2011.”

A more detailed assessment was sent to the UN by the three Nordic research bodies — the Swedish-based Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the Norwegian Chr Michelsen Institute, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

“Israeli authorities have to date not provided any supporting evidence nor responded to letters from Unrwa in March, and again in April, requesting the names and supporting evidence that would enable Unrwa to open an investigation,” the report stated.

The Colonna report deemed UNRWA indispensable for providing essential humanitarian aid and services, the Guardian reported.

“In the absence of a political solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Unrwa remains pivotal in providing life-saving humanitarian aid and essential social services, particularly in health and education, to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank,” it said.

“As such, Unrwa is irreplaceable and indispensable to Palestinians’ human and economic development. In addition, many view Unrwa as a humanitarian lifeline.”

The Colonna review proposes several enhancements to neutrality safeguards for UNRWA’s staff of over 32,000, including expanding the internal oversight service, increasing in-person training, and boosting support from donor countries. However, it acknowledges that UNRWA’s current measures are already more stringent than those of many similar organizations.

“The review revealed that Unrwa has established a significant number of mechanisms and procedures to ensure compliance with the humanitarian principles, with emphasis on the principle of neutrality and that it possesses a more developed approach to neutrality than other similar UN or NGO entities,” it said

One common criticism from Israel is that UNRWA schools throughout the region use Palestinian Authority textbooks containing antisemitic content, the Guardian reported. However, the technical report by the Nordic institutions found little evidence to support these allegations.

“Three international assessments of PA textbooks in recent years have provided a nuanced picture,” the report said. “Two identified presence of bias and antagonistic content, but did not provide evidence of antisemitic content. The third assessment, by the (German-based) Georg Eckert Institute, studied 156 PA textbooks and identified two examples that it found to display antisemitic motifs but noted that one of them had already been removed, the other has been altered.”

The recent resumption of funding by most donor nations, pending the Colonna report, reflects ongoing developments, while US financial support remains permanently banned due to the allegations.

A separate investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services into the Oct. 7 attack continues, the Guardian reported.