Dead Sea – Al-Quds.com
President of the Palestine Economic Council for Development & Reconstruction (PECDAR), Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh, has called on Arab banks to create an investment fund for Palestine, the monies of which would support productive projects, especially those in sectors which generate jobs, or are run on a for-profit, rather than a charitable, basis. During his speech at the “Reality of the Palestinian Financial Sector: Opportunities and Challenges” conference, Dr Shtayyeh said “Palestine is daring and the Arabs are daring, let capital be daring also.” The conference, organised by the Union of Arab Banks, takes place at the Dead Sea in Jordan today and tomorrow.
Dr Shtayyeh stressed the role of the private sector in the gradual disengagement from colonial dependency imposed on us by the occupation. He indicated that there is an official preference for strengthening economic relations with the Arab world. The Palestinian economy could act as a winch for policy decisions, he said, and enable local products to take the place of the Israeli products in our markets, and bolster the positions of our people in Jerusalem.
Shtayyeh laid out a picture of the economic situation to Arab investors and banking representatives, analysing the disturbances in the structure of the Palestinian economy caused by the occupation, as a result of the control over resources and borders. He said that despite all the challenges, there have still been success stories, such as the success of the banking sector, noting that the size of deposits in Palestinian banks is approximately 12 billion dollars. He added that the amount of corporate funds traded on the Palestinian securities market is valued at almost 3.5 billion dollars, and that there are about 115 thousand stockholders in companies listed on the Palestinian stock exchange.
Dr Shtayyeh explained that Palestinian banks are working under exceptional circumstances as a result of the occupation, which necessitates exceptional treatment to address the obstacles which they face. He asked Arab banks to grant facilities for productive loans, and to make it a priority to encourage investors to develop projects which would create jobs. He continued by saying that the private sector must be the principal creator of employment, and that it is unhealthy for the Palestinian Authority to remain the largest employer of the Palestinian workforce.
A number of challenges lie ahead for the Palestinians, Shtayyeh told the conference. First is the extremist government in Israel, which does not want a solution, and which undermines the Palestinian state through a tight grip on Area C, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, and the Gaza blockade, and its further attempts at “settlement bleaching” and its striving to make settlement legal. As for the second challenge, according to Shtayyeh, that resides with the new American establishment, which has not yet fully expressed its foreign policy, despite all the negative press which it has received. The third challenge is the weakening of Arab nations, and the destructive conflicts which it is experiencing, while finally the fourth challenge is to end the division and if there is a will, to work towards a possible solution for the conflict.
Translated by Conor Fagan
Original article found here.
The Iraqi government’s decision to proceed with demarcation of the maritime border with Kuwait and the agreement on navigation arrangements in Khor Abd Allah have provoked a furious reaction in political and public circles, considering it a concession on the most important Iraqi access point on the Persian Gulf. They claim that the decision, which is due to be debated in parliament shortly, is a “betrayal”. The bay is situated north of the Kuwaiti islands Bubiyan and Warbah and south west of the Al-Faw Peninsula. It extends into Iraqi territory, where it joins with Khor Al-Zubair, where Umm Qasir port is located. The Iraqi government had set the year 2010 for laying the founding stone in the construction of a large port on the eastern side of Al-Faw.
Aliyah Nasif Jasim, a deputy for the State of Law Coalition led by Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, said that “the cabinet voted to grant the Khor Abd Allah to Kuwait, and to spend 750 thousand dollars on demarcating the sea border, despite everyone knowing that it belongs to Iraq alone. The sea channel is not included in international resolutions, and anyone using this empty excuse is attempting to hoodwink the Iraqi people. This decision is a betrayal of Iraq.”
Deputy Awatif Naimah said in a statement that “This is the most important Iraqi maritime territory, and the agreement gives Kuwait top priority in control of the channel, despite the fact that UN Resolution 833 gave Iraq total control of navigation within it.”
Dozens of people demonstrated in the Basra Governorate yesterday, protesting the government’s decision. A number of activists stressed the damage which would affect its residents, as well as their rejection of this “violation” of sovereign Iraqi territory. MP Hanan al-Fatalawi submitted a query to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in relation to the Khor Abd Allah agreement. She said in a press conference that she is waiting for the head of the Council of Representatives to set an appointment with al-Abadi or one of his representatives for an answer.
Mazen al-Mazni, a deputy for cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s “Al-Ahrar Bloc”, considers “the decision to proceed with implementing the UN Resolution and redraw the border with Kuwait simply a donation of Iraqi land.” He asked the government to be careful about “trifling with national assets, as they are the property of Iraq and its people, and not of any person, minister or party. We will not allow any damage to come to our land.”
In an interview with ‘Al-Hayat’, deputy Maysoon al-Damluji said that “the redrawing of the border is due to an international resolution made without the presence of Iraq, and is part of the punishments levied against the previous regime.”
In a statement on social media, Ihsan al-Shammari, a close associate of the Prime Minister, wrote that the accusations being made against the government were “an attempt by corrupt politicians to shuffle the deck and sow confusion after the victories achieved by our heroic forces, in particular the successful expeditions in the left bank of Mosul. They are spreading these lies across websites and through the media in the hopes of gaining an early election.” He added that “Parliament passed a maritime law for Khor Abd Allah between Iraq and Kuwait on 22 August 2013. The former Council of Ministers ratified it on 27 January 2014, during a meeting of the Iraq-Kuwaiti joint higher committee. The day before yesterday, the cabinet was briefed on the report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs related to modernising the borders according to international standards, and this does not include a change in the reality of the current borders. It is a complete record of the 3rd session of the joint higher committee in 2013, which as mentioned was ratified 27 January 2014. The Council of Ministers committed to the implementation of the resolution, based on the obligations of the previous government.”
Translated by Conor Fagan
Original article found here.
Beirut – Al-Quds.com
The Lebanese president, General Michel Aoun has stated that the Palestinian question must be kept alive in order to reach fair and lasting peace in the Middle East.
During a meeting with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in the Lebanese capital Beirut, President Aoun said that Lebanan supports everything which can bring solidarity between the Arab nations.
He said that the League remains an authority, and hopes that the coming Arab summit, to be held in Jordan on March 29, will be able to address the current Arab issues. He stressed that Lebanon would contribute to any Arab effort in this direction.
For his part, in a statement after the meeting Aboul Gheit said that the visit to Lebanon served to emphasise the League’s support for Lebanon, and the great value it places in the role which Lebanon plays in the Arab League and beyond.
He explained that the meeting also included a discussion of ongoing preparations for the next Arab summit, and the importance of President Aoun’s participation, in addition to the current situations in the Arab states.
Referring to the new era of American president Donald Trump, and his remarks on relations between the US and Israel, Aboul Gheit said that, “Many of his statements lack precision, and that also applies to his future statements, in the sense that we don’t know what President Trump intends to do, even after a long conversation which has extended over a year.”
He added, “We are following and watching with great concern what President Trump says about Jerusalem, and we hope that he takes care and caution with relation to East Jerusalem, because there may be profound consequences if steps are taken which are not well thought out.”
Translated by Conor Fagan
Original article can be found here.
An Algerian diplomat expects that newly elected Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will visit Algeria in the near future because of its regional and international importance. Sisi was elected at the end of May after orchestrating the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 and has initiated a “war on terrorism” targeting Islamist groups in the country. Sisi caused a stir earlier this year when he stated that the Egyptian army could invade Algeria in three days. The comment sparked confusion in Algeria. Continue reading
European Union and Mauritanian officials met on Tuesday to discuss renewing the fishing agreement and expanding relations. During the meeting, EU officials praised Mauritanian efforts to create stability in the lead-up to presidential elections. Continue reading
King Mohammed VI of Morocco is preparing to visit to four sub-Saharan countries in an attempt to continue the North African country’s policies towards African countries. Morocco has a number of agreements with sub-Saharan states in different political, diplomatic, economic, social, cultural, religious and humanitarian fields. Continue reading
Iranian state television reported that Iran’s army successfully tested a new generation of long rang missiles, capable of reaching Israel and American military bases in the Middle East. Continue reading
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird recently congratulated Yemen on the success of its National Dialogue Conference. Baird considered the conference a historical achievement, paving the way for freedom, democracy, human rights and the Rule of Law in Yemen. The Foreign Minister also confirmed that Canada will continue to support Yemen during this period of political transition.
How does Stephen Harper’s Middle East foreign policy line up with historical Canadian policy with regards to the Israel-Palestine issue? al-Ittihad contends that Harper has completely deviated from past policies, and that his unwavering support for Israel has unsettled even some of his conservative support base back home.
The foreign ministers of Egypt and Canada met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss regional issues in the Middle East of mutual interest, especially the crisis in Syria and Geneva II, as well as how to develop Egyptian-Canadian bilateral relations.