Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Posts tagged “Egypt

Some good news for Gaza

  • Egypt announced today it is permitting 92 injured to receive medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals.
  • Rafah crossing will stay open until Monday, in both directions.
  • Gazans donated more than 600 units of blood in less than 24 hours, demonstrating their humanity.

 

 


Mass Murder in the Mediterranean: Mohammed’s Story

by the Al Rantisi Family
Source: Middle East Monitor

Mohammed Al Rantisi (right) with his friend and business partner Sajed (left). Their business was destroyed by five missiles from Israeli F16s.

Mohammed Al Rantisi (right) with his friend and business partner Sajed (left). Their business was destroyed by five missiles from Israeli F16s.

Over 400 asylum seekers, including 100 children, were drowned in international waters on their way to Italy after the boat they were travelling on was rammed on 10 September, 2014 by people-smugglers angry because the migrants refused to transfer to a smaller boat.

As a report into the mass murder by human rights organisation EuroMid says, the travellers from the Gaza Strip, Syria, Egypt and Sudan had been promised a safe journey to Europe on a secure and comfortable ship.

One of them was our son and brother, Mohammed Al Rantisi, a 23 year old Management and Technology graduate heading to Europe in search of a brighter future. His favourite song was a message of farewell. (more…)


A Severely Dashed Hope

A Severely Dashed Hope.

by Saleh Orouq

saleh (400 x 399)

After I was chosen for a week summer school in New York from among more than 15,000 applicants -yes, more than 15,000 applicants-, I got jubilant to the extent that I couldn’t study for my final exams. I got so happy that I unvoluntarily kissed my brother before even telling him that I was chosen; I rushed and kissed my parents and my little brother as well. I promised my little brother to buy him the best gift I could get from the U.S.

My friends, my true ones, were so happy that I got such an opportunity of lifetime. I planned to have sheets on which my friends’ names to be written and to picture these sheets in front of the Statue of Freedom- I don’t know why I just smiled mockingly while typing “Freedom”. (more…)


Fawzi Barhoum on Shajaiyah, resistance and ceasefire

by Julie Webb-Pullman

The scene in many Shajaiyah homes today- entire families wiped out

The scene in many Shajaiyah homes today- entire families wiped out

Gaza is today reeling from the brutal massacre of scores of people in the Shajaiyah neighbourhood east of Gaza City. Israeli tanks relentlessly shelled the area overnight, cutting off electricity and water supplies. Families huddled together, unable to flee because of the danger.

As day broke 40,000 people fled, carrying whatever they could. Bodies began arriving at Shifa Hospital from dawn – some 70 bodies were brought in but scores more dead and wounded still lay in the streets.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum today condemned the massacre.

“This is a war crime, why is there such a deafening silence from the world, from Egypt, from Mr Abbas, from the Arab countries? This encourages the occupation to continue such massacres,” he said in Gaza City.

Read more HERE


Why the Egyptian-Israel truce proposal falls on deaf ears

by Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Middle East Monitor

No guarantee to open Rafah Crossing or lift the crippling siege

No guarantee to open Rafah Crossing or lift the crippling siege

The cynical ‘ceasefire’ chorus being sung by Israel and Egypt is merely yet another movement in the well-orchestrated Israeli-Egyptian three-penny opera.

The way in which the ‘negotiations’ were carried out was more farce than finale – Egypt wrote the libretto for the Israeli impresario, leaving the Palestinians in the wings.

The terms themselves are a three-act charade. The Israeli-Egyptian duet omits a core Hamas demand – any mention of the release of more than 50 Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Shalit swap who were re-detained during the recent West Bank ‘search’ for three missing Israeli settlers.

Nor does it commit to either re-open the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, or to lift the crippling – and illegal – Israeli siege of Gaza, merely saying that “crossings shall be opened and the movement of persons and goods through (them) shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Both of these are core demands of the entire Palestinian resistance – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and everyone in between.

Any ceasefire that does not change the fundamental paradigm, a hermetically-sealed Gaza and a ‘normal Israel,’ will garner only encore after encore, as every previous performance has done. Read more HERE


Gaza Update: hostilities continue

In the last hour, Israeli warplanes targeted the following sites in the Gaza Strip:
– The military Site “Abu Atayah” of Nasser Saladin Brigades, west of Rafah.
– The military Site “Saad Sayel” of Qassam Brigades east of Rafah.
– A piece of agricultural land near the site of “Safina” northwest of Gaza City.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the attacks.

In response, Palestinian resistance have launched new rocket attacks, and Israeli planes are flying west of Gaza.

The escalation of hostilities in the past few days was set off by an Israeli airstrike which killed three members of islamic Jihad on Tuesday. Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and 33-year-old Abd al-Shafi Muammar were all killed in southeast Khan Younis near the Sufa crossing.

Khaled al-Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, last night announced they had agreed to restore the calm, but the truce was shortlived, perhaps because of the way it was negotiated.

Ma’an reported that an Egyptian official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that Egyptian national security services contacted Israel and the Islamic Jihad, but not Hamas, in order to negotiate the re-activation of the 2012 ceasefire.

al-Batch told Associated Press, “As long as the occupation [Israel] honors the calm, we will honor the calm and instructions are being given right now to al-Quds brigades, our military wing, about this understanding.”

Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told al-Mayadeen channel that the group was “not informed by Egypt about any agreement, and the Egyptian side should have coordinated with Hamas.”

Other signs that hostilities are likely to continue are that on Thursday, Israeli armed forces called up its air force reserves, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The Israeli Cabinet met on Thursday morning to dicsuss the situation in Gaza, and the decision to call the reserves was made by Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. Haaretz noted that calling up reserves requires the approval of the Knesset security and foreign committee, and a waiting period of 48 hours.

Only one thing is certain – as long as Israel coninues to occupy Palestinian territory, as long as Israel and Egypt continue their siege of the Gaza Strip, and as long as the international community continues to ignore Israel’s gross breaches of international law and the impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza, peace will be but a dream.


Gaza: Between the Devils and the Deep Blue Sea

WTF? Israel carries out ANOTHER blatant act of piracy in international waters? And expects the world to believe the fiction they were headed for Gaza? A country under Israeli naval blockade for the last seven years??? Even the BB boys Bush and Blair managed better Words of Mass Deception than THAT!

murder-on-the-sea2

Of course it is AIPAC week, so we can expect a series of attention-seeking missiles across the bows to distract the public from the spectacle of servility and sycophancy assaulting our senses from Washington. But a freaking great shipload of M302’s to go where even Gaza’s fishermen fear to row?!! I don’t think so.

Such nonsense is surpassed only by Netanyahu’s AIPAC-aired demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which is neither part of the agreed negotiating terms nor even part of any recognised approach to international diplomacy. Does EVERY country have to recognise Israel as such? When and where can we all join the “Israel is a Jewish state” club? At the same time as we join the “Egypt and the Ukraine are democracies” clubs, perhaps?

Not only is it AIPAC week, but also Ukraine week, where the self-proclaimed government in Kiev just appointed dual Israeli-Ukranian citizen Igor Kolomoysky as governor of Dnepropetrovsk. He also happens to be the third richest man in the Ukraine, which may help overcome the difficulty of governing a Ukranian region from his home in Switzerland…

And Cairo week was also a bit of a coup, with a court managing to ban purported activities in Egypt of Palestinian political party Hamas. Who cares about legal niceties such as presenting evidence, or the right to mount a defence when you have enough kangaroos jumping around to keep all eyes off who is filling their pouches?

And Gaza week – well, that is every week. Forget the truce – that is only for the Palestinians. Israel assassinated two young men this week in a drone strike, in a blatant breach. And militants aren’t their only targets. From the scrap collector shot in the head to the middle-aged woman shot in the stomach, the football players shot in the legs and feet to end their potential careers, civilians are being killed and maimed daily. Since 20 December 2013, 55 Gazan civilians have been injured ON THEIR OWN SIDE OF THE BORDER by Israeli soldiers – 43 by live fire, 10 by rubber-coated metal bullets, and two hit in the head by canisters.

But that’s Israel. That’s Egypt. That’s Gaza.

Gaza, the elephant at the so-called peace talks.

Gaza, already reeling from seven years of siege and the theft of its water by Israel, now facing certain strangulation from the south.

Gaza, the Yarmouk about to happen, but from which everyone turns away.

Gaza, bordered by the magnificent Mediterranean – but which they can barely enter. Gaza, Bordered by Egypt, whose enmity has now been slammed on the tabletop, and by Israel, whose ongoing crimes speak for themselves – to a deaf world.

Gaza, land of life and love, and love of life and Allah, whatever the faction.

Gaza, between the devils and the deep blue sea.

Latuff1


Cairo court bans Hamas activities in Egypt

On Tuesday a Cairo court placed a temporary ban on Palestinian political party and elected government Hamas from carrying out any activities in Egypt, and ordered the confiscation of its offices.

The court action followed a complaint filed by an Egyptian lawyer, Samir Sabry, asking it to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation.

Hamas officials strongly condemned the decision as politically motivated.

“Hamas has neither activities nor official offices in Egypt, whether before, during or after the [2011 revolution],” a Hamas official said in a statement e-mailed to Ahram Online, an Egyptian news service.

“The decision targets the Palestinian people … and is consistent with goals to fight and eliminate the Palestinian resistance, against which Hamas is a bulwark,” the official added.

While the ruling is subject to appeal and to the final judgment of ousted President Morsi’s trial on charges of collaboration with the group to carry out ‘hostile acts’ in Egypt, it has caused considerable alarm throughout Gaza, already reeling under the effects of a seven-year Israeli siege further exacerbated by Egypt’s closure of both the Rafah crossing, and the tunnel lifelines.

“This decision will make the Palestinian people pay the price as it will be used to tighten the blockade on the Gaza strip,” senior Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told the media.

Hamas said it has been the subject of an “unprecedented media and political campaign of incitement and defamation” in Egypt, and maintains the allegations against it are completely unfounded and unjustified.

After its weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Palestinian Government in Gaza announced it is considering the seriousness of the court decision, and called on officials in Egypt to review the ruling, as it is tantamount to Egypt abandoning its historic role in support of the Palestinian people.

The Egyptian court might also pause to consider the implications of its Hamas ban for its international obligations, such as to Articles 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

Hamas is a legitimate political party that democratically came to power in Palestine in 2006 through a fair, free and open electoral process endorsed as such by national and international observers. Its members and leaders have the right to hold and express their beliefs in any country signatory to the ICCPR.


What are they doing to Rafah?

Norway, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand have already done it. The United Kingdom, Germany, Greece and Italy are about to.

Activists all around the planet are today presenting Egyptian embassies and consulates with the demands of more than 12,000 people worldwide to permanently open the Rafah crossing, leave the tunnels alone, and allow travel and trade for Gazans trapped by the Israeli siege.

First off the mark was Norway, where Lene Oline Sedolfsen presented the petition to the Egyptian diplomats. Next was Ottowa, where Tyler Levitan and Hassan Husseini made the delivery. Then Washington DC, where Pam Bailey accompanied Medea Benjamin and Gael Murphy to the Egyptian consulate presented the demands to Dr. Yasser Elwy. In Sydney James Godfrey and Michael Coleman from Free Gaza Australia handed it over to consular official Ahmed Morsy, while in New Zealand Egyptian embassy official Mahmoud Zayed received it from Julie Webb-Pullman in Wellington.

James Godfrey presents the petition to Ahmed Morsy in Sydney

James Godfrey presents the petition to Ahmed Morsy in Sydney

The petition, an initiative of the #OpenRafahBorder International Campaign, a grassroots organisation of students and activists from Gaza who deceided to do something about the suffering caused by the Rafah border closures, was accepted by all of the diplomats with courtesy and respect, and promises to forward them to their superiors in Cairo.

The activists reported the diplomats also made the same points:
• While Egypt is concerned about the situation in Gaza, it is primarily an issue for Israel as the occupying power. Thus, for example, Egypt does not want to formalize or legalize the tunnels — which would let Israel off the hook, while also jeopardizing Egypt’s security.
• Egypt has a right to deal with security issues in the Sinai Peninsular. There is no policy calling for, or a desire to impose, collective punishment. Its restrictions on traffic in and out of Rafah come only when there is terrorist activity in the Sinai. Egypt must also worry about its population there, so there is an inevitable, unavoidable trade-off.
• Egypt is working to end the occupation by supporting John Kerry’s so-called “peace process.”
• Egypt feels a strong bond with the Palestinians, and always will.

While it is not surprising to hear them all singing from the same songbook, they may find themselves surprised by the increasingly loud chorus from the international community unsatisfied with their libretto.

Nothing any of the Egyptian diplomats said justifies the role of Egypt in the continued closure of Gaza, and the ongoing suffering of 1.7 million people.

“Ultimately, Rafah must be expanded to allow security without closure, as well as the movement of goods, in addition to people,” said Pam Bailey after the meeting in Washington DC.

Is this a realistic prospect?

It certainly is. Earlier this month Israel rejected a donated high-tech container scanner at the Kerem Shalom crossing that Dutch officials consider would provide a solution to Israel’s security concerns about Gazan exports.

If the Egyptians are serious about their bond with Palestinians, avoiding collective punishment, and dealing with security issues, they and the Netherlands could negotiate the scanner’s relocation to Rafah – and open the border forthwith.

Lene Oline Sedolfsen presents the petition  in Norway

Lene Oline Sedolfsen presents the petition in Norway

From Canada to Egypt, with love - for Gaza

From Canada to Egypt, with love – for Gaza


As Gaza drowns in sewage, UN rapporteur announces first UN World Toilet Day

Gaza streets awash with sewage. Photo: Majed Abusalama

Gaza streets awash with sewage. Photo: Majed Abusalama

As streets in Gaza flow with excrement, as families stay awake until 2am to take advantage of the two hours that water will flow through the taps – if they are lucky – the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, celebrated the UN General Assembly’s decision declaring 19th of November as UN World Toilet Day with a Press Release on November 15.

The irony will not escape Palestinians in Gaza – they must be asking themselves “Is she for real?” Or is it just a very cynical preliminary to announcing Gaza’s latest distinction – from being the largest open air prison in the world, to being the largest open air toilet?

“I hope this declaration galvanises national and international action to reach the billions of people who still do not benefit from this basic human right,” the Special Rapporteur said in the statement released the day after the al-Sabra neighbourhood in al-Zaytoun, Gaza City, was flooded with sewage.

Perhaps she could make a special effort to contact Israel and Egypt directly, being the UN member states that are preventing the entry of fuel supplies into Gaza necessary to run the power plant that provides the electricity to run the sanitation and water pumps that would enable Gazans to enjoy this ‘basic human right.’

Perhaps she could make a special effort to remind the Palestinian Authority (PA) to take off their blinkers and ‘observe’ the conditions of their fellow statesmen and women in Gaza, and maybe even suggest the PA cease colluding with Israel in extorting exorbitant prices for fuel from the besieged Gazan authorities – fuel which the European Community has funded, but which both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are seeking to profiteer from by imposing on Gaza excessive price hikes (Israel), and additional taxes (the PA).

And perhaps the United Nations and its member states could ‘put their money where their mouth is’ – they still have three days in which to clean up their act, and ensure that World Toilet Day is not the day that Gaza is officially accorded that questionable distinction.


Mursi the Man

In the last week much has been made of the purported failings of Mursi the President, and Mursi the politician. He tried to do too much, or did too little, he took too much power (for his party), or not enough (from the military and security services). He went too fast, or not fast enough. Some identified a failing as his lack of charisma, comparing him to “the more charismatic Khairat El-Shater” or lauding the “charismatic, chisel-jawed Sisi” – as if charisma is a substitute for principled leadership, or political legitimacy.

We need only look to the United States and to Israel to see what unprincipled leadership charisma is capable of delivering, including on electoral promises. Remember the closure of Guantanamo and the reduction of unemployment promised by US President Barack Obama, remember Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to appoint former communications minister Moshe Kahlon as chairman of the Israel Lands Authority. And remember both of these leaders’ unstinting terrorism at home and abroad.

Mursi the man, by contrast, is who the majority of the Egyptian people elected in internationally-recognised free and fair elections, not for his charisma but for his humanity.

Mursi the man, unassuming, imperfect, humble, human – and Muslim.

Mursi the Muslim man, who bared his chest at his inauguration to show that he was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, to demonstrate his trust and faith in the Egyptian people. Some of whom are now betraying him, and them.

Mursi the Muslim man, who in 2005 led demonstrations supporting independence for all judges. Some of whom are now betraying him, and them.

Mursi the Muslim man, who was in and out of jail under the Mubarak regime “due to his constantly firm stance” against its repressive measures and oppressive practices. The remnants of which continue to betray their people.

Mursi the Muslim man, trying to lead his country out of 30 years of corruption and an enormous public debt, by transforming the machinery of the Mubarak dictatorship into “an executive branch that represents the people’s true will and implements their public interests,” according to Islamic principles of justice, equality, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, labour, perseverance – and forgiveness.

Mursi the Muslim man, who did not seek, but was propelled to, the presidency of Egypt – by his party and by the majority of the Egyptian people. Most of whom are still behind him.

Mursi the Muslim man – deposed and detained.

For what? For being democratically elected by the people of Egypt? What greater disincentive could there be for future presidential hopefuls… if indeed there were to be another free and fair electoral process now that Egyptian democracy has been so ignominiously usurped.

For failing to do in one year what no leader anywhere or any time has ever achieved – a 12-month complete turnaround of a decades-old corrupt and embedded system?

For dealing fairly and openly with another democratically-elected – and Islamic – political party, Hamas? The rumoured charges pending against him strongly suggest this.

For opening the Rafah border to his brothers and sisters in the besieged Gaza Strip to enable a breath of life to enter, and the foul stench of Zionist oppression to escape and turn the stomach of the world? The quick closure of the Rafah crossing, and the barely-restrained glee of the Israeli administration, equally strongly suggest this.

Mursi the Muslim man stands guilty of two things – being elected president of Egypt, and being principled.

The first was not by his choice.

The second is what it is to be a Muslim, and a man.

How should he plead?

Guilty, with honour.


Time for the Egyptian ‘opposition’ to observe democratic norms

07 December 2012

It is not the Morsi government that has lost legitimacy, but the manifestly mis-named National Salvation Front.

In a genuine democracy, the opposition accepts that the government is elected to rule and that the opposition’s role is constructive criticism and keeping alternative policies in view – through the parliamentary process.

An opposition that spurns the parliamentray process, that spurns dialogue, and that sinks to vicious street thuggery in order to achieve its ends does not deserve the support or respect of the Egyptian people, or of the international community.

The torching of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and several other regional centres, attacks on the Presidential Palace and on Morsi’s home, and the murder of six Morsi supporters by ‘opposition’ protesters are hardly the hallmarks of democracy, or of a legitimate opposition, in action.

Rather, they are the hallmarks of a brutal, illegitimate and concerted destabilisation attempt – and it is no coincidence that it comes hot on the heels of the Egyptian-brokered Isarel-Gaza ceasefire agreement.

The roles of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and co-conspirator Amr Moussa, ex-leader of the Arab League, in these shameful proceedings is nothing short of scandalous. Both should know better.

If ever two people disqualified themselves from serious consideration for leadership roles in a democratic state by their own blatantly undemocratic behaviour, surely these two must top the list by their actions over the past week.

Mahmoud Hussein, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood, was generous in describing opposition protesters’ behaviour as “crude and contemptible ways of expression, rather than (putting) their points across in a civilized manner” – many would call it outright barbarity.

If there is to be any ‘national salvation’ in Egypt, it must begin with dialogue, not with street thuggery masquerading as legitimate dissent.

And if creating a genuine democracy in Egypt is the aim of the opposition, and of the Egyptian people, the first steps should be taken in the houses of parliament, not in the streets.

Isn’t that what 846 Egyptians died for in 2011?


EGYPTIAN ‘OPPOSITION’ TRYING TO GOVERN FROM THE STREET

06 December 2012

The world was sympathetic when Egyptians took to the streets in January 2011 demanding the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship, and its replacement with democracy, and a new constitution.

We supported them as they stayed there until Mubarak was gone.

We mourned their dead, and sympathised with the wounded who fell in the so-called ‘revolution.’

We continued to support them through the following year-and-a-bit until they held open, free and fair elections, and democratically elected a new President.

Egyptians said they wanted democracy, and we supported them in their struggle for it, and for its machinery – elections, majority rule, governance by the elected representatives, a new constitution.

Why, then, do the ‘losers’ of the elections refuse to accept or live with its results?

Why then, are they trying to impose the views of this minority on the constituent assembly, the government, and the country itself?

Why, then, are THEY trying to govern from the streets, with violence, destruction of private property, blocking public passage, instead of leaving it to the legitimately-elected representative government to do, within its legitimate powers?

Why, then, do they refuse to behave democratically, and vote in the referendum on the proposed constitution?

This time, the cries from the barricades do not ring true in the ears of the world. And its people are fast losing both patience – and sympathy – with the Egyptian ‘opposition.’

One of the protesters’ complaints is that the judiciary has had its powers to kick out the President curtailed.

In precisely which country does the judiciary have the power to do this? The US? Certainly not – it can impeach the President, but the Senate – not the judiciary – must then hold a trial, and only following a conviction can the President be ousted.

In most other democratic countries the judiciary cannot remove the President or Prime Minister – they can only be removed by:
a) the people, in elections,
b) a vote of no confidence in the parliament, or
c) loss of mandate within their own political party.

If the Egyptian ‘opposition’ is genuine in its desire for democracy, then it will do as numerous countries have done to Prime Ministers and Presidents they no longer want – vote them out in the next elections, or hold a no-confidence vote.

The latter move has ousted leaders in the following 46 countries:
Prime Ministers: Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sweden, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Turks and Caicos Islands, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia
Presidents: French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States of America.

Of course, that relies on the Egyptian ‘opposition’ actually being committed to democracy…

Many commentators have criticised President Morsi for (legitimately) extending his powers to pre-empt yet another (illegitimate) assault on the aims of the revolution by corrupt remnants of the Mubarak regime. Others have compared Morsi with Mubarak.

Both – whether deliberately or otherwise – fail to acknowledge, or appreciate the implications of, the context in which Morsi extended his powers.

Elements of the former regime, particularly the Judicial Council, have been consistently trying to get rid of the Morsi government. As Thomas R. Eddlem wrote in The New American, “The parliament had been elected in January 2012, but was dissolved by the military after the June Supreme Judicial Council decision claiming the elections were invalid. The November 7 decree followed similar rulings by the same court in July and September upholding the dissolution of the parliamentary Assembly.”

Was extending his powers a power-grab by Morsi, or the pre-empting of yet another one by others, aided and abetted by remnants of the old regime?

The comparisons with Mubarak also do not bear up under scrutiny – Mubarak abused his powers for some 30 years, accompanied by blatant repression, particularly of political opponents. Morsi, by contrast, has not abused any of his powers, either old or new.

In fact, he has sought dialogue and co-operation with the ‘opposition’ and unlike Mubarak, he has not used violence and repression against protesters – unfortunately, they seem to be doing that to themselves without any help from state forces.

This month Egyptians must decide on more than just a new constitution – they must also decide whether they want mob rule from the streets, which is what demands for Morsi’s departure amount to.

At the risk of repeating myself, if Egyptians genuinely want democracy, they should accept its outcomes, and work with the government elected by the majority for the good of all Egyptians.

Failure to do so risks forgoing international support from anyone other than those with an agenda to destabilise this fledgling democracy, and crush the people of Egypt – and beyond.

ENDS


Is Morsi next in the line of fire?

23 November 2012

Given his role in the Gaza-Israeli ceasefire, it was only a matter of time before Egypt’s President Morsi found himself in the sights.

Few expected it to be quite so fast.

Protests across Egypt are underway, both in support of, and against Morsi’s ‘surprise Constitutional Declaration’ on Thursday.

The inability of those screaming for democracy to actually accept its results is staggering. One of their major complaints was that the Constituent Assembly formed to draft the new Constitution was ‘unrepresentative’ – and despite a new agreement on its composition being reached in June 2012, non-Islamists continue to complain.

The Egyptain election results were clear – the Islamists won power, by a clear majority. Non-Islamists, especially those espousing democracy, should have no trouble in accepting this outcome, ie that they are in a minority, and are subject the decisions of the majority.

Most have withdrawn from the Constituent Assembly – but even then, they only constitute 25%, leaving a weighty 75% still in there. Which bit of ‘majority’ do they not understand?

That is what democracy is. That is what they have been, and continue, screaming for at the barricades.

The outcome of the Constituent Assembly, the proposed new Constitution, will go to referendum, and the people will get to vote for – or against – it. What is ‘undemocratic’ about this?

And the Constitutional Declaration – why should it concern them, for instance, that the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council (upper house of parliament) will be immune to dissolution by a judicial body? These bodies were elected by, or on behalf of, the people, not appointed by the judiciary, and in a real democracy, they should be dissolved by the people, not by any other authority, judicial or otherwise.

Does the US judiciary have the power to dissolve the Senate? Does the British judiciary have the power to dissolve the House of Lords? Why should the Egyptian judiciary have such powers?

Who appoints the Attorney General in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada? The Prime Minister! Who appoints the Attorney General in the United States? The President! Is this the type of ‘separation of powers’ they are calling for in Egypt?

The purpose of the Declaration is to speed up the transition to a new Constitution, and a newly-elected Parliament under the new Constitution – something the ‘revolutionaries’ all desired, but also something some in the current judiciary have been doing their best to prevent.

Morsi’s move has been praised by the spokesperson for the ‘Coalition of Judges for Egypt’, Justice Walid Sharabi, who particularly praised the dismissal of the Public Prosecutor, saying “Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, the Public Prosecutor, has long defended the toppled regime, sought to corrupt the judiciary and to create a justice system rotten to the core.”

So is this latest round just a front for the massive destabilisation attempt we have been expecting since Morsi’s election, and more especially, since the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza brokered by Egypt this week?

As leading Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member Essam El-Erian said in Al Ahram Online today when condemning reported attacks on FJP offices in several governates, “They are acts of thuggery hiding behind [opposition] political forces.”

With its role as mediator and guarantor of the ceasefire agreement, and Israel’s killing of at least one Palestinian and the injuring of nine more in a clear breach of the agreement before the ink has even dried, Egypt’s position is both pivotal, and vulnerable to destabilisation by those with the most to gain from distracting Egypt at best, and bringing down the Morsi regime at worst.

No prizes for guessing the identity of who is paying these ‘pipers’ of dissent in Egypt, and whose fingers will be as sticky with Egyptian blood as they already are with the blood of Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Libyans and Iranians, if they are allowed to prevail.


Press statement issued by Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh

Press statement Issued by the Prime Minister
(badly translated by JWP)

Wednesday November 21, 2012

Prime Minister satisfied with this agreement, proud of the steadfastness of our people and their resistance, and thankful for Egypt’s leading role

The Palestinian people have forged a new model in their steadfastness, patience, generosity and creativity in the face of calamities and difficulties, and proved to be people of unbending resolve able to achieve their will.

Following the announcement of the cease-fire we emphasize the following:
1 – We mourn all the martyrs over the past seven days of Israeli aggression and treachery, and call on the Almighty to ensure a speedy recovery for all the wounded.
2 – We salute the heroic Palestinian people, who expressed legendary steadfastness in the face of the Israeli war machine and aggression.
3 – We express our deep appreciation for the heroic Palestinian resistance and exchanges which showed substantial strength in defense of the Palestinian people.
4 – We appreciate the great vigil of the masses of the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and elsewhere to stand alongside their brothers and their people in the Gaza Strip, and defying the occupation’s expectations and embodying the unity of our people, rallying around the aim of steadfastness and resistance.
5 – We express our deep appreciation to the Arab Republic of Egypt and the great role played by President Mohammed Mursi and his government, and bless their efforts in order to reach this honorable termination of aggression against our people.
6 – We appreciate the efforts made ​​by the Arab League and all regional and international parties who stood by our people at this critical stage and who were quick to come to the Gaza Strip to express the position of solidarity in support of Palestinian resolve.
7 – We congratulate our people on this victory that proved the Palestinian peoples’ and the valiant resistance’s high resilience, creativity, and composure and showed the nation would stand by the people and that they are not alone, and we confirm that we are satisfied with this agreement.


Gaza Update: 140 deaths, 1000 injured, 28 transfers to Egypt

21 November 2012

Overnight the toll in Gaza has risen to:
140 deaths
1000 injured

28 cases have been transferred to Egypt, which has opened the border 24/7 to receive the injured.

Al Shifa hospital reports that the Egyptian assistance is enabling them to cope, and they still have a few Intensive Care Unit beds available.


Tunisian Foreign Minister arrives in Gaza, slams Israel

Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem spoke at a Press Conference a Al Shifa Hospital today after his arrival in Gaza amidst ferocious aerial attacks, and slammed Israel’s breaches of international norms.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem in Gaza

“We who have come from Tunisia carry a strong and clear message from our Prime Minister and members of the government to express our strong solidarity with Gaza against Israeli aggression,” he said.

“What is happening to the citizens of Gaza is not justified, and is contrary to all international law and regulations. We have just seen the injured, the wounded and the martyrs and all of these manifestations are unacceptable.

This unjustified targeting of civilians and the targeting of schools and civic institutions, public and private property is unacceptable and illegal. We come charged with a message to express our solidarity and support of our brothers, the people of Gaza.”

He went on to say that Israel must recognise international norms and laws, and it should be aware that there are different variables now occurring in the Arab world.

He called on the Council of Arab States and the international community to take a united stance to address the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, stressing the need to take positions similar to that of the Egyptian President, in order to strengthen and enhance it.


Gaza: Haniyeh aces the Tuneless Trio.

As the United States and the United Kingdom sing from Israel’s songbook, the Arab world is again rising up in protest – this time at the Israeli crimes against humanity again being perpetrated against Palestinians – and anyone else who has remained – in Gaza.

Mainstream media tries to bury the truth of the sequence of events and who is to blame, most shamelessly the BBC, who did not even report the civilian deaths of the son and sister-in-law of one of their own staffers, leaving it to the Washington Post to cover – far enough away, they probably hoped, that few UK readers would see it. But that didn’t stop the Washington Post squealing in the chorus.

Despite their best attempts to entomb the truth, the people of the world have also risen up in support of Gaza, and Palestine.

Protest in London against Israel’s massacre in Gaza


Israel – and its silly songsters – may find that this time they are way off key.

As Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in his first address to the nation since the assassination of Ahmad al-Jaabari, Palestinians “will remain faithful to our martyrs’ noble blood.”

“It is only the beginning of our journey,” he warned.

“Armed with our faith, we are confident in our resistance fighters standing in defiance. Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Territories of 1948 – it is your battle, your own people, blood, and dignity,” he said in a clear call for unity.

“Yes, we rise in revolt. I hail the unity and united action taken by all factions, we are one people, one front.”

Haniyeh said the Government embraces the Palestinian people, and thanked them for their steadfastness. He also praised the resistance, “our victorious defiant brigades” who remain defending the nation on all fronts.

“We appreciate their fortitude in the face of death and of this ferocious assault. I kiss your hands, our noble fighters.”

The Prime Minister extended appreciation to “all free men and women in the Arab world revolting in our support until this belligerent aggression comes to an end.”

Already standing alongside Gaza are Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Qatar – and after Saturday, we can expect even more.

Netanyahu may well have tripped over his own red line, wrapped it around his neck and that of his tone-deaf twins – and strangled his own finale.


Sinai Hospitals to receive Gaza patients

Arabic press has reported that Sinai Hospitals are now in a state of high alert, to receive Gaza injuries.


Minister of Health calls for international intervention, emergency medical aid in Gaza

At a Press Conference outside Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City the Minister of Health Dr Mofed Al Makhalalaty called on the international community to immediately intervene to prevent another massacre of Gaza civilians, such as occurred during Operation Cast Lead four years ago.

Minister of Health Dr Mofed Al Makhalalaty outside Shifa Hospital tonight

Declaring a state of emergency, the Minister told journalists that ambulance crews, as well as emergency and operating rooms in Gaza have been on a high level of alert for the last week, but that the chronic shortage of medicines and supplies caused by the siege is being exacerbated by the numbers of injuries caused in today’s attacks.

He recalled that in one day during Operation Cast Lead, one month’s medical supplies were exhausted in only one day, and said if the situation deteriorates further they will not be able to cope.

He called on the international community and the Islamic world to send emergency aid to the Gaza Strip, especially medical supplies and drugs to deal with the injuries resulting from the Israeli attacks.

Shortly after the Press Conference, the head of an Egyptian delegation of pharmacists currently visiting Gaza, Dr Mohamed Abdel Gawad, announced that in the next 24 hours a delegation of surgeons will arrive from Egypt to provide any necessary assistance to Palestinian doctors.

Dr Mohamed Abdel Gawad said, “What hurts me and hurts my colleagues is that we as Arabs are not doing our duty towards you.”

At the time of writing, the death toll stood at 8, with 90 injuries, the vast majority of them civilians, and including many women and children.


Egyptian writers welcomed to Gaza

Palestinian Minister of Sports, Youth, and Culture Mohammed Al-Madhoun, along with local writers and intellectuals, this evening welcomed a delegation of writers from Egypt, who will be in Gaza for the next four days.

‘Meeting of Minds’ – Egyptian intellectuals and their Gaza counterparts

Speaking at a cultural event at Al Mashtal Hotel at which some of the six Egyptians and several Palestinians performed their works, Al-Madhoun noted that the visitors will rebuild bridges between the intellectuals of Egypt and Gaza.

One of the delegation, Abdul Al-Rahman Yousef, informed the audience that when the delegation was told that because of the current Israeli attacks on Gaza it is not safe to travel here, they responded that they [the Egyptian delegation] are no more important than those who die here, so they will come and die with them.

Another added that when he arrived, he was surprised by the resolve of the Palestinian people. “I am here to learn from the heroes of Gaza, who write history with their blood,” he said.

Palestinian poet Abel Al-Khaled Al- A’f launched the cultural segment of the evening with a poem he wrote after Abu Mazen’s speech giving up his right of return, in which he wrote that Safed now does not want him.

Two Palestinian women poets gave impassioned and inspired performances, one of Alaa al-Katrawy can be seen below – it is only in Arabic, sorry!


Translation at event by Fatma Al-Hasham


Mahmoud Zahar on Rafah, the Free Trade Zone and more

After this morning’s event I took up the Rafah issue with another attendee, Dr Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas co-founder and politburo member.

Dr Mahmoud Zahar

“Firstly, we need to make it clear that we appreciate and understand that President Mursi has many internal troubles, and he is concentrating on his own country’s national and global interests. Perhaps we were a bit too optimistic. The old regime is still running many things, like security, and no change is possible yet. We need to wait, and not pressure them,” he told me.

“The Free Trade Zone was not an official proposal, it was a Muslim Brotherhood project, but they started talking about it in the media.”

What about the closure of the tunnels we have been reading about, I asked. Is this going to create shortages in Gaza?

“The only tunnels being closed are those being used for illegal purposes, so we are happy about that, the ones being used to bring in drugs, weapons and for other illegal purposes. Egypt will not allow the closure of tunnels to such an extent that it causes food shortages,” he replied.

“1500 people daily are passing through Rafah now, it is open seven days a week. There are still some restrictions, though – the list of names of people banned from crossing is still reliant on Fatah information given to the old Mubarak regime, and the list has to be gone through one by one because many people have similar or the same names – sometimes even babies are banned. The names have to be confirmed, or cancelled, and many have been, but Egyptian security has other priorities than updating the lists.”

The events in Tahrir Square last Friday indicate that despite the lip-service paid to democracy, many are reluctant to accept the results, and subsequent decisions taken by majority governments. Does this suggest that the notion of democracy itself needs attention?

“We need to distinguish between the instruments or models of democracy, and its conceptualisation. In the Arab world we are moving from dictatorships to elected presidents, and building our own models will take time. We are not just adopting a US model, we are developing our own. It is not just how we choose our representatives, but also how we punish wrongdoers, how we reward people who succeed in doing well, the sort of administrations we create to enable public participation and to end corruption. President Mursi has achieved a lot of successes already. Sudan and Syria are much bigger problems for him right now than Palestine,” Dr Zahar said.

How do you see Egypt’s role in relation to Syria?

“ Egypt has a big role to play as the peacemaker in Syria, with the help of Iran and Turkey. I think the current situation between Turkey and Syria will finish. Turkey and Iran and Egypt are all seeking a political solution, and that will enable the Syrian regime to be replaced with a democratic administration. Recovery will take time.”

So the Rafah situation will not change quickly?

“We need to speak to the people around the President, he is surrounded by groups from the old regime who don’t understand, or don’t want to change. We need to wait.”

ends


Haniyeh thanks Qatar, pledges to liberate all of Palestine

At an event in Gaza City today to honour former ministers and departmental heads, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the Strip’s Hamas-led government was the first in the region to face the transformation from running an Islamic organisation to running a state, an authority and a people.

Dignitaries honoured at today’s event

“It was the first experiment in Islamist rule in the region, and sparked a revolutionary surge in Islamist rule,” he said, referring to the democratic election of Islamic-dominated parliaments in Egypt, Morocco and elsewhere.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

Haniyeh emphasised that the Hamas government is determined to liberate all of Palestine, not just parts of it, and is working to reconcile with Fatah to achieve this. He denied they had any plans for Gaza to be an independent entity.

Along with others addressing the gathering, such as the First Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Bahar, Haniyeh expressed praise and gratitude to Qatar for its pledge of more than $200 million for the reconstruction of infrastructure and homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead.

Bahar also turned his attention to Egypt, urging its government to open the Rafah crossing for goods as well as people.

ends