Japanese Foreign Minister Visits Al-Quds University!

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JAPANESE Foreign Minister Taro Kono pledged during a visit to Al-Quds University on Wednesday to work to strengthen the working relationship between the Palestinian university and the government of Japan.

‘Honoured and happy’ to be at Al-Quds University, Taro told the president of Al-Quds University Imad Abu Kishek. He said he was deeply grateful to the efficient utilisation of funds and thanked Al-Quds University for its ‘able management’.

Japan has been contributing financial and technical support to Al-Quds University since the establishment of its Medical Complex. In 1998, it provided the Medical Complex with equipment.

The government of Japan also provided assistance in 2002 at the height of the second Palestinian uprising (Intifada) in which the Japanese Foreign Minister said Al-Quds University ‘managed to use this assistance effectively despite the difficult circumstances.’ Currently, renovations are underway for the Medical Complex.

‘Al-Quds University represents a positive example of the assistance that the government of Japan extends to the Palestinian people, and we thank you for using it effectively,’ said Taro following his meeting with the president of Al-Quds University. He also said the Japanese government will provide more assistance and hopes it will be used in the ‘same effective way’.

‘We remain committed to supporting the Palestinian people. Our support of Al-Quds University is an example of this commitment, and we shall remain committed to helping the University,’ said the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister.’

Abu Kishek extended his deepest appreciation to the visiting minister, the accompanying Japanese delegation and the government of Japan for ‘standing with the people of Palestine’. He told Taro that Japan’s contribution has allowed Al-Quds University Medical Complex to ‘play a pivotal role in the improvement of the quality of health care in the occupied territories, which has for long been underserved and neglected’.

‘We cannot properly express what your being here means to us. We are Honoured to know that Al-Quds University has you as a friend. This is a sign of the strong strategic relationship between Al-Quds University and the government of Japan, one that continues to flourish,’ said Abu Kishek.

• Guatemalans reacted with anger and concern over their president’s decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following suit as a result of a similar United State move, the Department of Expatriate Affairs, a branch of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), reported on Wednesday.

It said several major media outlets in Guatemala have begun to focus on the angry reactions to the decision of President Jimmy Morales to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which entails recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in spite of the fact that 129 countries have voted in the United Nations General Assembly against the earlier US move and considered it a violation of international law.

Guatemala was one of nine members who voted against the UN resolution. The Department of Expatriates Affairs said it heard from members of the Palestinian community in Guatemala and other organisations that following the decision by Morales concern was expressed among political, economic and media circles regarding the consequences of such a move on the county’s economy.

Guatemala is the main exporter of cardamom pods that are used with coffee to Arab and Islamic countries with more than $300 million dollars of exports a year. When former President Ramiro J Leon Carpio (1993-1996) made a similar decision to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he was forced to quickly rescind that decision when Arab and Islamic countries closed their doors to the Guatemalan market.

Former vice president of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein (2004-2008), warned of the negative consequences of the decision by Morales, who is facing impeachment on corruption charges. He said in a statement published in various media that this decision will have great economic implications for Guatemalan society and will affect more than 45,000 small-scale cardamom farmers, thus affecting the country’s economy and hurting more than 400,000 Guatemalan citizens assuming that every small-scale farmer employs 10 workers.

The president of the Union of Guatemalan Exporters also warned in an urgent letter to the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the consequences of this move on the local economy, particularly since the Islamic and Arab countries are one of the largest markets importing cardamom pods from Guatemala, and therefore any potential boycott by these countries and the closure of their markets for Guatemalan products will result in major economic shocks that will directly affect hundreds of thousands of families in Guatemala.

The Department of Expatriates called upon the Arab League to seriously consider imposing an economic boycott on any country that recognises Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel or move its embassy to it. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has openly called in its recent summit held in Turkey on member states to resort to economic boycott as an effective measure against any state that recognises occupied Arab Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

• Raids by Israeli police and staff from the West Jerusalem Israeli municipality in Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as demolition of structures in the area occupied the main front page story in the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Wednesday.

Al-Quds described the campaign against Silwan as ‘the largest in years’. It said 100 Palestinian residents of Silwan are going to Israeli courts to prevent their eviction from their homes for the benefit of extremist Jewish settlers. Al-Ayyam said occupation authorities demolished two structures in Silwan, detained people, raided shops and notified of home demolitions.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida had a similar headline to al-Ayyam but expanded its story to include army crackdowns on protests in Hebron in the southern West Bank where four people were injured by live bullets and on the northern entrance to Ramallah. The papers also said President Mahmoud Abbas called the father of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah who was imprisoned for standing up to Israeli soldiers in her village. Abbas inquired about Tamimi and expressed support for her.

Al-Ayyam quoted PLO Executive Committee member, Ahmad Majdalani, saying that attempts to overthrow the Palestinian leadership are bound to fail just as previous attempts have failed. Majdalani said the ultimate deal the US administration has been talking about for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has to do with a regional peace deal with Israel, in which the Palestinians would get an entity less than a state and more than autonomy with security remaining in Israeli hands.

Al-Ayyam also quoted Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warning of consequences due to the slow movement of the intra-Palestinian reconciliation. The movement’s Gaza leader Yehya Sinwar also stressed that Hamas has no intention of going back on reconciliation or to see it fail.

Al-Quds, also reporting on Haniyeh and Sinwar, said they talked about plots to liquidate the Palestinian cause. On settlement activities, al-Quds quoted the settlements expert Khalil Toufaqji saying that Israel is considering building an airport and an industrial area near Jericho.