PALESTINIAN Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has slammed the direct flight of an Israeli plane to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Speaking at the weekly Palestinian cabinet meeting in Ramallah, Shtayyeh stressed that the landing of an Israeli plane in Abu Dhabi violates the Arab consensus to refuse to normalise relations with Israel unless it ends its occupation of Palestine.
‘It is very painful to see today the landing of an Israeli plane in the United Arab Emirates in a clear violation of the Arab stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict,’ he said.
‘We would very much like to see a UAE flight land in Jerusalem after it is liberated. But we live in a difficult Arab era,’ he added.
The UAE and Israel decided two weeks ago to normalise relations, which the Palestinians and other Arab countries condemn as a betrayal of the Saudi-sponsored Arab Peace Initiative that bars Arab and Muslim countries from normalising relations with Israel before a Palestinian state is established.
Shtayyeh thanked those Arab states which have stood against normalisation with Israel and stuck to the Arab Peace Initiative.
He also said that a Palestinian ministerial delegation will visit the Gaza Strip on Friday to discuss its needs in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, which has started to spread at an alarming level.
According to the Ministry of Health, 99 new coronavirus cases and one death have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours.
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Palestine has called on Israel to immediately allow entry of fuel and other essential goods into the besieged Gaza Strip to avoid ‘a humanitarian catastrophe’ especially as Covid-19 has started to spread in the Strip which has no functioning power plant because of the Israeli blockade.
Meanwhile, in Lebanon, President Michel Aoun has named the current ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, as the new prime minister after he secured the support of major political parties.
A majority of lawmakers had to decide who to name as premier before Aoun could task the candidate with forming a government.
According to a tally of votes cast by lawmakers in official consultations, Adib secured a majority to be designated as the new prime minister.
He secured at least 66 votes, or more than half of the 120 MPs currently serving in the Lebanese parliament, after the Christian Free Patriotic Movement announced it had nominated him.
Lebanon’s parliament usually has 128 MPs but eight resigned following the August 4th port explosion.
A relatively unknown 48-year-old diplomat, Adib, a close aide to former premier Najib Mikati, will now form a government.
On Sunday, the Sunni Muslim political figures in Lebanon, including the Future Movement party headed by former premier Sa’ad Hariri, picked Adib to succeed Hassan Diab, who resigned as prime minister following the Beirut blast.
Under a power-sharing agreement that ended the 1975-1990 civil war in Lebanon, the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, the president a Maronite Christian and the parliament speaker a Shia Muslim.
Hariri formally announced on Monday that he had nominated Adib to the position after consultations with President Aoun.
Speaking afterwards Hariri said the new government should be formed quickly and made up of specialist ministers.
Hezbollah members of Lebanon’s parliament also nominated Adib as the next premier.
Following a meeting on with Aoun on Monday, Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc ‘informed President Aoun of its agreement to the nomination of Mustapha Adib and we expressed our readiness for positive cooperation,’ the head of its parliamentary bloc, Mohamed Ra’ad, said.
Diab’s government resigned after the devastating Beirut port explosion which killed at least 188 people and wounded thousands.
The blast came amid public anger over the ruling elite’s mismanagement of the economic crisis.
The Lebanese pound has continued to plummet against the US dollar, losing more than 60 per cent of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up.
Observers say American sanctions on Lebanon have deteriorated its already struggling economy.
The consultations come as French President Emmanuel Macron is due to return to Lebanon, after his previous visit to the country following the blast which sparked outrage among the Lebanese. France is the former colonial power in Lebanon.
Macron, whose own country witnessed months-long and nationwide anti-government protests by the Yellow Vests over economic injustice in 2018 and 2019, used a provocative colonial tone in his visit, calling for ‘political and economic reforms’ in Lebanon.
- One person has been killed and several people injured in two separate explosions in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi and its tourism hub Dubai, police and local media say.
The incidents came as the first direct flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates entered Saudi airspace before landing in Abu Dhabi, which was hit by the rare blasts shortly before the arrival of US and Israeli officials.
The Saudi move (to let Israel fly through its airspace) signals the possibility Riyadh could regularly allow these flights, shortening the route length and making them viable commercially.
It is also seen as a sign of Riyadh’s support for the Israeli-UAE normalisation deal.
The El Al plane was carrying US and Israeli officials who met with Emirati officials on Monday to further advance the accord.
On August 13, Israel and the UAE reached a deal that will lead to a full normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two sides, in an agreement apparently brokered by US President Donald Trump.
According to the accord, Israeli and UAE delegations are to hold meetings and sign bilateral agreements covering sectors including investment, tourism and direct flights and the opening of reciprocal embassies.
The US delegation, now in Abu Dhabi, is led by Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and also includes national security adviser Robert O’Brien.
The delegation is on a trip to the region to push for Arab-Israeli rapprochement.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said Kushner and his team were ‘scrambling to convince as many Arab and Muslim leaders as possible’ to give Trump a boost before his re-election bid in November.
‘They will be a prop at the backdrop of a meaningless spectacle for a ridiculous agreement that will not bring peace to the region,’ she added.
The normalisation deal has sparked anger in the Middle East and elsewhere, with Palestinian leaders describing it as a ‘stab in the back’by an Arab country – the UAE.
But shortly before the arrival of the US and Israeli officials on Monday, a blast hit American fast-food restaurants KFC and Hardees on Abu Dhabi’s Rashid bin Saeed Street, also known as the airport road, where the American-Israeli delegation was to pass.
Police said the blast caused several minor and moderate injuries. According to the National newspaper, other retail outlets were also damaged in the explosion.
Then a separate explosion rocked the UAE’s tourism hub, Dubai, killing one person and leaving several others injured.
Local media reported that a gas cylinder went off in a Dubai restaurant early on Monday killing one person.
The explosion caused a fire that damaged the ground floor of the building, the newspaper quoted a Dubai Civil Defence spokesperson as saying. The blaze was extinguished in 33 minutes.