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News - Egypt News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 07:14:13
Egypt presented a proposed cease-fire to Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the month-long war, Palestinian officials said early Wednesday after negotiators huddled for a second day of Egyptian-mediated talks meant to resolve the crisis and bring relief to the embattled Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials told The Associated Press early Wednesday morning that Egypt's proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing some relief to the territory. But it leaves the key areas of disagreement, including the Islamic militant group Hamas' demand for a full lifting of the blockade and Israeli calls for Hamas to disarm, to later negotiations. If the sides accept the proposal it would have a significant impact on Palestinians in Gaza as it would improve the movement of individuals and merchandise to the West Bank, the officials said. Gaza exports and other businesses have been hit hard by restrictions imposed on the territory by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. One of the Palestinian officials who spoke to AP said that according to the Egyptian proposal the blockade would be gradually eased. He said it would stipulate that Israel would end airstrikes on militants, and a 500-meter (547-yard) buffer zone next to the Gaza and Israel frontier would be reduced over time, he said. The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams retired after 10 hours of discussions and will resume the talks later Wednesday, about 12 hours before the current cease-fire is set to expire at midnight, the officials said. It was not immediately clear if either side would accept the deal. The Palestinian officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the negotiations with the media. The negotiations took place after a three-day truce brokered by Egypt took effect Monday. A similar truce collapsed last Friday after Gaza militants quickly resumed rocket fire with its expiration. The monthlong Gaza war has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, Palestinian and U.N. officials say. In Israel, 67 people have been killed, all but three of them soldiers. Hamas is demanding an end to an Israel-Egyptian blockade that has ravaged Gaza's economy. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep Hamas, which fired thousands of rockets into Israel during the war, from smuggling weapons. Israel is seeking guarantees that it disarm. With the truce set to expire, Egypt pressed the sides hard to reach a deal. "The talks are difficult but serious," Moussa Abu Marzouk, head of the Hamas delegation, wrote on his Facebook page. "The delegation needs to achieve the hopes of the people." Hamas, shunned by the international community as a terrorist organization, seized control of Gaza from internationally backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Any deal will almost certainly include an increased role by Abbas. The Palestinian leader recently formed a unity government backed by Hamas, ostensibly putting him in charge of Gaza. But in reality, Hamas, with its thousands of fighters and arsenal of rockets, remains the real power. Another member of the Palestinian delegation reported some progress, saying Israel had offered a number of gestures aimed at improving life for Gaza's 1.8 million residents. They included an increase in the number of trucks permitted to deliver goods into the territory from Israel each day, and the transfer of funds by Abbas' Palestinian Authority to Hamas-affiliated government employees in Gaza. The cash-strapped Hamas has been unable to pay the salaries of its employees for months. Also included in the purported Israeli package, the official said, was an eventual quadrupling — to 12 miles (19 kilometers) — of the sea area in which Gaza fishing vessels are permitted to operate. But the official said Israel was linking progress on the Palestinians' biggest demands — to reopen the territory's sea and airport — to Hamas disarming. The group has rejected this demand. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing ongoing negotiations. Palestinian officials said they were open to extending the talks if progress was being made. Israeli officials declined comment on the negotiations. But in a possible sign of progress, the Ynet website said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been speaking to senior Cabinet ministers about an emerging agreement. It said the deal would include a softening of the blockade to allow the entry of construction materials for rebuilding Gaza under strict international supervision. Israel has limited the flow of goods like concrete and metal, saying Hamas would use them for military use. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he did not know if there would be a deal by Wednesday night's deadline, and warned that fighting could resume. "I don't know if we should extend negotiations. It could be that fire erupts again," he said. "We must be on alert and ready all the time." The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva this week formed a commission to look into possible war crimes violations during the Gaza fighting. Israel has not said whether it will cooperate with the investigation. But the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it believes the commission, and its chief investigator, Canadian law professor William Schabas, are biased against Israel. In a television interview, Schabas said he wouldn't let his history of criticizing Israeli leaders affect his ability to carry out the investigation. "What someone who sits in a commission or who is a judge has to be able to do is put these things behind them and start fresh and this is what I intend to do," he told Israel's Channel 2 TV. He would not say whether he would investigate Hamas' actions. Israel's Foreign Ministry called the commission a "kangaroo court" whose verdict is "known ahead of time." Meanwhile, the world's largest bloc of Islamic nations called for an international donors conference for Gaza. The 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation also expressed its disappointment at the failure of the U.N. Security Council "to assume its responsibilities" of maintaining peace and security. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal said his country would work with other donors to finance $500 million for the reconstruction of houses and facilities in Gaza. He did not elaborate. Officials have said at least $6 billion is needed. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 07:07:56
Egypt and the countries of the Customs Union are looking into creating a free trade zone, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Black Sea city of Sochi. "An important agreement was reached to establish cooperation between Egypt and the Customs Union [of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan]," said the Russian President. "And now we are looking at a possibility of creating a free trade zone." He noted that this subject had been discussed at a meeting of the council of the Common Economic Space on July 7. The two presidents also agreed upon the creation of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, which will be part of a new Suez Canal project. "Our talks have opened great prospects in this area. I hope that the creation of the Russian industrial zone in Egypt will become a component that will supplement the new Suez Canal project, which Egypt presented last week," Sisi said. Egypt launched a Suez Canal development project worth $4 billion earlier in August. The project envisages digging a new canal parallel to the original built 145 years ago with the aim of speeding up traffic along the existing waterway and boosting the country's economy. Egypt to boost food exports to Russia Amid Moscow’s full ban of EU, US, Australian, Canadian, and Norwegian food exports to Russia, Egypt said it is ready to boost agricultural deliveries to Russia by 30 percent, Putin said. Moscow imposed sanctions on August 7 for one year in response to Western restrictions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. An increase of deliveries of citrus fruits, potatoes and onions from Egypt by 30 percent will close half of a possible deficit following Moscow’s ban on the import from some Western countries, said the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Fedorov as cited by RIA Novosti. During last year, Egypt’s deliveries of agricultural products to Russia amounted $440 million, meanwhile during the first half of this year, they have already supplied $460 million, said Fedorov. He added that the two leaders also agreed to simplify Egypt's exports of goods to the Russian market, 90 percent of which account for agricultural products. Trade turnover between the two countries in 2013 amounted to $3 billion and more than doubled in the first half of this year to $2.5 billion from $1.2 billion in the same period of last year, according to ITAR-TASS estimates. Egypt buys 25-30 percent of Russia's wheat intended for export, while Russian wheat accounts for about 40 percent of grain consumed by Egypt. Among other bilateral economic spheres Moscow and Cairo are engaged in energy, automobile manufacturing and transport cooperation, also developing the intergovernmental trade, economic and scientific-technical cooperation commission. Sisi's first visit to Sochi was the first to a foreign, non-Arab-African state since he was sworn in as president on June 8. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 07:03:20
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived early on Tuesday in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi for a brief visit upon an invitation by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, state news agency MENA reported. This is Al-Sisi's first visit to a foreign, non-Arab/African state since he was sworn in as president on 8 June after a landslide electoral victory. In a press conference following their meeting, both leaders announced their plans for enhancing bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, investment and energy. For his part, Al-Sisi revealed that they discussed the establishment of an industrial zone in Egypt as part of the recently announced project to develop the Suez Canal. Al-Sisi added that there is another plan of "renewing and developing" giant projects established by the former Soviet Union. Both leaders spoke of the latest developments in the Arab world, including truce efforts in the embattled Gaza Strip and growing violence in Syria, Libya and Iraq. According to AFP, Moscow's Vedemosti business daily reported that Russia and Egypt are now nearing a $3 billion (2.2 billion euro) weapons agreement that will be financed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Al-Sisi paid a visit to Moscow in February when he was still Egypt's army chief, during which he negotiated an arms deal amid strained relations with Washington, which had held off parts of its annual assistance to Cairo following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and a harsh crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement. During the visit, Putin gave Al-Sisi his backing to be elected as the country's president. Reuters also reported on Tuesday that an agreement has been reached to increase Egypt's supply of agricultural goods to Russia by 30 percent, while Putin announced that his country will provide Egypt with 5 to 5.5 million tonnes of wheat. The Russian leader also reportedly said that a free trade zone is being discussed. According to a statement published by the Russian presidency, Putin welcomed Al-Sisi and affirmed that his visit stresses "the special nature" of the relation between the two countries. "I am especially pleased to note that your visit to this country is practically your first trip outside the Arab world after your election to the post of president," Putin was quoted as saying. According to the Russian statement, Al-Sisi also pointed out that this is the first invitation he has received from a leader outside the Arab world. "I would like to stress that the entire Egyptian people are following my visit to the Russian Federation and are expecting a lot of cooperation between our countries. Therefore, I believe we will meet the expectations of the Egyptian people," added Al-Sisi. Egypt had strong ties with Russia in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt until the early 1970s. Relations soured after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty bringing in some $1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Cairo in 1979. Russia provides Egypt's tourism industry, significantly hammered by three years of political turmoil since the 2011 uprising, with over 40 percent of European tourists. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 06:27:12
Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons are to defend themselves in court on Wednesday for the first time in the retrial of the former strongman on graft charges and the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that swept him from power. The ex-president has been detained for almost two years since shortly after his overthrow until he was granted release last August and placed under house arrest at a military hospital in the south Cairo suburb of Maadi. The hospital where the veteran strongman is being held said in a letter to the court dated Sunday that the ageing leader's health is almost stable and that he can be transferred for the hearing in a make-shift courtroom at a Cairo police academy that once carried his name, state news agency MENA reported. The 85-year-old, however, is due to speak to the bench from inside an enclosed dock after one of his jailed sons made a plea on Monday to the presiding judge over the difficulty in moving his frail father to a podium due to him recently undergoing a femur operation. Mubarak is being retried, alongside his interior minister and six of his top aides, for complicity in the killing of around 850 demonstrators during the 18-day popular revolt in 2011 that ended his 30-year reign. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 06:15:16
Nine alleged militants were killed by Egyptian army troops in North Sinai, announced army spokesman Mohamed Samir on Tuesday. According to a statement issued by Samir, another 15 wanted persons have also been arrested. Egypt's army is countering an insurgency based in the North Sinai governorate that has so far led to the deaths of hundreds of police and army personnel. A surge in the violence occurred after the bloody dispersal of a sit-in in support of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013, moving militant activity to Egypt's capital Cairo and the Nile Delta, as well as Upper Egypt. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 06:15:14
During a meeting with former Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Al-Sanioura, Egypt's Grand Mufti, Shawqi Allam, refused to call the Jihadist group in Iraq as the Islamic State. Allam stated that the group does not represent Islamic values ​​or law, state news agency MENA reported. Allam met on Tuesday with Al-Sanioura to discuss the criminal acts of the previously known Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) – also known as Daesh – against Iraqi Christians and others. Allam also highlighted that their crimes are a shame to Islam and Muslims, and that regional and international cooperation is needed to fight such groups. In mid-July, thousands of Christians in Mosul fled after the Islamic State gave them an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay jizya (protection money), leave or risk death. The exodus raised concern throughout the international community, and neighbouring countries began to accept the fleeing Christians as refugees. Mosul has been under insurgent control since June, but there have been hit and run attacks by government forces and allied Kurdish peshmerga fighters. Inl Baghdad on Wednesday, car bombs exploded in crowded markets in Shi'ite Muslim districts, killing at least 10 people, police said. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 06:07:38
Judges at Cairo Criminal Court on Tuesday declined to preside over the trial of 494 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, citing "unease." The 494 are accused of involvement in the violence between pro-Morsi protesters and security forces last August at the Fath Mosque in Cairo’s Ramsis district. The judge, Mahmoud Kamel El-Rashidi, is currently presiding over the murder trial of former president Hosni Mubarak. The Ramsis clashes left 210 dead, mostly Morsi supporters. The accused face charges of committing violence, killing, assaulting security forces and torching buildings. Thousands of Morsi loyalists have been arrested on similar charges since last August when the two main sit-ins supporting the Islamist president were dispersed. Clashes that followed the ouster of Morsi last July left hundreds of supporters of the ousted president dead. Meanwhile, Islamic militants have stepped up attacks against security forces leaving over 500 officers killed over the past year. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-13 06:04:57
The most infamous criminal in Upper Egypt has been sentenced to life in prison on charges of armed robbery. The verdict by Aswan criminal court is the latest against Yasser Abdel-Qadder, also known as "Hambolli" and "Khot El-Saied." He was sentenced in other cases to a total of 240 years in jail, as well as two life sentences. Hambolli was also sentenced to death in one of the cases against him. He was rearrested late last February after fleeing prison in the southern city of Qena during the unrest that followed the toppling of Hosni Muabark in 2011. Hambolli returned to his criminal life, committing crimes of kidnapping, murder and robbery till he was rearrested. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-12 13:45:52
The Egyptian government says it barred entry of Human Rights Watch members because the organisation did not follow proper regulations and perceived itself as an 'entity above the law'. Egyptian authorities had barred on Monday the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth and Middle East and North Africa director, Sarah Leah Whitson from entering Egypt at the Cairo International Airport on account of not having a "legal basis' for entry. The New York based human rights watchdog organization was planning to hold a press conference in Cairo to publish its final report about the dispersal of sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares last August, which it described as ‘an action that amounts to crimes against humanity’. The statement, released on the ministry's official Facebook account, said HRW had previously withdrawn their request to obtain a work license in Egypt as a foreign NGO, which is required by the Egyptian law. The statement also recounted that HRW requested to arrange a meeting with Egyptian officials in August regarding the release of their report on the dispersal. The Egyptian officials postponed the meeting to September, saying that they are still keen to cooperate with HRW but to also wanted to 'maintain the state’s sovereign rights', the statement added. Egyptian officials, according to the statement, emphasised to HRW the necessity of obtaining an entry visa from Egyptian consulates abroad and that they cannot enter the country using a tourism via, as it is contradictory to the reasons, already stated by HRW, for their visit. "This is consistent with the approach pursued by the organization, as it perceives itself as an entity above the law and not subject to its provisions," the interior ministry's statement read. Meanwhile, The US State Department slammed the decision of the Egyptian authorities, describing the actions as 'disappointing'. "It is critical for civil society organizations, both Egyptian and international, to be able to work freely in Egypt. We are disappointed that these individuals were not allowed to do so" said Marie Herf, the deputy spokesperson of the State Department in the daily press briefing in Washington on Monday. "As we have repeatedly said, we continue to have serious concerns regarding the events of last August and encourage the Egyptian government to conduct transparent investigations." Herf added. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-08-12 13:05:42
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi arrived early on Tuesday in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi to start a brief visit upon an invitation by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, state news agency MENA reported. This is Al-Sisi's first visit to a foreign, non-Arab/African state since he was sworn in as president on 8 June after winning a crushing election victory. During Al-Sisi's two-day visit, both leaders are due to tackle mutual ties and the latest developments in the Middle East, including truce efforts in the embattled Gaza Strip and the growing violence in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Al-Sisi paid a visit to Moscow in February when he was still Egypt's army chief, during which he negotiated an arms deal amid strained relations with Washington, which had held off parts of its annual assistance to Cairo following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and a harsh crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement. During his visit, Putin gave Al-Sisi his backing to be elected as the country's president. Egypt had strong ties with Russia in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt until the early 1970s. Relations soured after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty bringing in some $1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Cairo in 1979. Russia provides Egypt's tourism industry, significantly hammered by three years of political turmoil since the 2011 uprising, with over 40% of European tourists. Al-Sisi held a mini-summit in Saudi Arabia late on Sunday where he discussed with Saudi King Abdullah developments in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Libya, in the retired field marshal's first visit to Cairo's powerful regional ally since he was elected president. More»