Tag Archives: Egypt

EU welcomes Israel-Palestine ceasefire

Brussels 21.05.2021 Israel/Palestine: Statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell on the ceasefire:

The European Union welcomes the announced ceasefire bringing to an end the violence in and around Gaza. We commend Egypt, Qatar, United Nations, United States and others who have played a facilitating role in this.

We are appalled and regret the loss of life over these past 11 days. As the EU has consistently reiterated, the situation in the Gaza Strip has long been unsustainable. Only a political solution will bring sustainable peace and end once for all the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Restoring a political horizon towards a two-state solution now remains of utmost importance. The EU is ready to fully support Israeli and Palestinian authorities in these efforts.

The EU is renewing its engagement with key international partners, including the United States, and other partners in the region, as well as with the revitalised Middle East Quartet, to this end”.

The ceasefire began early on Friday, bringing to an end 11 days of fighting in which more than 250 people were killed, most of them in Gaza.

Palestinians poured on to the streets of Gaza soon after the truce began, while a Hamas official warned the group had not let down its guard.

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory in the conflict.

US President Joe Biden said the ceasefire brought a “genuine opportunity” for progress.

Soon after it started at 02:00 on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday), large numbers of Palestinians took to the streets in cars and on foot to celebrate. In Gaza, drivers honked their horns, while loudspeakers from mosques pronounced “the victory of the resistance”.

Israel’s military said it was removing nearly all emergency restrictions on movement throughout the country.

Tourist bus blast in Egypt

A tourist bus explosion in near site of Giza Pyramids in Egypt reported by a number of leading news agencies. According to reports there are dead and wounded. There are pictures claimed to be from the scene of the explosion.

Details to follow.

AMENDED: Two dead and 14 wounded reported by local media.

AMENDED: officials qualify the blast as a terrorist attack, highly likely perpetrated by militants of Islamic State (ISIS). However no terrorist group claimed the attack so far.

AMDENDED:  The bus was carrying 12 Vietnamese tourists when an homemade device placed near a wall along the Mariyutiya street, near the Giza Pyramids, went off. 2 people died, 10 were injured as well as the bus driver and the tour guide, both Egyptian.

Giza explosion

Kurz regards Egypt as key partner in defeating human trafficking

Salzburg – After the Salzburg summit, the EU intends to deepen its migration cooperation with Egypt and other African countries. President of the European Council Donald Tusk said there was agreement to hold a summit with the Arab League in Egypt in February. On Thursday, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) described Egypt as exemplary in the fight against illegal migration and smuggling.

Kurz added that it was also the EU’s wish to have a dialogue with Egypt on economic development. Tusk also said that – in the end – the intention was to have “a broader partnership”. He planned to advance those ideas as early as this Sunday at a meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New York.

According to Sebastian Kurz, Egypt was not in favour of refugee centres. The country was, however, “very efficient in its fight against illegal migration”. In the past two years, no more refugee ships from Egypt had reached Europe. The Federal Chancellor also regarded the “disembarkation platforms” for migrants, decided by the EU last June and rejected by Egypt, as not necessary. The decisive point in this issue was to make sure that as few people as possible set out illegally from Northern Africa to Europe.

Sebastian Kurz continued by saying that nowadays hardly any rescue operations took place in the EU coastal area, with the operations happening close to the African coast. The legal obligation to bring people to Europe only arose once those people entered European coastal waters. He supported Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, in his criticism of the current practice of rescuing refugees. “Nobody can say that this policy has saved lives”, Chancellor Kurz declared. “A new system is needed”, which could be initiated by strong partners in Africa. Three years ago one would have been denounced as right-wing or a right-wing radical for uttering such ideas, said Sebastian Kurz.

Blast in Egypt mosque causes death and devastation

An explosion has struck a mosque in Egypt’s northern Sinai, injuring and killing people, according to local media.

Egyptian state media MENA, citing an official security source, said that at least 54 people were killed and at least 75 injured.

The blast occurred in the al-Rawda village, west of el-Arish, shortly after Friday prayers.

News reports said that after the explosion, gunmen in four off-road vehicles opened fire on worshipers.

Local media also reported the closure of the Arish-Rafah road, further east.

The attack comes a day before the Rafah border crossing, the main gateway for Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip to the outside world, was due to open for a three-day period.

The border was briefly open earlier this week.

Abbas welcomes Hamas reconciliation move

Hamas has agreed to dissolve the administration running Gaza, it said, a major step towards handing control of the enclave to a Palestinian unity government after a decade of bitter rivalry with President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Islamist group, which has ruled Gaza since a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007, said it had taken “a courageous, serious and patriotic decision to dissolve the administrative committee” that runs the territory of 2 million people, and hand power to some form of unity government.

Abbas welcomed Hamas’ move – a result of talks mediated by Egypt – and said he would convene the Palestinian leadership for discussions upon his return from New York where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly.

The development would “enable the formation of a national reconciliation government to work in the Gaza Strip and hold … elections,” he said in a statement on official news agency WAFA.

Qatar defines boycott as illegal

Four Arab states declared a boycott on Qatar, and issued an ultimatum to Doha with a demand to shut down Al Jazeera television channel, curb ties with Iran, close a Turkish base and pay reparations.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sent a 13-point list of demands openly aimed on tempering Qatar’s active foreign policy. Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute.

Doha was reviewing the list of demands and that a formal response would be made by the foreign ministry and delivered to Kuwait, but added that the demands were not reasonable or actionable, according to a Qatari government spokesman.

“This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning – the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy,” Sheikh Saif al-Thani director of Qatar’s government communications office, said in issued statement.

Qatar in diplomatic isolation

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.

The coordinated move escalates a dispute over Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha suppports the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.

Egypt: three-months emergency

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is to declare a three-month state of emergency after Isis attacks on two Coptic churches kills at least 43.

Twin bombings during packed services at churches in the cities of Alexandria and Tanta came as worshippers were celebrating Palm Sunday – the start of one of the most holy weeks in the Christian calendar.

EU condolences to Egypt

“In one of the Holiest days for the Christians all over the world, the Coptic churches in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria have been attacked. Many innocent civilians have been killed or injured,” – says the statement of the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini.

‘The European Union expresses its sincere condolences to the friends and families of the victims. Our thoughts are with them.”

‘Those responsible for the attacks must be held accountable. Worshippers, no matter what their belief is, should always be free to pray in peace.”

‘The European Union stands in solidarity with the Egyptian government and people in the fight against terrorism.”

Foreign affairs Council agenda

BELGIUM-EU-FOREIGN-AFFAIRS-MIGRANTS

The Foreign affairs Council will start with a joint session of defence and foreign affairs ministers on security and defence. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions assessing progress achieved since the European Council of 15 December 2016.

The conclusions will form the basis of a report for the European Council on 9-10 March 2017. Ahead of the meeting, the High Representative Federica Mogherini will hold a working breakfast with defence ministers to allow a strategic outlook of EU engagement in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

The Council will have a discussion on migration. Ministers will take stock of the Malta Summit and the Valletta Senior Officials Meeting of February 2017, ahead of the upcoming reporting on the Migration Partnership Framework at the March European Council.

EU ministers will discuss political developments and economic reforms in Egypt, as well as the country’s role in the region, with Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry.

The situation in the Western Balkans will be reviewed by the Council. The High Representative will debrief ministers on her visit in the region planned for 1-4 March. This discussion will feed into the preparations of the European Council on 9-10 March 2017.

The Council will examine the Middle East peace process to take stock of recent developments and contacts, including with the new US administration.

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