Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters since nationwide demonstrations began two months ago. (AP)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Lebanese burn ruling parties’ offices after night of clashes

  • Attacks came just hours after Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters

BEIRUT: Attackers in northern Lebanon set fire to the offices of two major political parties on Sunday, the state-run National News Agency said.
The assaults came just hours after the capital Beirut was rocked by the most violent government crackdown on protesters since nationwide demonstrations began two months ago. Lebanese security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and used water cannons throughout the night to disperse anti-government protesters from the city center — the epicenter of the protest movement in Beirut — and around parliament.
The overnight confrontations in Beirut left more than 130 people injured, according to the Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense.
In the northern Akkar district on Sunday, attackers broke the windows and torched the local office for resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s political party in the town of Kharibet Al-Jindi.
In a separate attack in Akkar district, assailants stormed the local office of the largest party in parliament, affiliated with President Michel Aoun and headed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. Their party said the contents of the office in Jedidat Al-Juma town had also been smashed and burned.
Lebanon is facing one of its worst economic crises in decades, and the protesters accuse the ruling political class in place for three decades of mismanagement and corruption.
The violence comes a day before the president is due to hold talks with different parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister on Monday.
Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan on Sunday ordered an investigation into the clashes which she said injured both protesters and security forces. She said she watched the confrontations “with concern, sadness and shock.”
Al-Hassan blamed “infiltrators” for instigating the friction and called on the demonstrators to be wary of those who want to exploit their protests for political reasons. She didn’t elaborate.
Nationwide protests began on Oct. 17, and the government headed by Hariri resigned two weeks later.
Political parties have since been bickering over the shape and form of the new Cabinet. Protesters want a technocratic government, not affiliated with established political parties.
After weeks of back and forth, Hariri has emerged as the likely candidate for the job.


UAE, Israel reach ‘historic deal’ to normalize relations

Updated 14 August 2020

UAE, Israel reach ‘historic deal’ to normalize relations

  • Abu Dhabi Crown Prince says agreement will stop the further annexation of Palestinian land
  • Donald Trump brokered the deal and hailed it as a 'huge breakthrough'

DUBAI: The UAE and Israel have reached a historic deal that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The agreement, brokered by US President Donald Trump, means Israel has suspended plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. 

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Full text of joint statement on UAE and Israel normalizing ties

World reacts to UAE's opening diplomatic ties with Israel

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A joint statement from the UAE, Israel and the US said: "This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region."

The agreement was reached after talks between Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Sheikh Mohammed said the agreement would stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory.

“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” he said. “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

Netanyahu said it was “a historic day” and that the deal would lead to a “full and formal peace” with the UAE.

“It’s an incomparably exciting moment, a historic moment for peace in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.

 

 

The deal means the UAE would become the third Arab country to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

The statement said Israel would suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in Trump’s peace plan for the region and focus on expanding ties with other Arab and Muslim countries. 

It said efforts would continue to achieve an “enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal,” the statement said.

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Delegations from Israel and the UAE would meet in the coming weeks to sign agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and telecommunications among others.

They would also discuss establishing embassies.

“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East's most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations,” the statement said.

 

 

Palestinian officials reacted angrily to the agreement, with President Mahmoud Abbas ordering the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE to return home.

“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

But other Arab countries welcomed the step.  

Egypt, which along with Jordan, already has full diplomatic relations with Israel, said the deal would halt Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said this would help bring “peace” to the Middle East.

 

 

“This historic step will contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region,” Bahrain’s government said.

Speaking in the White House, Trump said similar deals were being discussed with other countries in the region. He said a signing ceremony with delegates from either side would be held in Washington in the coming weeks.

"Everybody said this would be impossible," Trump said. "After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations. They exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the border.”

*With Agencies