New Tunisia protests over unemployment

Nearly a decade after the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the government has yet to resolve regional inequalities. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

New Tunisia protests over unemployment

  • “Either we get a better life or we all die,” demonstrators, including women, could be heard shouting, according to the reports
  • Nearly a decade after the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the government has yet to resolve regional inequalities

TUNIS: Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated in the south of the country on Saturday against unemployment and the death of a young man they say was killed by soldiers earlier this week.
Protesters in the town of Remada demanded that President Kais Saied visit their region to discuss their living conditions, witnesses told AFP and videos published online showed.
“Either we get a better life or we all die,” demonstrators, including women, could be heard shouting, according to the reports.
“We want to see President Kais Saied. We voted for him and he must come here to Remada to hear us out and see how our children are being killed,” a woman seen in one video said.
On Tuesday night, a young man suspected of being a smuggler was killed during a police operation in the town, which is close to the border with conflict-riddled Libya.
The defense ministry has opened an investigation to determine if he died when soldiers opened fire on four vehicles transporting smuggled goods from Libya.
Southern Tunisia is one of the country’s most marginalized regions, with above-average unemployment, failing infrastructure and a stunted private sector.
Nearly a decade after the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the government has yet to resolve regional inequalities.
In recent weeks, protests have also rocked the southern town of Tataouine, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Remada, with demonstrators demanding the government honor a 2017 pledge to invest millions to develop the region and provide jobs to thousands.
Protesters in Tataouine have blocked roads and sought to prevent trucks from accessing the remote El-Kamour pumping station in the desert outside the town.
“The situation in the south of Tunisia is unacceptable,” Saied said in a video published Thursday on the presidency’s official Facebook page.
Saied, who had focused on Tunisia’s disenfranchised youth during his 2019 election campaign, said protests were “legitimate” as long as they respected the law.


Palestinian politicians voice dismay over ‘historic agreement’

Updated 43 min 1 sec ago

Palestinian politicians voice dismay over ‘historic agreement’

  • This agreement is a betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause, complains Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
  • A widespread Palestinian fear is that the UAE-Israel agreement could weaken the Arab Peace Initiative

AMMAN: Palestinian politicians have reacted with dismay to the US-brokered agreement that will postpone the annexation of the West Bank while the UAE and Israel establish full diplomatic relations.

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

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an urgent meeting of the Arab League after Thursday’s joint announcement by the UAE, Israel and the US.

“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the surprising UAE-Israeli-US trilateral announcement,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior adviser to Abbas, reading from a statement outside the president’s headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Abu Rudeineh described the agreement as a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.”

Tel Aviv City Hall is lit up with the flags of the UAE and Israel as the countries announced they would be establishing full diplomatic ties on Thursday. (AP)

If implemented formally, the deal will pave the way for the UAE to become the third Arab country to have official relations with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo accords in 1993 and 1995. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, while Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords in 1978.

A widespread Palestinian fear is that the UAE-Israel agreement could weaken the Arab Peace Initiative, brokered by then Crown Prince (later King) Abdullah in 2002, which called for full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land in return for full normalization with Israel.

Jamal Dajani, a former spokesman for the Palestinian prime minister, said Palestinians feel betrayed by the UAE, whose move at this critical time undermines their struggle for independence.

“Israel’s so-called plan of annexation is illegal and a non-starter. Netanyahu knew this, so did Trump,” Dajani told Arab News.

“President Trump said that the ‘ice has been broken,’ but in fact trust has been lost.”

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Mustafa Barghouti, head of Al-Mubadara (the Initiative), an independent Palestinian political party, issued a statement calling the UAE action a “stab in the back of Palestinians.”

He said the deal endorses Israel’s decision to suspend rather than cancel the planned annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

Hamadeh Faraneh, an Amman-based member of Palestine National Council, said the decision is neither historic nor surprising because it has been known for some time that Israel and the UAE have been in regular contact.


ALSO READ: Full text of joint statement on UAE and Israel normalizing ties


He said the decision is at odds with the Arab Peace Initiative and “amounts to a reversal of the order of things.”

“Instead of the end of occupation preceding normalization, we have now normalization without any idea if there will be an end to the occupation,” he told Arab News.

The joint statement by the UAE, Israel and the US said: “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.”

However, Aaron David Miller, a former US peace envoy to the Middle East and a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, described the agreement as a “historic decision” that represents three wins and one loss.”

According to Miller, it is a win for the leaders of Israel, the UAE and the US, but a loss for Palestinians.

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Twitter: @daoudkuttab

 

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