By Abdel Bari Atwan
The presence of Tony Blair at negotiations over a Gaza ceasefire in Cairo this week was not a good sign. The so-called ‘Peace Envoy’ spent four hours in meetings with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry and Arab League General Secretary, Nabil al-Arabi. Later, Israeli newspapers leaked reports of a British/French/German proposal which would see funding for reconstruction in the devastated Strip linked to disarmament of the resistance.
Tony Blair imagines that the situation in Palestine is comparable to that in Northern Ireland when he was British Prime Minister. As part of that peace deal, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) agreed to disarm and billions of dollars was provided by the international community for reconstruction and job creation. The two opposing sides – the Catholics and the Protestants engaged in the political process and have largely managed to resolve their ongoing differences peacefully through debate and consensus.
Palestine is not Northern Ireland, there are differences in the nature of the conflict and its roots, too many to mention here. In addition, this is the Middle East, where Blair’s track record is truly worrying. He has overseen the destruction of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, and has routinely failed to make even one millimetre’s progress in the peace process in his role as ‘Peace Envoy’. I believe he now wants to turn the Gaza Strip into a second rate version of the West Bank and engineer an economic peace (no resistance in exchange for jobs and goods) so that the Israelis can continue their consumption of Palestinian land.
Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, has made his stance plain. He said he would not allow a third intifada and considers security coordination with the Israelis sacred; he has endorsed the plan to disarm the resistance, and the conversion of its factions into political parties. He would like to see the whole of Gaza cowed and beaten into submission to its enemies.
Israel provoked this war, and has wantonly murdered the citizens of Gaza and destroyed their homes and livelihoods. Israel has tried to blast the resistance to the point of surrender and abandoning its armed struggle. But the sons of Gaza and their leaders are neither naive nor short-sighted, or so we hope.
The Palestinian people have not been defeated in this war, despite the great sacrifices they have made. The Cairo meeting plans to offer Gaza reconstruction funding yet Israel claims it has only been destroying missiles, tunnels, and arms workshops ? What will Abbas and Blair et al do with resistance leaders such as Ismail Haniyeh, and Mahmoud al-Zahar and Khalil al-Hayya and Ramadan Shallah and Ziad bran and all other symbols of resistance? Will the resistance suddenly settle for shops, will fighters fling away their guns to make a few dollars as ‘entrepreneurs’ when they are committed with their hearts and souls to liberate Palestine from the sea to the river?
A delegation of Arab foreign ministers headed by Mr. Nabil al-Arabi intends to to go to Gaza. Like foreign tourists, they’ll take ‘selfies’ and allow the press to photograph them in front of destroyed houses. Then they’ll sign million dollar contracts for the reconstruction of what destroyed by Israel.
Palestinian resistance leaders have confirmed that they will never give up their weapons, neither partially nor totally, but we fear that Arab governments in collusion with the West will step up the pressure on them, that they will tempt them to with massive cheques and false promises to accept the European settlement to be presented by Blair and the envoys of France and Germany.
We are well aware that the resistance faces incredibly difficult circumstances, and that the people of Gaza want to live in peace and dignity, but all the Gulf billions in the world would not equal a Qassam rocket hitting its target and striking panic and terror in the hearts of the settlers.
Mothers did not see their sons becoming martyrs to transform Gaza into some sort of Singapore. Palestine is not a sector, nor is it Gaza nor the West Bank, Palestine is all our land, from the river to the sea.as.
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Every year, 20 Jordanian women are killed because of “family honor.” In 2011, societal pressure forced Jordan’s parliament to backtrack on amending Article 76 of the temporary penal code whereby “the use of mitigating reasons for assault crimes” would have been abolished. This article protects the perpetrators of honor crimes who often benefit from mitigating reasons and avoid receiving a deterring punishment.
A 2011 study titled “Cultural and Legal Discrimination Against Jordanian Girls” polled the country’s main population centers (the capital Amman, Zarqa, Irbid, Mafraq, Aqaba and Karak) and found that 80.9% of parents believe that protecting the female equates to protecting the family’s honor. Among those polled, 55% believed that a woman should be accompanied by her brother when she is outside the house; 66% are opposed to women having the same rights as a men of the same age with regard to being unaccompanied outside the house; 49% are opposed to a female child playing outside the house; and 29% say that all women should get married regardless of their education. According to the study, 29% of those polled said their convictions emanate from traditions, 25.1% said their convictions emanate from personal attitudes, 16% attributed their convictions to societal factors and 15.5% to religion.
Kingdom fourth best Arab country for women — survey
LONDON — Jordan is the fourth best country in the Arab world to be a woman, a poll of gender experts showed on Tuesday.
The Kingdom scored 58.218 points, ahead of Qatar, Tunisia and Algeria.
Comoros, where women hold 20 per cent of ministerial positions and where wives generally keep land or the home after divorce, came on top, followed by Oman and Kuwait.
The poll by Thomson Reuters’ philanthropic arm surveyed 336 gender experts in August and September in 21 Arab League states and Syria, which was a founding member of the Arab League but was suspended in 2011.
Questions were based on provisions of the UN Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which 19 Arab states have signed or ratified.
The poll assessed violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.
Experts were asked to respond to statements and rate the importance of factors affecting women’s rights across the six categories. Their responses were converted into scores, which were averaged to create a ranking.
Egypt is the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, according to the poll, citing sexual harassment, high rates of female genital mutilation and a surge in violence.
Discriminatory laws and a spike in trafficking also contributed to Egypt’s place at the bottom of a ranking of 22 Arab states, the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey found.
Despite hopes that women would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the Arab Spring, they have instead been some of the biggest losers, as the revolts have brought conflict, instability, displacement and a rise in Islamist groups in many parts of the region, experts said.
“We removed the Mubarak from our presidential palace, but we still have to remove the Mubarak who lives in our minds and in our bedrooms,” Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy said, referring to Egypt’s toppled dictator, Hosni Mubarak.
“As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who’ve ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women.”
The foundation’s third annual women’s rights poll gives a comprehensive snapshot of the state of women’s rights in the Arab world three years after the events of 2011 and as Syria’s conflict threatens further regional upheaval.
Iraq ranked second-worst after Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.
Egypt scored badly in almost all categories.
A UN report on women in April said 99.3 per cent of women and girls are subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt.
Human Rights Watch reported that 91 women were raped or sexually assaulted in public in Tahrir Square in June as anti-Mohamed Morsi protests heated up.
“There are whole villages on the outskirts of Cairo and elsewhere where the bulk of economic activity is based on trafficking in women and forced marriages,” said Zahra Radwan, Middle East and North Africa programme officer for the Global Fund for Women, a US-based rights group.
Female genital mutilation is endemic in Egypt, where 91 per cent of women and girls — 27.2 million in all — are subjected to cutting, according to UNICEF. Only Djibouti has a higher rate, with 93 per cent of women and girls cut.
In Iraq, women’s freedoms have regressed since the US-led 2003 invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the poll showed.
Domestic abuse and prostitution have increased, illiteracy has soared and up to 10 per cent of women — or 1.6 million — have been left widowed and vulnerable, according to Refugees International.
In Saudi Arabia, ranked third worst, experts noted some advances. S. Arabia remains the only country that bans female drivers but cautious reforms pushed by King Abdullah have given women more employment opportunities and a greater public voice.
Since January, 30 women have been appointed in the 150-member shura council, but the council has no legislative or budgetary powers.
Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system forbids women from working, travelling abroad, opening a bank account or enrolling in higher education without permission from a male relative.
Syria’s civil war has had a devastating impact on women at home and in refugee camps across borders, where they are vulnerable to trafficking, forced and child marriage and sexual violence, experts said.
Rights groups say forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have targeted women with rape and torture, while hardline Islamists have stripped them of rights in rebel-held territory.
The poll highlighted a mixed picture for women’s rights in other Arab Spring countries.
In Yemen, ranked fifth worst, women protested side-by-side with men during the 2011 revolution and there is a 30 per cent quota for women in a national dialogue conference convened to discuss constitutional reforms.
But they face an uphill struggle for rights in a largely conservative country where child marriage is common.
In Libya, ranked 14th for women’s rights, experts voiced concern over the spread of armed militias and a rise in kidnapping, extortion, random arrests and physical abuse of women.
In Tunisia, ranked best among Arab Spring nations, women hold 27 per cent of seats in national parliament and contraception is legal, but polygamy is spreading and inheritance laws are biased towards males.
Along with Syria, all Arab League member states except Somalia and Sudan have signed or ratified CEDAW.
In the absence of full statehood recognition for the Palestinian territories, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas symbolically endorsed the convention on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
But protection offered by CEDAW is superficial, experts said. Signatories may raise reservations against any article that contradicts Sharia (Islamic law), a country’s family code, personal status laws or any piece of national legislation.
Annoucer in a fit of laughter
عمان الأردنية - عمان – 11/9/2014 – تعلن وزارة العمل عن توفر 100 فرصة عمل لمضيفي ومضيفات طيران في إحدى شركات الطيران العربيةونوهت الوزارة إلى أن فرص العمل متاحة أمام الجنسين مع الأفضلية للإناث على أن يكون المتقدمين من حملة الثانوية العامة كحد أدنى.
Jordan’s public sector seen more corrupt this year — report
AMMAN — Jordan’s public sector is perceived to be more corrupt than last year, graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) said in a statement on Tuesday, as the Kingdom scored 45 points on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2013, compared with 48 in 2012.
Jordan ranked 66 among the 177 countries surveyed, compared with 58 last year.
Two-thirds of the countries surveyed scored below 50, on a scale from 0, perceived to be highly corrupt, to 100, perceived to be very clean.
The Berlin-based non-profit group said the result indicates the world has a “serious, worldwide corruption problem” that needs to be addressed.
The UAE is perceived to be the cleanest in the MENA region, while Sudan is seen to be the most corrupt.
The CPI saw Jordan’s regional ranking drop to the sixth among Arab countries compared to the fourth last year, after Oman and Saudi Arabia gained on the Kingdom.
According to the graft index, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are seen as the world’s most corrupt countries while Denmark and New Zealand are nearly squeaky-clean.
The most widely used indicator of corruption in political parties, police, justice systems and civil services worldwide, the CPI is a composite index of surveys and assessments of corruption collected from independent institutions.
The nature of corruption makes it impossible to measure meaningfully, says TI, which leads the group to collect data from institutions like the World Bank, African Development Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit, Bertelsmann Foundation, Freedom House and others.
Among countries that have slipped the most on CPI 2013 are war-torn Syria, Libya and Mali.
In a statement on its website, TI said the world urgently needs a renewed effort to crack down on money laundering, clean up political finance, pursue the return of stolen assets and build more transparent public institutions.
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