Daily TIP

Palestinian elections delayed again, highlighting Fatah-Hamas rift

Posted by Tip Staff - October 04, 2016


 

The Palestinian Authority announced Tuesday that municipal elections in the Palestinian territories would be postponed four months until the beginning of 2017. The elections were previously slated for October 8.
The announcement came just a day after the PA’s Supreme Court ruled that the municipal elections would only be held in the West Bank, excluding the Gaza Strip. The PA’s Central Election Committee disagreed with the ruling, and responded by suggesting a postponement in the elections because "de facto, in the current environment, it is impossible to hold a vote and to remove Gaza from the equation." Hamas criticized both the court’s ruling and the PA’s decision to postpone elections, saying they were politically motivated attempts to avoid a Fatah defeat.
A Palestinian high court ruled last month that the elections would be postponed until at least December 21. Disputes between Hamas and Fatah over candidate eligibility, as well as questions over voter participation in Jerusalem, led to the breakdown. Trouble had been brewing for quite some time, with both main Palestinian parties accusing each other of trying to sabotage the vote. Journalists who reported unfavorably on one faction or another have been targeted.
Hamas boycotted the previous municipal elections in 2012 and, if held, the postponed elections would be the first in which both Fatah and Hamas have participated since 2006, which Hamas won overwhelmingly. A brutal civil war ensued the next year, leaving 161 Palestinians killed, more than 700 wounded, and led to Hamas exerting complete control over the Gaza Strip.

 

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government Monday following his 544-day imprisonment, claiming he was taken hostage and physically and psychologically tortured. His wife was also held for 72 days.
The couple was arrested at gunpoint in Tehran on July 22, 2014 under loose charges of espionage. Mr. Rezaian’s case was heard in a secret trial by an Iranian Revolutionary Court judge blacklisted by the European Union for rights abuses. "In reality, Jason committed no crime and was never legitimately tried, convicted, or sentenced - even according to Iranian standards," the lawsuit argues. It further claims the couple was subjected to “unlawful acts of terrorism, torture, hostage taking and other torts,” and the family is asking for an unspecified sum for the “irreparable harm”.
Examples of physical and psychological harm included sleep deprivation, isolated interrogations, and threats made by the captors of dismemberment and execution. Each was warned that the other might be maimed or executed—and that the same fate may befall other family members in Iran.
The suit also postulates that Iran “held him hostage for the purpose of extorting concessions” during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. After the nuclear deal was announced, the State Department warned that Americans visiting Iran were subject to detention and imprisonment on false charges.

 

The second annual China-Israel Investment Conference—which convened around 5,000 Israeli startups with 1,000 Chinese investors and strategic players—concluded in Tel Aviv last week. The summit kicked off with a staggering announcement: Chinese IT corporation Neusoft and Israeli-Chinese private equity fund Infinity Group said they would jointly set up a $250 million fund to invest in Israeli medical technologies over the next three years.
“The establishment of this fund is another step in deepening the economic ties between Israel and China,” said Amir Gal-Or, Infinity Group founder and chairman of the summit.
Chinese-Israeli relations are warming as the world’s second-largest economy shifts from an emphasis on manufacturing and labor to technology and innovation—Israel’s forte. Amit Lang, the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry, characterized China as a “strategic partner” for trade, noting that Israel established six trade missions in the country, more than in any other.
An Israeli official announced that China and Israel will soon begin negotiations on establishing a free trade zone, the next step in what could become a highly lucrative relationship.

A new program in Israel will work to prepare outstanding Bedouin high school students for a career in Israel’s high tech industry. Ten female and ten male students have been selected to participate in the yearlong program, called Bridgetech, and be educated in essential skills such as English, computers, mathematics, and spoken Hebrew.
“We have set ourselves the long-term aim of bridging between the Bedouin population and the world of high tech and giving the talented students a successful starting point,” said Ariel Dloomi, the co-executive director of Ajeec, the non-governmental organization behind Bridgetech. Ajeec works to narrow social and economic gaps between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. The program is free and students will receive financing from Israel’s National Insurance Institute, which also backs the program.
In 2015, the Israeli Ministry of Economy announced a three-year program whose purpose was to provide 1,000 Arab graduates with jobs in the high-tech sector. Israeli employment centers also help Bedouin women to integrate into the workforce. Sadel Technologies is an all-Bedouin technology company that specializes in software development and quality assurance. Its CEO, Ibrahim Sana, cofounded the company with two Israeli investors.


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