EGYPT TRANSFERS TONS OF BUILDING MATERIALS TO GAZA

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — An Egyptian security official says that thousands of tons of building materials such as cement and steel are crossing into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which had previously been under a strict blockade.

He said the move was made in consultation with Israeli officials, who were in Cairo Thursday to discuss security in the Sinai Peninsula and the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire signed by Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel last month.

The Egyptian official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The director of Gaza’s border authority, Maher Abu Sabha, confirmed to The Associated Press that 20 trucks of material are expected to enter the coastal strip on Saturday through the Rafah crossing. Qatar is paying for the raw materials, which were bought in Egypt.

Egypte helpt Palestina

(bigstory.ap.org / 29.12.2012)

Egypt gets $500 mln from Qatar, says $500 mln from Turkey soon

Egypt’s Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed said Cairo has received $500 million installment of funds promised by Qatar and will get another $500 million from Turkey at the end of January. (Reuters)

Egypt’s Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed said Cairo has received $500 million installment of funds promised by Qatar and will get another $500 million from Turkey at the end of January.

Egypt has received a final $500 million installment of funds promised by Qatar and will get another $500 million from Turkey at the end of January, its finance minister said, in the latest aid to help balance its budget and defend its currency.

Egypt has been facing a financial crisis as a month of political strife has cast doubts on the government’s ability to push through unpopular spending cuts and tax hikes needed to persuade the International Monetary Fund to agree to a $4.8 billion loan.

Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed said on Saturday Egypt had received the final installment out of a total of $2 billion promised by Qatar, although he did not give a date.

“Egypt will receive the remaining $500 million of the Turkish loan at the end of January,” he added.

Egypt has spent more than $20 billion in foreign reserves to support the Egyptian pound since the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

Reserves fell by $448 million in November to reach $15 billion at the end of the month, equal to only about three months of imports.

The political turmoil has led to a run on the pound, with many investors and ordinary citizens rushing to convert into foreign currencies on concern the government might be forced to allow a sharp devaluation.

On Thursday, the central bank allowed the pound to weaken to an eight-year low of 6.188 to the U.S. dollar.

Qatar said in August it would deposit $2 billion with Egypt’s central bank in four $500 million installments to help support the budget, and later that month Egypt said that it had received a first tranche.

Egypt said in October that Turkey had would lend it $1 billion in two tranches, also for budget support, with one tranche coming in October and the second in January.

In June, before Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected president, Egypt said Saudi Arabia had sent $1.5 billion in budget support as part of a $2.7 billion aid package.

“We are still negotiating the remainder of the Saudi aid package,” Saeed said.

(english.alarabiya.net / 29.12.2012)

Relations Between Muslims and Non-Muslims

Islam has not left any aspect of life without its required guidelines. For each aspect, it sets a basic rule, which is in harmony with the basic rules of the other aspects, to indicate in the end, that there is only one Creator and one perfect Legislator. The basic rule usually functions as an axis around which the secondary rules and exceptions revolve. The relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is no exception.The basic rule for relations between Muslims and non-Muslims is based on a few verses. The first can be translated as,

{We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy for the worlds}(Al-Anbiya’ 21:107).

This verse clearly assures that Islam is a mercy for all accountable beings, both humans and the Jinn. Islam is a mercy because it guides Muslims to felicity and happiness in both this world and in the hereafter. But is Islam a mercy for only those who choose it as their faith or should Muslims force people to accept it? Here, the second verse comes to assure that

{There is no compulsion in religion. The truth stands out clear from error.}(Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Other verses that make up the basic rule specifically define the kind of relationship that should take place between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Qur’an says as follows:{Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice. Allah only forbids you respecting those who made war upon you on account of (your) religion, and drove you forth from your homes and backed up (others) in your expulsion, that you make friends (and ally) with them, and whoever makes friends with them, these are wrong-doers.} (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

The above verses clearly assures that Muslims should not force others to accept Islam. In addition, Allah Almighty does not forbid Muslims from dealing justly with those who do not fight Islam or oppress Muslims. Indeed, He enjoins Muslims to do favors for them. Obviously, doing favors is more than just dealing justly, because it gives people more than what they deserve.

The above verses affirm that it is only forbidden to have relations with those who show hostility to Muslims. In this context, those who aid the oppressors are not better than the oppressors themselves.

It is important to note that the above verses were revealed after the first verses of the same surah, Al-Mumtahanah, which forbid taking guardians and trustees from among the enemies of Allah, they also encourage Muslims to follow the example of Prophet Ibrahim who boycotted the enemies of Allah. This fact confirms the validity of the ruling given in the above verses and proves that they had not been abrogated. It is also important that the second verse of the surah provides a clear description of the enemies of Allah.

{If they get the better of you, they would treat you as their enemies and stretch forth,their hands and tongues against you with evil, and they desire that you become unbelievers.}(Al-Mumtahanah 60:2)

The ultimate goal of Islam is to establish peace and to bring about happiness for all beings in both this world and the eternal one.

Verse seven of the same chapter serves as an introduction for verses eight and nine, confirming that the above enmity does not always last forever. Allah says what means,{It may be that Allah creates (mutual) love between you and the ones of them whom you took as enemies} (Al-Mumtahanah 60:7).

The verse does not stipulate an enemy’s conversion as the reason for removing the enmity; actually, enmity may be ended if an enemy takes a supportive or at least a neutral position.

As mentioned above, the ultimate goal of Islam is to establish peace and to bring about happiness for all beings in both this world and the eternal one in the hereafter. In case some people refuse to cooperate in achieving peace and happiness in the hereafter, Muslims should still cooperate with them to maintain peace and happiness in this world. Allah says what means,

{O you people We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. The best among you is the most pious} (Al-Hujurat 49:13).

Islam did not come to break the ties between human beings, to spread hatred and enmity, or to encourage bloodshed. Nor did it come to eliminate the freedom of choice in this life, which is secured by God. Indeed, even Satan was granted the freedom to choose between obeying and disobeying his Lord, he misused this gift and chose to disobey.

The above basic rule is based on the fact that Allah has distinguished humankind and the Jinn with special gifts that made them accountable for their choices in this life, for which they will be rewarded or punished mainly in the hereafter. Among these special gifts are intellectual faculties, divine guidance, and a limited freedom of choice.

The truth shows that the Prophet never once initiated hostility.

A thorough review of the expeditions and battles during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) shows that the Prophet never once initiated hostility. Rather, he only became involved in battles in self-defense and retaliation. In general, the causes of these battles could be classified under the following categories:

  1. Self-defense, such as the battles of Uhud and Al-Khandaq.
  2. Retaliation for oppression and continuous hostility. This is true in the case of all major battles, including the battles with the tribe of Quraish such as Badr.
  3. Following in the tracks of the enemies who carried out a raid on Madinah, such as the expedition of As-Sawiq and the expedition of Thi Qarad.
  4. Surprising enemies who were preparing themselves to attack Muslims, such as the expedition of Bani Al-Mustaliq and the expedition of Dawmat Al-Jandal.
  5. Punishing betrayers or traitors, as in the case of Bani An-Nadeer, Bani Quraidhah, and the conquest of Makkah.

So, the basic rule in the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is that there must be coexistence and peace. This situation must be maintained, even if non-Muslims continue to reject Islam for themselves, as long as they do not react in a hostile way.
(Dr. Sa`id Isma`il Seeni / Professor at Al-Madinah Al-Munwwarah University / www.onislam.net / 29.12.2012)

Arab officials visit cash-strapped Palestinian territory

  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (L) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr (R) upon their arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah December 29, 2012. REUTERS-Fadi Arouri-Pool
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (R) speaks to the media as Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (L) listens during a news conference after his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah December 29, 2012. REUTERS-Mohamad Torokman
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (centre, 2nd R) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr (centre, 3rd R) review an honour guard upon their arrival, to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah December 29, 2012. REUTERS-Mohamad Torokman

RAMALLAH, West Bank

(Reuters) – Top Arab officials paid a rare visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Saturday to discuss a Palestinian financial crisis that President Mahmoud Abbas hopes will be eased by Arab donations.

Arab League Chief Nabil Elaraby and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr congratulated the Palestinians on a successful United Nationsstatus upgrade last month, but stopped short of promising the badly-needed funds.

“Palestine is in need of material and political support,” Elaraby told a news conference in the Palestinians’ de facto capital of Ramallah.

“Arab countries agreed at their Baghdad summit (in March) for an Arab safety net of $100 million dollars each month, but unfortunately none of this has been achieved yet,” he said.

Palestinian were cheered by a strong majority in the United Nationsrecognizing them as an “observer state” on November 29 but have struggled to get Arab support to make up $100 million in shortfalls left by Israeli sanctions following the U.N. move.

Elaraby is the first Arab League Chief to visit Ramallah, but he and other prominent Arab and Islamic leaders, including the Egyptian prime minister, met Abbas’s Palestinian Hamas rivals in Gaza during their brief war with Israel last month.

QATARI LEADER

Hamas, which split from the West Bank after it seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, also won a diplomatic coup by receiving Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar, who pledged $400 million in aid for the impoverished territory in October.

The emir postponed a visit to Ramallah he had announced this month, disappointing West Bank officials who had hoped he would arrive bearing gifts of cash.

The Gaza visits broke years of diplomatic quarantine for the Islamist Hamas group, which refuses to recognize Israel or relinquish its arms, and increased the isolation of the dovish, Western-backed Ramallah government.

West Bank officials have watched with worry as uprisings in the Arab world divert attention from their diplomatic strategy, which has failed to achieve an independent Palestinian state.

Hamas militants, by contrast, have been heartened as fellow-Islamists rise to power in Egypt and elsewhere.

Abbas has accused Israel of “piracy” after it withheld customs revenues it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf, citing months of utilities bills Ramallah owes Israeli companies.

The financial crisis has forced the Palestinian Authority to delay salary payments to West Bank employees, who have gone on strike in protest. Abbas has responded by saying he might give up power and compel Israel to take on the Palestinians’ affairs.

“Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority,” Abbas warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an interview with the Israeli Haaretz newspaper this week.

“I won’t do anything as long as there are diplomatic negotiations,” he said. “But if the stalemate continues…what’s left for us to do?”

(www.reuters.com / 29.12.2012)

IEC calls on media to apply for accreditation to cover upcoming elections

Amman, Dec 29 (Petra) — The IEC calls on all media representatives and journalists who are interested in covering the upcoming parliamentary elections to apply for accreditation at the IEC’s accreditation point in the Royal Cultural Centre in order to obtain their press cards that will enable them to cover the electoral process, noting that the last day for applying for accreditation is Thursday 10th of January,2013.

The IEC has started receiving accreditation applications on Wednesday the 26th of December, where a special team stationed at the Royal Cultural Centre began receiving the applications and started handing out the forms that need to be filled by the media in order to process their applications and provide information and assistance to all those vying for accreditation.

The IEC has also uploaded the application form and the Journalists code of conduct that should be filled and signed by those wanting to obtain accreditation on its website www.entikhabat.jo.

The journalists and media organizations can download the form and the code of conduct (in English and Arabic) and can send them to the IEC on the e-mail: press@entikhabat.jo, in order to be processed and checked.

According to the regulations those vying for accreditation will be requested to fill the application form, sign the journalists code of conduct, provide a copy of the passport (for the foreign media) or a copy of the National Identification Card (for the local media), a letter from the journalists’ media organization stating the he or she works for the organization, in addition to the journalists’ press card and two photos (size 30-40/40-50mm).

The media organizations need to also provide a letter with the names of those it wishes to have accredited (including journalists, cameramen and technicians).

After receiving the required documents, the IEC team will process the application and will provide the applicants with their press cards within three days of receiving the forms. The team will inform the journalists when to obtain their press cards at the IEC’s station in the Royal Cultural Centre.

The IEC’s executive instructions number (13) related to the accreditation of local and foreign journalists wishing to cover the electoral process to provide the following requirements: For local journalists: to provide a letter proving he/she is working for the media institution, to abide by the code of conduct issued by the IEC.

For Foreign Media: the organization should be accredited by the local authorities and for those who are not officially registered in Jordan to provide their press card and to abide by the IEC’s code of conduct.

The executive instructions also state that each journalist who obtains the accreditation and press card has the right to obtain all publishable information related to the electoral process from the IEC, access to polling and counting centers, access to IEC ‘s media centre and the services provided including interviews with officials and heads of election committees.

They are also entitled to present a complaint to the liaison officers at the polling and counting centers in case they obstructed from carrying out their work.

(petra.gov.jo / 29.12.2012)

Gaza man killed in Syria was ‘Qassam commander’

A man rides a motorcycle past damaged buildings in Maaret al-Numan, part of the Idlib governorate, in northwest Syria Dec. 27, 2012.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man who was killed in Syria on Friday was a senior figure in Hamas’ armed wing, rebels and Hamas officials said Saturday.

Muhammad Qunneita, 31, from Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, had been in Syria for four months, his brother told Ma’an.

Rebels told Reuters on Saturday Qunneita was killed in fighting around Aleppo airport where he had been helping to train Arab and Muslim fighters. Activists in Syria also said he had been a prominent figure in Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades.

After Qunneita died on Friday, Hamas-affiliated news site Palestine Now described him as a Al-Qassam field commander, quoting a military official in Gaza.

He had trained several rebel brigades during his time in Syria, and was fatally wounded during the storming of Idlib airport on Thursday, the report said.

But a Hamas source in Gaza told Reuters Qunneita had left the Hamas brigade and joined a jihadi group before leaving for Syria to fight there.

The exiled leadership of Hamas was based in Damascus until earlier this year, when officials from the Sunni Islamist movement, which sympathizes with the uprising against Assad, quietly pulled out.

(www.maannews.net / 29.12.2012)