Palestinians inspect a classroom of a United Nations-run school that was damaged in Israeli shelling, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip September 15, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians inspect a classroom of a UN-run school that was damaged this week in Israeli shelling in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

Palestinians should counter a US assault on their rights by strengthening their institutions and civic society

Hussein Ibish

Even for a people accustomed to difficult circumstances, the Palestinians are suddenly confronting an extraordinary, unexpected and devastating assault on their national rights, prospects and even identity. How they and their friends respond will determine how much long-term damage they sustain or avoid.

Washington has long been a biased but indispensable third party between Israel and the Palestinians. And there still aren’t any viable alternatives.

However, even those highly suspicious of the Trump administration's intentions have been shocked by the vicious political war it has declared on a huge range of Palestinian concerns.

Donald Trump demolished the negotiating framework established by the 1993 Declaration of Principles by recognising Jerusalem, without any qualifications, as Israel's capital. He keeps reiterating he's trying to take the issue "off the table" so "we don't have to talk about it anymore".

His administration has eliminated all US funding for Palestinian-related institutions, except the Palestinian Security Forces, which maintain law and order in parts of the West Bank, to Israel's enormous benefit.

However, Palestinian hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem have been stripped of funding. So has the UN agency, UNRWA, that provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees. And the administration is trying to eradicate that agency altogether and eliminate Palestinian refugees from existence by stripping them of their official refugee status altogether.

Finally last week, the Trump administration shuttered the de facto Palestinian embassy in Washington.

All this, they say, is supposed to encourage Palestinian co-operation with a forthcoming Trump team "peace proposal".

The message to Palestinians is unmistakable: you have no options other than to capitulate to whatever we propose.

Don't think you can go back to the old negotiations. We just cancelled them.

Don't imagine existing agreements mean anything. We just cancelled them too. And don't try to turn to multilateral institutions like the International Criminal Court. We're declaring war on them as well.

And don't even hope you can just keep what you have now and wait us out. That's all off the table as well and we’re taking as much as we can away from you in advance.

Plus, we’re not giving anything back to you unless you agree to our terms, which we will tell you about sometime soon – maybe.

It’s beyond infuriating. But Palestinians should resist the temptation to overreact.

Angry gestures won't accomplish anything. This unwarranted assault demands a serious and intelligent reply.

Suddenly confronted with this spectre of isolation, Palestinians and their friends must recognise the folly of having essentially abandoned the programme of institution-building pioneered and led by former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad.

Rolling up their sleeves and developing Palestinian national institutions, with or without US support and Israeli permission, should be the main response. Whatever the future holds, Palestinians can’t accomplish much without functional national institutions and a vibrant civil society.

Palestinians should also prepare for the post-Trump era in US politics, which could be rapidly approaching. Even some of Mr Trump’s own officials are working on that.

Palestinians should paint these horrifying developments as a core part of a spate of aberrations by a reckless and foolish administration. They should clearly convey their eagerness to work with the next administration, of whatever party, to rapidly and constructively undo the damage.

To all audiences, Palestinians leaders should squarely blame Mr Trump and his clique and not Washington in general.

The Democratic Party is well-positioned to benefit from the aftermath of the current fiasco. Palestinians have a crucial opportunity to develop closer ties to increasingly receptive Democrats, and not just from the far left, by emphasising the need to resume the quest for an agreement with Israel that ends the conflict and the occupation.

If an opportunity somehow opens with Mr Trump or other Republicans, of course they should take it. But that’s very hard to imagine and an intensive dialogue with Democrats makes more sense now.

As always, Palestinians need help and should get it.

The Arab world can't afford to sit idly by. Mr Trump’s radical diplomatic and political disruption on Palestine is potentially extremely dangerous to even the most stable governments.

Arab states should and have opposed these reprehensible steps on principle and in defence of international law and binding agreements, as well as Palestinian rights.

However, Arab governments – especially those with close relations with Washington – need to also guard against the potential political blowback from this mindless anti-Palestinian campaign.

And as long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved and, worse, is exacerbated in this gratuitous manner, the main beneficiaries are Iran and Hezbollah, Palestinian radicals like Hamas and terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The Arabs need a resolution to this highly destabilising conflict, which is an endless source of strength for all extremists.

Arab countries, therefore, should urgently work with Palestinians to make up for the funding losses and make that funding contingent on institutional and governance development in Palestine. And those that have strong relations with the United States and dealings with Israel should use that influence to oppose and reverse this reckless, incendiary and unprovoked assault on an entire people.

Hussein Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States ­Institute in Washington


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Gertrude Bell's life in focus

A feature film

At one point, two feature films were in the works, but only German director Werner Herzog’s project starring Nicole Kidman would be made. While there were high hopes he would do a worthy job of directing the biopic, when Queen of the Desert arrived in 2015 it was a disappointment. Critics panned the film, in which Herzog largely glossed over Bell’s political work in favour of her ill-fated romances.

A documentary

A project that did do justice to Bell arrived the next year: Sabine Krayenbuhl and Zeva Oelbaum’s Letters from Baghdad: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Gertrude Bell. Drawing on more than 1,000 pieces of archival footage, 1,700 documents and 1,600 letters, the filmmakers painstakingly pieced together a compelling narrative that managed to convey both the depth of Bell’s experience and her tortured love life.

Books, letters and archives

Two biographies have been written about Bell, and both are worth reading: Georgina Howell’s 2006 book Queen of the Desert and Janet Wallach’s 1996 effort Desert Queen. Bell published several books documenting her travels and there are also several volumes of her letters, although they are hard to find in print. Original documents are housed at the Gertrude Bell Archive at the University of Newcastle, which has an online catalogue.

Abramovich London

A Kensington Palace Gardens house with 15 bedrooms is valued at more than £150 million.

A three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront bought for £22 million.

Steel company Evraz drops more than 10 per cent in trading after UK officials said it was potentially supplying the Russian military.

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5.30pm: Al Khaleej – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
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7pm: Al Karamah – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
7.30pm: Al Salam – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m


Everton 4

Richarlison 13'), Sigurdsson 28', ​​​​​​​Digne 56', Walcott 64'

Manchester United 0

Man of the match: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)

Match info

Liverpool 3
Hoedt (10' og), Matip (21'), Salah (45+3')

Southampton 0

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

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Mountain Boy

Director: Zainab Shaheen

Starring: Naser Al Messabi

Rating: 3/5

The specs: 2018 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Cabriolet

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Engine 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission Seven-speed automatic

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The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre V8

Transmission: seven-speed auto

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Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

If you go

The flights

Fly direct to London from the UAE with Etihad, Emirates, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from about Dh2,500 return including taxes. 

The hotel

Rooms at the convenient and art-conscious Andaz London Liverpool Street cost from £167 (Dh800) per night including taxes.

The tour

The Shoreditch Street Art Tour costs from £15 (Dh73) per person for approximately three hours. 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Asia Cup Qualifier

UAE v Hong Kong

Live on OSN Cricket HD. Coverage starts at 5.30am

Pakistan World Cup squad

Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez(subject to fitness), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain      

Two additions for England ODIs: Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


UAE’s remaining fixtures in World Cup qualification R2
Oct 8: Malaysia (h)
Oct 13: Indonesia (a)
Nov 12: Thailand (h)
Nov 17: Vietnam (h)

Fight card
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  • Kem Ljungquist (Denmark) beat Mourad Omar (Egypt) TKO
  • Michael Lawal (UK) beat Tamas Kozma (Hungary) KO​​​​​​​
  • Zuhayr Al Qahtani (Saudi Arabia) beat Mohammed Mahmoud (UK) POINTS
  • Darren Surtees (UK) beat Kane Baker (UK) KO
  • Chris Eubank Jr (UK) beat JJ McDonagh (Ireland) TKO
  • Callum Smith (UK) beat George Groves (UK) KO

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)


Liverpool 2

Wijnaldum (14), Oxlade-Chamberlain (52)

Genk 1

Samatta (40)