Uncertain truce sets the stage for statehood bid



Dawn broke over Gaza yesterday not to the sound of rockets or shelling, the refrain of the previous eight days, but to a shaky ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The tally from the week of violence: more than 150 Palestinians and five Israelis killed, and hundreds wounded. Those are the numbers. Now come the questions.

For Palestinians and Israelis alike, the most pressing issue is whether this truce will hold and for how long. Brokered by Egypt and the United States, the diplomatic respite was already being tested hours after the ceasefire came into effect. Hamas rockets were fired into Israel overnight, while in the West Bank, Israeli forces arrested 55 people Israel termed "terror operatives".

What comes next? In a sense, all sides are losers in the bloodshed, but this most recent violence may indeed be a game changer for Middle East politics and the continuing Palestinian crisis. As Daoud Kattub argues in these pages today, there is some desperately needed momentum towards Palestinian unity.

Middle East politics have look dramatically different since the last time Israel laid siege to Gaza in 2008. During the Mubarak era, Israel could count on a pliant Cairo to oppose Hamas, which was founded as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. And yet this time, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government saw no choice but to shelve - for now - plans for a ground assault, "to give a chance to Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire". As always, Mr Netanyahu's words must be taken with a grain of salt, and there is much speculation about how the violence will affect Israeli elections in two months.

Mr Netanyahu will claim success for targeting Hamas's weapons caches, and for the assassination of Hamas strategist Ahmed Jaabari. But this offensive against civilians in Gaza, launched on the pretext of self-defence, was a disaster for Israel in the long-term view. Regardless of who wins in the January vote, Israel's leaders have merely incurred more international ill will that will further isolate them in the region.

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi is being called the real victor of the conflict, having reasserted Cairo's regional diplomatic role. But Egypt must negotiate this new-found influence carefully. The durability of the ceasefire will be the first test for Mr Morsi, but in the long term the Islamist leader will still have to balance support for Hamas with Egypt's interests, which include the peace treaty with Israel. Perhaps one silver lining is that the deal brokered by Mr Morsi indicates that the Rafah crossing will be permanently opened - another crack in the punitive blockade strangling the Gaza Strip.

Most crucially, it will be Palestinians who determine the aftermath. Later this month, President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to present to the United Nations a request for statehood recognition - that state must include both the West Bank and Gaza. Mr Abbas's phone call to congratulate Hamas leaders yesterday was a glimmer of a hope, but the two factions have been divided for too long by disagreements that look very petty when weighed against the Palestinian struggle. That must change.

For a statehood bid to be anything more than symbolic - and to muster the political will to displace Israel's illegal West Bank settlements - leaders on both sides must put aside personal differences. Hamas has arguably emerged stronger from this conflict, but a Palestinian state will not be won on the battlefield.

Even if the violence has abated, the underlying grievance for Gazans, and for all Palestinians,remains. Gaza is plagued by food and water shortages, crippling unemployment, travel restrictions, poor health care and lost futures - all the result of Israel's crippling blockade. None of that will change until Palestinians realise their political aspirations. Otherwise this cycle of violence will continue.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

Intercontinental Cup

Namibia v UAE Saturday Sep 16-Tuesday Sep 19

Table 1 Ireland, 89 points; 2 Afghanistan, 81; 3 Netherlands, 52; 4 Papua New Guinea, 40; 5 Hong Kong, 39; 6 Scotland, 37; 7 UAE, 27; 8 Namibia, 27

Mica

Director: Ismael Ferroukhi

Stars: Zakaria Inan, Sabrina Ouazani

3 stars

Florence and the Machine – High as Hope
Three stars

Libya's Gold

UN Panel of Experts found regime secretly sold a fifth of the country's gold reserves.

The panel’s 2017 report followed a trail to West Africa where large sums of cash and gold were hidden by Abdullah Al Senussi, Qaddafi’s former intelligence chief, in 2011.

Cases filled with cash that was said to amount to $560m in 100 dollar notes, that was kept by a group of Libyans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

A second stash was said to have been held in Accra, Ghana, inside boxes at the local offices of an international human rights organisation based in France.

RESULT

Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Jota (2', 32')
Thiago (37')
Van Dijk (52')

Man of the match: Diogo Jota (Liverpool)

EU's 20-point migration plan

1. Send EU border guards to Balkans

2. €40 million for training and surveillance

3. Review EU border protection

4. Reward countries that fund Balkans 

5. Help Balkans improve asylum system

6. Improve migrant reception facilities 

7. Close gaps in EU registration system

8. Run pilots of faster asylum system

9. Improve relocation of migrants within EU

10. Bolster migration unit in Greece

11. Tackle smuggling at Serbia/Hungary border

12. Implement €30 million anti-smuggling plan

13. Sanctions on transport linked to smuggling

14. Expand pilot deportation scheme in Bosnia 

15. Training for Balkans to deport migrants

16. Joint task forces with Balkans and countries of origin

17. Close loopholes in Balkan visa policy 

18. Monitor migration laws passed in Balkans 

19. Use visa-free travel as leverage over Balkans 

20. Joint EU messages to Balkans and countries of origin

COMPANY PROFILE

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

COMPANY PROFILE

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

MAIN CARD

Bantamweight 56.4kg
Abrorbek Madiminbekov v Mehdi El Jamari

Super heavyweight 94+kg
Adnan Mohammad v Mohammed Ajaraam

Lightweight 60kg
Zakaria Eljamari v Faridoon Alik Zai

Light heavyweight 81.4kg
Mahmood Amin v Taha Marrouni

Light welterweight 64.5kg
Siyovush Gulmamadov v Nouredine Samir

Light heavyweight 81.4kg
Ilyass Habibali v Haroun Baka

'Falling for Christmas'

Director: Janeen Damian

Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, Jack Wagner, Aliana Lohan

Rating: 1/5

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Meydan racecard:

6.30pm: Handicap | US$135,000 (Dirt) | 1,400 metres

7.05pm: Handicap | $135,000 (Turf) | 1,200m

7.40pm: Dubai Millennium Stakes | Group 3 | $200,000 (T) | 2,000m

8.15pm: UAE Oaks | Group 3 | $250,000 (D) | 1,900m

8.50pm: Zabeel Mile | Group 2 | $250,000 (T) | 1,600m

9.20pm: Handicap | $135,000 (T) | 1,600m

COMPANY PROFILE

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

Why it pays to compare

A comparison of sending Dh20,000 from the UAE using two different routes at the same time - the first direct from a UAE bank to a bank in Germany, and the second from the same UAE bank via an online platform to Germany - found key differences in cost and speed. The transfers were both initiated on January 30.

Route 1: bank transfer

The UAE bank charged Dh152.25 for the Dh20,000 transfer. On top of that, their exchange rate margin added a difference of around Dh415, compared with the mid-market rate.

Total cost: Dh567.25 - around 2.9 per cent of the total amount

Total received: €4,670.30 

Route 2: online platform

The UAE bank’s charge for sending Dh20,000 to a UK dirham-denominated account was Dh2.10. The exchange rate margin cost was Dh60, plus a Dh12 fee.

Total cost: Dh74.10, around 0.4 per cent of the transaction

Total received: €4,756

The UAE bank transfer was far quicker – around two to three working days, while the online platform took around four to five days, but was considerably cheaper. In the online platform transfer, the funds were also exposed to currency risk during the period it took for them to arrive.

First-round leaderbaord

-5 C Conners (Can)

-3 B Koepka (US), K Bradley (US), V Hovland (Nor), A Wise (US), S Horsfield (Eng), C Davis (Aus);

-2 C Morikawa (US), M Laird (Sco), C Tringale (US)

Selected others: -1 P Casey (Eng), R Fowler (US), T Hatton (Eng)

Level B DeChambeau (US), J Rose (Eng) 

+1 L Westwood (Eng), J Spieth (US)

+3 R McIlroy (NI)

+4 D Johnson (US)