epaselect epa07170725 Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli troops during the clashes after Friday protests near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip in the east Gaza Strip, 16 November 2018. Protesters plan to call for the right of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East to return to homes they fled in the war surrounding the 1948 creation of Israel.  EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli troops during the clashes after Friday protests near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip in the east Gaza Strip. EPA

Electoral pressure may push Israel into new Gaza attack, analysts say



An already volatile situation on the Israel-Gaza border could become even tenser if Israel moves towards early elections, Palestinian analysts say, warning that a wave of violence could once-again flare-up between the two rival territories.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing pressure to head for early polls, which could come as soon as February, after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned and pulled his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party out of the prime minister's ruling coalition this week, leaving it with only 61 out of 120 seats in the Knesset.

Another far-right party, Jewish Home, is calling for early elections after its leader, Naftali Bennett, was rebuffed Friday in his demand to become the new defence minister so that he could, in his own words, lead Israel to victory over Hamas.

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Read more:

Israeli elections seem likely after Lieberman's resignation

Gaza truce holds but Israeli minister's resignation leaves government in turmoil

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Mr Netanyahu’s government was thrown into discord when the prime minister agreed to a ceasefire with Palestinian fighters on Tuesday after a new round of violence between Israeli forces and Hamas killed six Gazans and one Israeli.

Both Mr Liberman and Mr Bennett charge the prime minister with responding weakly by accepting a ceasefire.

Mr Liberman accused the prime minister of "capitulating to terror."

Hamas and other groups fired an estimated 450 rockets into southern Israel, while Israel carried out airstrikes against 160 targets during the latest round of fighting.

Hamas is now claiming victory and its leader, Yihya Sinwar, threatened on Friday to hit Tel Aviv next time. With residents of southern Israel burning tires and blocking roads to protest against the decision to halt attacks on Gaza, Mr Netanyahu is left in a vulnerable position.

"If Mr Netanyahu feels he is in problematic circumstances related to the most extreme parties in Israel, maybe he will go for an attack [in Gaza]," said Ashraf Ajrami, the former minister of prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority.

Mr Netanyahu would do this to convince right-wing voters that he is not less concerned about Israeli security than rival politicians on the far right who are currently casting him as weak for agreeing to a ceasefire, Mr Ajrami says.

Mr Ajrami does not believe the Israeli prime minister would deliberately launch an all-out war during the election campaign. But if he feels he is losing ground politically, he may opt for an assassination of a Hamas leader even if it means rocket barrages in response, he adds.

Given that there have been three devastating Israeli military campaigns in Gaza over the last decade, all of them justified by Israel as necessary responses to rocket attacks, the danger that such an escalation could take on a dynamic of its own is very real.

Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza city, says that the eventual outcome will depend on Hamas's behaviour during the election campaign.

"If Hamas in Gaza provokes Israel, then Mr Netanyahu, under internal Israeli pressure, might take advantage to wage a strong military campaign against Gaza which would help him in the election," he says.

Mr Abusada believes there will be no progress during the election campaign in moving towards a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, despite diplomatic efforts by Egypt and other third parties to broker a lasting solution.

This is mainly because Hamas feels buoyed by the outcome of last week's confrontation and will up its demands, while Netanyahu will be wary of making concessions because they will expose him to further criticism and may harm his election chances, he said.

Irrespective of whether or not Israel heads to early polls, the Palestinian public has dim hopes that any promising solution could be reached, Mr Abusada said, adding that it also didn’t matter to most Palestinians which group secures a majority in elections.

"People are convinced that it doesn't matter whether the right wing or centre-left wins. They think whoever comes won't be a Yitzhak Rabin again ready to make compromises for peace,” he said, referring to Israel’s fifth prime minister, who approved the Oslo Accords, which raised hopes Israel would withdraw gradually from occupied territories and grant the Palestinians self-determination.

Mr Abusada said he personally is hoping for a centre-left victory on the grounds it would reduce Israel's settlement drive in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Ajrami, the former minister, also has low expectations.

"Unfortunately the Israeli political map is now a right-wing one. If there are early elections, it doesn't change the political map. The right-wing parties will be a majority according to recent polls,” he said.

“So we really don't see any change for better circumstances coming. But if there is a surprise, it will be good for Palestinians and Israelis to have a peace process because under this coalition there is no hope for a peace process."

Conservative MPs who have publicly revealed sending letters of no confidence
  1. Steve Baker
  2. Peter Bone
  3. Ben Bradley
  4. Andrew Bridgen
  5. Maria Caulfield​​​​​​​
  6. Simon Clarke
  7. Philip Davies
  8. Nadine Dorries​​​​​​​
  9. James Duddridge​​​​​​​
  10. Mark Francois
  11. Chris Green
  12. Adam Holloway
  13. Andrea Jenkyns
  14. Anne-Marie Morris
  15. Sheryll Murray
  16. Jacob Rees-Mogg
  17. Laurence Robertson
  18. Lee Rowley
  19. Henry Smith
  20. Martin Vickers
  21. John Whittingdale
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

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Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
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Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Ashutosh Rana, Vaani Kapoor

Rating: Two out of five stars 

Turning waste into fuel

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Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

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Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Coming soon

Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura

When the W Dubai – The Palm hotel opens at the end of this year, one of the highlights will be Massimo Bottura’s new restaurant, Torno Subito, which promises “to take guests on a journey back to 1960s Italy”. It is the three Michelinstarred chef’s first venture in Dubai and should be every bit as ambitious as you would expect from the man whose restaurant in Italy, Osteria Francescana, was crowned number one in this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Akira Back Dubai

Another exciting opening at the W Dubai – The Palm hotel is South Korean chef Akira Back’s new restaurant, which will continue to showcase some of the finest Asian food in the world. Back, whose Seoul restaurant, Dosa, won a Michelin star last year, describes his menu as,  “an innovative Japanese cuisine prepared with a Korean accent”.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

The highly experimental chef, whose dishes are as much about spectacle as taste, opens his first restaurant in Dubai next year. Housed at The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will feature contemporary twists on recipes that date back to the 1300s, including goats’ milk cheesecake. Always remember with a Blumenthal dish: nothing is quite as it seems. 

UAE SQUAD

Mohammed Naveed (captain), Mohamed Usman (vice captain), Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammed Boota, Ghulam Shabber, Imran Haider, Tahir Mughal, Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed, Fahad Nawaz, Abdul Shakoor, Sultan Ahmed, CP Rizwan

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
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Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Coffee: black death or elixir of life?

It is among the greatest health debates of our time; splashed across newspapers with contradicting headlines - is coffee good for you or not?

Depending on what you read, it is either a cancer-causing, sleep-depriving, stomach ulcer-inducing black death or the secret to long life, cutting the chance of stroke, diabetes and cancer.

The latest research - a study of 8,412 people across the UK who each underwent an MRI heart scan - is intended to put to bed (caffeine allowing) conflicting reports of the pros and cons of consumption.

The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, contradicted previous findings that it stiffens arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke, leading to warnings to cut down.

Numerous studies have recognised the benefits of coffee in cutting oral and esophageal cancer, the risk of a stroke and cirrhosis of the liver. 

The benefits are often linked to biologically active compounds including caffeine, flavonoids, lignans, and other polyphenols, which benefit the body. These and othetr coffee compounds regulate genes involved in DNA repair, have anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with lower risk of insulin resistance, which is linked to type-2 diabetes.

But as doctors warn, too much of anything is inadvisable. The British Heart Foundation found the heaviest coffee drinkers in the study were most likely to be men who smoked and drank alcohol regularly.

Excessive amounts of coffee also unsettle the stomach causing or contributing to stomach ulcers. It also stains the teeth over time, hampers absorption of minerals and vitamins like zinc and iron.

It also raises blood pressure, which is largely problematic for people with existing conditions.

So the heaviest drinkers of the black stuff - some in the study had up to 25 cups per day - may want to rein it in.

Rory Reynolds

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The biog

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