News Summary – November 11 – 18
Following the suspension of Syria from the Arab League for its continuous crackdown on protests, approximately another 70 people were killed across the country this week. The EU has reacted by adding antoher 18 Syrian officials to the list of people affected by the travel ban and asset freeze. Germany, France and the UK has drafted a resolution condemning the Syrian regime, which is now expected to be presented at the UN General Assembly, perhaps backed by Arab countries. Also this week King Abdullah of Jordan was the first Arab leader to call explicitly for the Syrian President to step down – “I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down.”
The head of Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, announced that his attempt to convince the Russian government to back the Syrian opposition’s calls for President Assad’s resignation were not successful. Meanwhile, defectors allegedly attacked an air force military base in Harasta, near Damascus. If confirmed, it would be the biggest action undertaken by the Free Syrian Army since its establishment.
In Egypt, the Higher Administrative Court has decided, despite criticism from many Egyptian activists, to overturn the recent ban on former National Democratic Party members running for the upcoming elections. By joining other parties or running as independents, ex-members of the NDP can now participate in the process that will lead to the formation of an assembly which will write the new constitution. Late this week clashes have been reported in Cairo among residents and Christian Copts marching to end discrimination against them.
In Israel members of Kadima Party, the main opposition party, protested after the Knesset approved bills that, in their opinion, would seriously tilt the balance of the Supreme Court to the right, and by doing so undermining the independence of the judicial power. This package came a day after a cabinet committee backed measures that would end foreign funding for Israeli human right groups that are against the building of new settlements.
Hamas and Fatah have agreed to hold elections in May 2012. According to Azzam al-Ahmad, a Fatah official, the two main Palestinian factions have agreed to form a committee that would lead to elections then. This marks a turning point in the four year rift between the two, which started when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Six Palestinian activists (calling themselves ‘Freedom Riders’) were detained by Israeli police after they boarded a bus only allowed for use by Jewish settlers to take them to Jerusalem.