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Arabic press review: Former Palestinian ministers in Israeli settlement dates scandal

Meanwhile, Kuwait stops issuing visas for Lebanese nationals, Palestine's government looks to austerity measures, and Yemen troop withdrawal reported
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The two ex-ministers were arrested after their involvement in 'marketing Israeli settlement dates and changing the origin of those products as Palestinian', in order to pass them to markets that boycott settlement goods (AFP)

Former Palestinian ministers in Israeli dates scandal

Palestinian sources confirmed on Wednesday that the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Comission (PACC) had ordered the arrest of two former Palestinian ministers pending investigations, according to the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

The two ministers were arrested after their involvement in "marketing Israeli settlement dates and changing the origin of those products as Palestinian", in order to pass them to markets that boycott settlement goods.

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According to the sources, who requested anonymity, six other people were arrested alongside the ministers, and an arrest warrant has been issued for a seventh person currently abroad.

One of the two detained former officials is a current board member of the Palestine Investment Fund and was arrested on Tuesday, while the other minister owns palm farms in Jericho, in the eastern West Bank, and served as an agriculture minister in previous Palestinian governments.

Investigations into the case began at the end of October, after the owners of two Palestinian companies working in the field of agricultural products were arrested. An arrest warrant was also issued for a businessman who is based outside the country, while his office manager was arrested, according to the newspaper.

Kuwait stops granting visas to Lebanese nationals

Kuwait's interior ministry is stopping issuing all types of visas to Lebanese nationals until further notice, against the backdrop of the Gulf-Lebanese diplomatic crisis, according to the Kuwaiti Al-Qabas newspaper.

Security sources said the decision includes stopping the issue of “family, tourist, commercial, and governmental ones, as well as stopping the family reunion visas, and all types of work visas”.

The sources pointed out that "the Lebanese who have valid residence papers inside Kuwait are not included in the decision, and they have the right to renew their expired residence, and also those who are outside the country can return to it if they have a work permit or want to join a family”.

Withdrawal of Yemeni government forces

Yemeni military sources said that government forces have begun withdrawing from several areas and locations south and east of the coastal governorate of Hodeidah on the Red Sea west of the country, according to Arabi21.

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The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the joint Yemeni forces stationed in the city of Hodeidah received instructions to withdraw from the areas and locations in which they are stationed to the al-Hima area, south of the coastal city.

The sources indicated that the joint forces supervised by the UAE, in the coastal district of Ad Durayhimi, south of Hodeidah, began withdrawing since Wednesday morning and withdrew 80 percent of their fighters and equipment, based on the directions described as "vague".

On the other hand, one of the sources confirmed that the Houthis are mobilising their military forces inside the city of Hodeidah, coinciding with the start of government forces withdrawing from the area, "in a foggy scene, surrounded by several question marks."

Palestinian Authority experiencing major financial crisis

The Palestinian government is moving to take austerity measures that will affect employees working in the security and civil sectors, as it seeks to addess a stifling financial crisis prior to the donors conference scheduled in the Norwegian capital Oslo, reports Al-Quds Al-Araby newspaper.

The government did not reveal the nature of the measures but called on employees, in a statement issued after an extraordinary meeting held on Tuesday night, to "understand" the measures that would mitigate the effects of the crisis and its repercussions.

Amjad Ghanem, secretary-general of the Palestinian cabinet, revealed a proposal presented during the government session, to deduct part of the employees' salaries over the coming months.

Ghanem added: "This came in order to fulfill all obligations, whether employees, less fortunate social classes, or the private sector, medicines and medical referrals, in order to fully operate state institutions, stressing that the matter is still the subject of discussions and suggestions, and no decision has been taken so far.”

The Palestinian government says the financial crisis is caused by a number of things, the first of which is the insistence of the Israeli government to impose deductions from Palestinian tax funds, and the second of which is the end of financial aid provided by European and Arab donor countries since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

For many months, neither European nor Arab countries have delivered any funds to the Palestinian treasury, while Europe promised to resume support soon after the Palestinian prime minister's visit to the union headquarters in Brussels.

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye