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Arabic press review: Palestinian Authority mulls cancelling elections

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia investigates 11 corruption cases, an Egyptian journalist disappears after being deported from Jordan, and thousands of Jordanians are at risk of unemployment
Employees of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission display electoral lists at the commission's district offices in the city of Hebron in the West Bank, on 6 April 2021 (AFP)

Palestinians seek Israeli concessions on voting in Jerusalem

The Palestinian leadership has rejected proposals submitted by European countries to hold elections in Jerusalem, as it considers that they detract from Palestinian political and legal rights in an occupied city, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported.

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The Palestinian leadership is expected to make a final decision regarding the general elections within a week, amid negative messages from Israel, the newspaper said.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) gave the European mediators a deadline to respond to its issues regarding holding elections in Jerusalem.

European countries have made several proposals, including opening the offices of their diplomatic representations and consulates in Jerusalem to host ballot boxes for the city’s residents to cast their votes.

The PA believes that the European proposals do not guarantee the right of Jerusalemites to run for election or launch election campaigns, which compromises the status of Jerusalem, the eastern side of which the Palestinians seek as their future capital. 

As part of the Palestinian effort to ensure the success of the elections, President Mahmoud Abbas has sent Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on a European tour, including a visit to the United Kingdom, in a final attempt to persuade Britain to exert pressures on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow Palestinians to hold elections in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leadership is demanding that the voting process be permitted and the right to freely launch electoral campaigns, which is currently denied by Israel, be guaranteed.

New corruption cases investigated in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) on Sunday revealed details of 11 new corruption cases, involving 25 people, that it has recently started pursuing, according to the Saudi Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Nazaha said those implicated in the cases, including military officers, officials and businessmen, are facing embezzlement charges, involving a total of 400m Saudi riyals ($106m).

In the first case, a retired major general working in the Ministry of the National Guard was arrested along with two other employees for receiving funds from foreign and local companies, including an Austrian firm, in exchange for ensuring government contracts.

The three defendants were paid 198m Saudi riyals ($52.8m), according to the newspaper.

The second case involves a former general projects manager in the Ministry of Higher Education and five businessmen who established companies in order to unlawfully obtain projects from the ministry.

Meanwhile, an employee at the foreign ministry illegally spent around 733,000 riyals ($195,000) from an embassy account abroad.

Egyptian journalist disappears after deportation

The family of an Egyptian journalist said that Jordanian authorities have deported him to Egypt upon his arrival in the kingdom without explanation, even though he had left Cairo airport without any problems, reported Arabi21.

Egyptian activist Abderrahman Fares said that his brother, Hassan al-Banna, had left Cairo on Friday and travelled to Jordan, which does not require a pre-entry visa for Egyptians. He had been arrested by Jordanian security at the airport and denied all travel options except a return to Egypt.

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Fares explained that Jordanian security personnel escorted Banna on the flight back to Egypt, where he disappeared. Fares said he fears for his brother's freedom and physical and psychological safety.

Activists said that Banna was detained in Cairo even though he had left the country legally. They said that upon his arrival on Sunday evening, the journalist told his family that he would be interrogated by the General Intelligence Directorate, only to disappear afterwards with no possibility of contacting him.

Banna’s family said it holds the Egyptian security authorities fully responsible for his safety, in addition to holding the Jordanian authorities responsible for what they described as "participating in the crime of extraditing him" to the Egyptian regime.

Banna was arrested in 2018, along with a group of activists, and remained in detention for over two years without charges or judicial conviction.

Thousands of Jordanians face job losses

Jordan’s economic sectors have warned that tens of thousands of workers might lose their jobs due to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent financial difficulties that businesses face, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Trade unions and officials in investment associations held the government responsible for the deterioration of the labour market due to the measures it has adopted, including imposing full and partial lockdowns, closing many sectors and restricting the activities of all businesses and facilities, especially tourism, commercial and industrial ones.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quoted Ahmed Awad, the head of the NGO Labor Observatory, as saying that many sectors announced the imminent dismissal of thousands of workers due to the pandemic crisis and its repercussions, as well as the ineffectiveness of government measures to support companies at this stage. 

Awad explained that financial burdens had exhausted owners of commercial, industrial and service establishments, along with the ongoing closures, restrictions and the decline in people’s purchasing powers. Awad warned that these sectors might start laying off employees by the end of April.

He also expected the unemployment rate to reach 25 percent in the first half of this year, as thousands of people had already lost their jobs. In addition, the return of a large number of Jordanian expats due to economic difficulties in their host countries would further complicate the economic situation in the kingdom.

Awad said that the Syndicate of Garments and Textile Factory Owners announced that 56,000 sector workers would possibly lose their jobs, adding that around 11,000 production facilities may shut down as well.

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