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Arabic press review: Syrian opposition to hold conference in Berlin

Meanwhile, Palestinian politicians endorse the US envoy, and floods ruin an archaeological museum in Saudi Arabia
People outside the Pantheon in Paris wave flags used by the Syrian National Coalition, in support of detainees in Syrian prisons, 18 March 2017 (AFP)

Syrian opposition to meet in Berlin

An active Syrian organisation in Europe has sent invitations to Syrian opposition figures to attend a conference set to be held in Berlin between 30 July and 1 August to "discuss ways to solve the Syrian crisis", reported Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

A well-informed source revealed that diplomatic delegations from some countries described as "friends of the Syrian people" will attend the conference hosted by the Developmental Interaction Network.

It is expected that prominent opposition figures will participate, including former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, former head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Moaz al-Khatib, and the well-known Syrian opposition figure Burhan Ghalioun.

The same source indicated that the lawyer and human rights defender Anwar al-Bunni was the one who sent the conference invitations, but he denied this to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Bunni stressed that the solution was no longer in the hands of the Syrians, but that the conference may be useful for exchanging ideas, presenting viewpoints and speaking freely among Syrians.

Bunni pointed out that the organisers refused to talk about the issue in the media, adding: “Maybe they do not want the media to have a negative role in handling the idea, because they want this conference or meeting to bring Syrians together to speak honestly and clearly, away from rigid and diplomatic discourses usually promoted in the media.”

There is little public information about the Developmental Interaction Network, which was founded by Syrian activists in 2013 to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and document human rights crimes committed by the Syrian government and other warring parties, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Palestinian politicians satisfied with US envoy

Palestinian politicians have expressed their satisfaction with the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, reported the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

The newspaper quoted exclusive sources as saying that during the meetings held with Amr, the Palestinian Authority (PA) asked Washington "not to link the economic improvements that the occupation authorities are supposed to ensure to any developments in the political track”.

The meetings the PA held with the US envoy discussed the Palestinian point of view and the difficulties facing the PA at the present time, especially at an economic and financial level, which were caused by the occupation’s imposition of tax fund reductions, economic restrictions, and the prohibition of Palestinians from exploiting areas classified as part of Area C in accordance with the Oslo Agreement, and the decline in external financial support. 

Palestinian officials have made direct demands to the current US administration, including for the speedy and full restoration of financial support directed to Palestine, which was suspended by former President Donald Trump.

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The officials have also asked Washington to work with its partners worldwide to facilitate the flow of financial support from both western and Arab states, which has been blocked for several months, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

A well-informed Palestinian source said that Amr had "promised that the next US move would include a solution to outstanding files, while prioritising the economic issues".

He also gave political reassurances to the Palestinian side and confirmed his administration's commitment to reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem, according to the newspaper.

The Palestinian source revealed that the US envoy did not present any political initiative in a conventional manner, but rather forwarded economic suggestions to the Palestinians and Israelis as "goodwill gestures" that lay the foundation for a later stage.

Saudi Arabia: Floods wreck museum

Heavy torrents in Saudi Arabia caused the collapse of an archaeological museum in the city of Budaiya, sweeping away the artefacts inside, reported the local newspaper, Sabq.

Museum owner Ibrahim al-Damain said that "the floods washed away about 3,000 artefacts, which he had been collecting for the past 20 years".

In a video clip showing the collapse of some houses in Budaiya, Damain explained: "When I noticed that some of the mud buildings in Budaiya are about to collapse I tried to communicate with their owners, but the speed of the torrents and rain washed them away in a few minutes."

Severe torrential rains cut off the road linking Al-Sulayyil, south of Riyadh, and the northern city of Budaiya, in the Al-Aflaj area. A video clip circulated on social media captured the moment when the floods disrupted traffic on the road.

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