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Arabic press review: Egypt seeks guarantees from Israel on Gaza ceasefire commitments

Kuwaiti athlete pulls out of international karate competition in protest at Israeli opponent, and Singaporean foreign minister lauds deepening relations with Saudi Arabia
Sheikh Raed Salah (C), leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, attends a demonstration in solidarity with prisoner Khalil Awawdeh on 31 August 2022 (AFP)

Egypt urges Israel to uphold Gaza ceasefire commitments, including prisoner release

A high-ranking Israeli military delegation visited Egypt last week to contain Cairo's resentment over Israel reneging on its commitments to the ceasefire deal reached with Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip under Egyptian mediation, said an official familiar with the matter.

"The visit follows another made by the head of the Shin Bet [Israel's internal intelligence agency], Ronen Bar on 21 August," to resolve the tension, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper quoted the Egyptian official as saying.

Following an Israeli military operation on the Gaza Strip last month, the Islamic Jihad movement said it had reached an understanding with Israel to release Palestinian prisoners Khalil al-Awawdeh and Bassam al-Saadi, a senior PIJ figure from Jenin, as part of a ceasefire agreement. 

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Israel, however, had not fulfilled its part of the agreement that was brokered by Cairo and which ended a three-day onslaught on the Gaza Strip that killed 44 people, including 15 children.  

During the meetings in Cairo, however, Egyptian and Israeli officials agreed on the release of Awawdeh as a first step, after he suspended his nearly six-month hunger strike last Wednesday, the official said.

"Provided that this would be followed by the release of Saadi after the new legislative elections in Israel in November," he said.

Awawdeh is now set to be released from detention on 2 October, according to the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Office (Addameer).

"The understandings reached during the meetings were met with Egyptian satisfaction," the official said, adding that Cairo had received clear guarantees that Saadi will also be released.

"It received the guarantees from the security services in Israel and not from the current government out of fear that any changes in the government [following the elections] might [result in] Israel breaking its commitment again." 

Kuwaiti athlete withdraws from world karate championship

Kuwaiti karate competitor Muhammad Mishaal al-Otaibi withdrew from a world karate championship to avoid competing against an Israeli athlete in solidarity with Palestinians and in rejection of Arab normalisation with Israel, according to a report published by Arabi 21.

Otaibi's withdrawal sparked a wide reaction online, with social media users supporting his decision. 

Otaibi "has proven that he is a true hero and deserves to be commended", one user wrote on Twitter, while many other commentators praised the Kuwaiti people who have long supported the Palestinian cause.

Kuwaiti athletes have on several occasions refused to confront Israeli competitors in line with Kuwait's official position on normalisation with Israel.

Last May, the Kuwaiti Paralympic Committee announced the withdrawal of Kuwaiti player Kholoud al-Mutairi from an international wheelchair fencing championship organised in Thailand after she declined to compete against an Israeli.

Likewise, the player on the Kuwaiti national chess team, Bader al-Hajri, refused to confront an Israeli in the Sunway International Chess Championship in Spain.

Last year, the Kuwaiti parliament unanimously approved a draft law prohibiting normalisation with Israel.

According to Kuwaiti law: "Israel is a hostile state, and natural and legal persons are prohibited from concluding agreements or deals with bodies or persons residing in Israel or belonging to it through their nationality or working for its interest or benefit.”

Singapore, Saudi Arabia heading towards technological integration

Relations between Singapore and Saudi Arabia are expanding on many levels and are heading fast towards digital and technological integration, Singapore's  foreign ministersaid in an interview with Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Vivian Balakrishnan said Saudi Arabia is Singapore’s second largest trading partner in the Middle East, with bilateral trade in 2021 amounting to over $6.8bn, and the two countries have been cooperating in trade, investment and education.

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Balakrishnan commended the rapid and dynamic development that Saudi Arabia is witnessing, which has provided many opportunities that led to the launching of the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee (SSJC), last December.

The SSJC is a major cooperation platform through which Singapore and the Saudi kingdom aspire to deepen cooperation in the fields of transport, logistic services, digital economy and energy.

"With the launch of digital finance in both Singapore and Saudi Arabia, we are discussing a memorandum of cooperation, which will be signed soon, to enhance partnership in the fields of the digital economy, emerging technologies and e-government, and we are pleased that Saudi Arabia has adopted the Smart Industry Readiness Index developed by Singapore," Balakrishnan said.

The foreign minister also said the two countries will work together to face future challenges posed by climate change, with Saudi Arabia having pledged to cut its carbon emissions to net zero by 2060.

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

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