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Arabic press review: Egypt mediates to prevent Palestine-Israel escalation

Meanwhile, UN official says only four percent of Turkey's earthquake needs have been met and Lebanon's Central Bank governor charged with embezzlement
Mourners carry bodies of Palestinians killed earlier in a raid by Israeli forces on the occupied-West Bank city of Nablus, during their funeral procession on 22 February 2023 (AFP)

Egypt mediates to stop escalation between Israel and Palestinian resistance

Egypt has been holding "intensive talks" with Palestinian factions in recent days to prevent an escalation after Israel's killing of 11 Palestinians on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, according to a report by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

"The Egyptian mediator tried to persuade the Palestinian factions, especially from Gaza, not to escalate in response to the raid on Nablus. It also tried to convince them that the continued firing of rockets could push Israel to launch a military operation in the Strip," the report said, citing informed sources.

Israeli forces kill 11 Palestinians in 'merciless' Nablus raid
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"The leaders of the resistance informed the Egyptians that the 'unity of regions' principle cannot be waived and the operation of launching rockets will continue and may develop into other qualitative operations," the newspaper added.

Palestinian resistance factions early on Thursday launched missiles towards the Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Israeli air forces responded by bombing sites within the beseiged enclave.

The sources said Egypt has renewed its request to the US to put pressure on Israel to stop the escalation of violence from its side. Cairo also repeated its appeal to the Islamic Jihad movement not to escalate. The Egyptians are deeply concerned about the possibility of an armed confrontation this year. 

The sources emphasised that "Egypt well understands that if the situation deteriorates in the West Bank, it will ignite Gaza as well".

They added that some leaders of Palestinian factions may be due to visit Cairo after an invitation by officials in the General Intelligence Service, which oversees mediation efforts.

Four percent of Turkey's earthquake needs have been met

Only four percent of the amount of money required to support Turkey to overcome the repercussions of the devastating earthquake that struck on 6 February has been collected, while approximately 26 percent of the amount required to support Syria has been secured, according to a UN official. 

The UN recently launched a humanitarian appeal to collect $1 billion to help the people affected by the earthquake in Turkey, after it launched an earlier appeal to collect $397 million for the relief of those affected in Syria.

Turkey earthquake: Reconstruction cost estimated at $45bn
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"We appeal to the international community to show solidarity and provide generous support," the assistant spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sherine Yassin, told the Arabi21 website.

"The disaster is horrific, and the needs are great; it requires the efforts and support of all the international community without exception."

Yassin expressed her understanding of the criticism levelled at the UN due to the delay in the arrival of aid into Syria, saying: "We understand the extent of pain and frustration, and we realise the difficulty of the situation. We do not blame people for their feelings."

"This disaster suddenly struck the region; the infrastructure was damaged, which impeded the rapid entry of aid into the areas located in northwestern Syria," she said. "After making sure that the roads were passable, we sought with all our energy and with unremitting efforts to resume the entry of aid. And then the UN teams came from all agencies to areas affected by earthquakes. They are working daily to deliver aid as soon as possible."

Lebanon's Central Bank governor charged with embezzlement

The governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, is facing charges of corruption, including money laundering and embezzlement of public funds.

According to a report published by Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, the charges brought against Salameh and his brother, Raja, are the result of an investigation that lasted for 18 months into whether they had embezzled more than $300 million from the Central Bank of Lebanon between 2002 and 2015.

The Public Prosecutor in Beirut, judge Raja Hamoush, brought several charges against Salameh, his brother, and his assistant, including "embezzlement of public funds, illicit enrichment, and tax evasion". After that, he referred them to the first investigating judge in Beirut, requested an interrogated and the issuance of the necessary judicial warrants against them.

Salameh quickly denied the charges: "As I previously announced, I am innocent of these charges... I respect the laws and the judicial system, and I will abide by the procedures, and as you know, the accused is innocent until proven guilty.”

A judicial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that this case emerged in connection with correspondence between the public prosecution in Lebanon and the European judiciary, which opened investigations on suspicion of money laundering as a result of transfers "whose source is suspicious" allegedly sent by Salameh and his brother to European banks.

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

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