Middle East Briefing: Talks, then ‘pogrom’ in Palestine | News

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Israeli settlers run through Palestinian towns, the Syrian president finds friendship with several Arab states, and attacks African migrants in Tunisia. Here’s your roundup of our coverage, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Al Jazeera Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor.

Backed by the United States, Israeli and Palestinian officials met at a resort in Jordan on Sunday in an attempt to reach an agreement to end more than a year of intense violence. In the end, both sides said they had agreed to work closely together, to bring about “de-escalation on the ground”. And, according to joint reports, Israel even said it would halt the construction of any new settlement units in the West Bank.

Or, at least, that was the optimistic reading.

On the ground, the reality of the situation in the West Bank was something very different. There, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli settlers who were traveling in a small Palestinian town called Huwara, just south of Nablus. Then, around 400 settlers took it upon themselves to seek “revenge” – by setting Huwara, and several other villages, on fire. One Palestinian was killed, hundreds were injured, and dozens of cars and buildings were destroyed. To make matters worse, videos appear to show that Israeli soldiers were, at best, unable to do anything to stop the settlers, or at best worse, standing idly during the rampage.

[READ: Settler violence forcing out Bedouins in the West Bank]

In the wake of the attack, several Israeli politicians, including government ministers, expressed strong support for the settlers’ actions, with the far-right finance minister going so far as to said that Huwara should be “ousted” by “the state of Israel. “. On the other hand, the Israeli general called the attack on Palestinians a “pogrom”.

And, as for stopping any new settlements? Well, just a few hours after the statement was released, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied that would happen.

Assad in from the cold?

Damascus has received many visitors this week. Initially, it was a delegation of parliamentarians from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Libya, Oman and the UAE. The latter was the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since 2011, the year a major uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began, sparking a civil war that came close to getting rid of e.

The way in which al-Assad and his government responded to the revolution, especially the massacres and human rights abuses, contributed to the Syrian leader being frozen out of the Arab diplomatic sphere. His close ties with Iran, a major competitor in several Gulf Arab countries in particular, helped to strengthen the animosity.

And yet, several of these same governments have been taking over al-Assad for years now, because it was ever more obvious that he was going to keep power. Last month’s devastating earthquakes then provided an opportunity. With the death toll now standing at over 6,000 people in Syria (a number that continues to rise), the need for help that has been created has also created an opening for those who want to to maintain their friendship with the one-time revolution, with humanity providing a useful defense against any critics. But, as this analysis explains, politics and self-interest loom large.

Anti-black hate speech in Tunisia

Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, does not seem particularly concerned with accusations that he is an authoritarian. If anything, his speeches seem to be getting more and more fiery. In one, he turned his concern to immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, ordering the deportation of anyone without documents, and saying that immigration from other parts of Africa is a an attempt to transform Tunisia’s Arab and Muslim identity.

Saied’s comments have been widely described as racist, and activists in Tunisia have organized rallies to denounce them. At the same time, the African Union has condemned Tunisia, and has warned it to “stop racist speech”.

[READ: Tunisia judge imprisons politicians, businessman amid crackdown]

And now for something different

Artificial intelligence is the talk of the internet right now, with companies racing to unveil their new search bots, and journalists like me worried that ChatGPT is going to take our jobs away. The power of AI, of course, extends far beyond list writing. In Jordan, one farmer engineer has developed a smart farming method that uses AI to detect pests in date palms instead of spraying pesticides indiscriminately. Amazingly, he discovers tiny sounds inside trees to find out where the plague is, before it’s too late.

In short

Twitter under fire for censoring Palestinian public figures | Cholera outbreak in northwest Syria kills two | Why are schoolgirls secretly poisoned in Iran? | Iran expels two German diplomats in retaliation against Germany | Sudanese protester killed in demonstration against military rule | Turkey’s Erdogan indicates that elections will be held on May 14 | Rights groups, UN experts express concern over Bahrain arrest | Turkey investigates 612 people for earthquake violations | Syrian refugees in Turkey against returning to earthquake-affected areas | Oman joins Saudi Arabia in opening airspace to Israeli carriers |

Suffering in Darfur

This week marks 20 years since the war began in the Darfur region of western Sudan. According to UN estimates, 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, and 2.5 million were displaced. An agreement in 2020, between the government and rebel groups, could mean that the worst phase of the fighting is over, but there are still incidents of violence. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, a professor of politics at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, recalls how the conflict began, its period of international visibility, and what he argues are agreements who did little to help the millions of victims of the war.

Report of the week

“I apologize to the people on behalf of myself and all my colleagues because we could not keep Pirouz alive. “ | Amir Moradi, head of the Central Tehran Veterinary Hospital, where doctors had been trying to save the Asiatic cheetah cub, Pirouz, who had captured the hearts of millions of Iranians before he died of acute kidney failure this week. The endangered animal was one of three cubs adopted by humans after being rejected by their mother. The other two puppies have also died. The plight of the puppies has been used by many Iranians to highlight broader issues in the country, such as environmental issues and mismanagement.

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