Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 May 2008
Issue No. 896
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Peace talks with Bush

PRESIDENT Hosni Mubarak on Saturday will host visiting US President George W Bush for talks on the prospects of a framework peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis before the US administration's tenure ends this year.

Bush will be arriving in Sharm El- Sheikh on the third leg of a Middle East trip that starts in Israel for the commemoration of 60 years of its creation on the territories of historic Palestine. Bush's second leg is in Saudi Arabia where he is expected to discuss with King Abdullah the future of oil prices and US military presence in the region.

While in Sharm El-Sheikh, Bush will also meet King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who will not receive Bush in Ramallah to avoid the overlap of the US president's visit to celebrate the creation of Israel which coincides with six decades of the Palestinian Nakba.

Official Egyptian sources say Cairo will request Bush to make an announcement on the Palestinian right to statehood. Cairo is also expecting Bush to support Egyptian efforts to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza first, then Ramallah.

Egypt has tentatively managed to launch the truce but no official Israeli commitment has been offered. General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman was scheduled to visit Israel last week to finalise the details with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The visit was delayed due to Olmert's involvement in legal charges.

Suleiman is still planning to visit Israel to receive a commitment on the truce that Hamas said was crucial.

Egypt had suggested to Olmert that he visit Sharm El-Sheikh around the same time as Bush's visit, to allow for a peace summit composed of the US, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan. The Israeli prime minister has so far declined.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to arrive in Sharm El- Sheikh this coming Sunday to take part in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East. Livni is planning to meet Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and Suleiman.

Rest released

THE REMAINING defendants detained in the wake of the 6 April general strike have been released.

The 13 were accused of gathering en masse, inciting violence and harming public interest.

Last week, 10 people who took part in the demonstrations were set free.

Relatives of the defendants and media personnel thronged the headquarters of the prosecution office from the early hours of Monday morning prior to the release of the defendants by Cairo's central prosecution. One defendant, Abdel-Rahman Lutfi, was reportedly taken to hospital after his health deteriorated.

Licence expired

THE HEARING of a lawsuit filed against Nader Gohar, owner of the Cairo News Company, has been postponed to 26 May until the defendant, who is currently in Paris, is informed.

Gohar is charged with transmitting news footage to a number of foreign satellite channels without renewing his licence from the Egyptian Radio and Television Union. He could face as much as five years in jail. The prosecutor-general on Monday referred the lawsuit to the Boulaq Misdemeanour Court.

The prosecution ordered a search of Gohar's company.

Five satellite dishes and a truck used in live broadcasting were impounded.

It is believed Gohar allowed Al- Jazeera satellite channel to use his station to air footage of protesters tearing down billboard posters of President Hosni Mubarak during food riots in the Nile Delta industrial city of Mahala on 6 and 7 April. Al-Jazeera's live broadcasts depend heavily on Gohar's company.

Professors over 70

PROFESSORS have called upon Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Hani Helal to honour his pledge and appoint professors over the age of 70 at faculties and institutes.

A statement issued by the committee in charge of following up recommendations of the fourth general conference of university professors stressed that professors should receive all their financial rights without being assigned extra work.

The statement came in response to the amendment of Article 123 of the universities law recently submitted to parliament by Helal.

Under the terms of the amendment, which launched wide-scale protests, professors over 70 may be appointed at faculties and institutes by a decree issued by the university president and a request by the faculty dean or the institute head.

Professors will be offered a bonus that equals 80 per cent of what they previously received before reaching the age of retirement. In return, the article said, they will be assigned specific tasks to help upgrade university education.

Heads of the universities' teaching staff clubs, who took part in the ministerial committees formed to draft the amendment, complained that the amended article in its current form was completely different from the one previously agreed upon.

Compiled by: Mona El-Nahhas

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