Egypt Independent: Egypt-Main news en Meeting between Sisi, Abbas, Netanyahu in Cairo soon: Israeli media <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="ltr">Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth has revealed that Egypt is in the process of arranging a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo soon, Al-Youm Al-Sabea website reported.</p><p dir="ltr">Sisi, according to the newspaper, is pushing for a new phase of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, after Netanyahu rejected the French peace initiative earlier this month. After meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Netanyahu stated: &quot;<span>the only way to advance genuine peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions,&quot; Reuters reported at the time. </span></p><p dir="ltr">Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Palestinian officials as saying that Sisi has considerable clout and his initiative could succeed in realising long talked of peace talks.</p><p dir="ltr">The newspaper ruled out rumors that Netanyahu had rejected Sisi&rsquo;s efforts and rumors that the Israeli Prime Minister had said he was willing to meet Abbas anywhere &mdash; even at the French Elysee Palace.</p><p dir="ltr">In a speech given on May 17, Sisi called on both Palestine and Israel to revive peace talks, stating that a resolution to the Palestinian case would bring resolution to conflicts in the Middle East at large.</p><p dir="ltr">In related news, several Israeli political analysts and experts have warned against appointing the head of far-right Israeli party Yisrael Beytenu, Avigdor Lieberman, as defense minister, as this could have an effect on both Sisi&rsquo;s call for peace and ties between Cairo and Tel Aviv in general.</p> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:24:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2469850 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/28/1755/sisi_and_abbas.jpg Hundreds attend absentee funeral prayer for lost EgyptAir crew <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Hundreds flocked to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy Mosque in the Fifth Settlement, Southeast Cairo, on Monday evening, for an absentee funeral prayer for the lost crew of Thursday&#39;s EgyptAir plane crash.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The crowds of mourners came to offer condolences to the relatives of the crew, some in black mourning clothes, others wearing the official uniform of EgyptAir. Staff who attended in uniform said it was to express support for EgyptAir.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Although staff have been psychologically shaken by the accident, we are trying to carry out our duty to support the airline, said Pilot Saher Hassan, adding that he wore the company&#39;s uniform to the funeral as means of expressing solidarity with the company and the families of the deceased.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another pilot said the airline asked staff to attend in uniform for this reason.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We could have been in the shoes of the victims,&quot; the pilot said, adding that this has provoked a profound sense of solidarity with the bereaved.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Flight attendant Soha Hassan said that even attendants on flights the same evening made a great effort to &quot;carry out their duty,&quot; and found time to offer their condolences to the bereaved relatives.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>Tight security measures were imposed around the mosque and attendees and their cars were inspected by security personnel.</div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/image_38.jpeg" style="width: 674px; height: 485px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/image_39.jpeg" style="width: 674px; height: 485px;" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/image_40.jpeg" style="width: 674px; height: 485px;" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Tue, 24 May 2016 09:51:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2469848 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/24/16030/image.jpeg Egypt prosecutor seeks data from France, Greece on plane crash <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span id="articleText"><span class="focusParagraph">Egypt&#39;s public prosecutor formally requested data on the crashed EgyptAir plane from France and Greece on Monday, as the victims&#39; remains began arriving at a Cairo morgue ready for DNA testing.</span></span></p><p><span id="articleText">EgyptAir flight 804 from Paris to Cairo vanished off radar screens early on Thursday as it entered Egyptian airspace over the Mediterranean. The 10 crew and 56 passengers included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, all believed to be dead.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek asked his French counterpart to hand over documents, audio and visual records on the plane during its stay at Charles de Gaulle airport and until it left French airspace, his office said in a statement.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">He also asked Greek authorities to hand over transcripts of calls between the pilot and Greek air traffic control officials, and for the officials to be questioned over whether the pilot sent a distress signal.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Egyptian officials say they received no mayday call from the pilots before the plane disappeared.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Greek officials say that controllers chatted with the pilot after the plane entered Greek airspace and that he sounded cheerful. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">He thanked them in Greek, they said. When they tried to call him again to hand over to Egyptian air traffic control they got no response. The plane then disappeared from radar.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">French investigators say the plane sent a series of warnings indicating that smoke had been detected on board as well as other possible computer faults shortly before it disappeared.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The signals did not indicate what may have caused smoke, and aviation experts have not ruled out either deliberate sabotage or a technical fault.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said all scenarios were possible and that none were being ruled out. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">He promised a transparent investigation but said it could take a long time.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said on Friday that Greek radar had picked up sharp swings in the jet&#39;s trajectory as it plunged from a cruising altitude to 15,000 feet, then vanished from radar.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">That description of the plane&#39;s last moments has not been confirmed officially by Egyptian officials. The head of Egyptian air navigation services said Egyptian officials did not spot the plane swerving.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;We did not record any form of swerving,&quot; head of National Air Navigation Services Company Ehab Mohieeldin told privately owned local television channel CBC on Monday night. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">He added that Egyptian officials were able to spot the jet on radar for one minute before it disappeared but they were unable to communicate with it.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Ships and planes scouring the sea north of Alexandria found body parts, personal belongings and debris from the Airbus 320, but were still trying to locate two &quot;black box&quot; recorders that could shed light on the cause of Thursday&#39;s crash.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">If recorders are found intact their contents will be studied in Egypt, air accident investigator Captain Hani Galal told CBC, but they will be sent abroad for analysis if found damaged.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The State Security Prosecution will handle the criminal side of the investigation and will examine all debris and remains, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Sunday. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">An Egyptian team formed by the Civil Aviation Ministry is conducting the technical investigation and three officials from France&rsquo;s BEA air accident investigation agency arrived in Cairo on Friday with an expert from Airbus.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">&quot;There were enough body parts to fill one body bag,&quot; a security official who saw the body parts arrive at Zeinhom morgue in Cairo told Reuters. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">Investigators are due to take DNA samples from the families of passengers and crew on Tuesday as the task begins of identifying what few remains have been recovered so far.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Air crash investigation experts say the search teams have around 30 days to listen for pings sent out once every second from beacons attached to the two black boxes. </span></p><p><span id="articleText">While global aviation regulators agreed several years ago to extend the life of such devices to 90 days, their decision will not take effect until 2018.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The crash was the third blow since October to hit Egypt&#39;s travel industry, still reeling from political unrest following the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">A suspected Islamic State bombing brought down a Russian airliner after it took off from Sharm al-Sheikh airport in late October, killing all 224 people on board, and an EgyptAir plane was hijacked in March by a man wearing a fake suicide belt.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Sharm al-Sheikh bombing within hours but a purported statement from the group&#39;s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, distributed on Saturday, made no mention of the crash.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">The October crash devastated Egyptian tourism, a main source of foreign exchange for a country of 80 million people.</span></p><p><span id="articleText">Tourism revenue in the first three months of the year plunged by two-thirds to US$500 million from a year earlier, and the latest incident could crush hopes for a swift recovery.</span></p> Tue, 24 May 2016 07:29:00 +0000 Reuters 2469845 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/05/23/504802/ms804_wreckage.jpg Aswan passengers angry at steep rise in train fares, new 'VIP' services <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Angry citizens in Aswan have criticized the Transport Ministry for converting several air-conditioned trains to a more expensive &quot;VIP-class&quot; service, while simultaneously increasing the price of tickets on trains running the usual first-class and second-class services.</p><p>First-class tickets from Cairo to Aswan have been raised from LE130 to LE235, and second-class tickets from LE67 to LE135.</p><p>Passengers criticized the doubling fares, which they say will hit poor people hard, particularly since so many rely on trains as their main means of long-distance transport.<br /><br />They objected to the decision to designate air-conditioned trains as &quot;VIP&quot;, saying that air-conditioning should be provided on trains of all grades, since travelling long distances without air-conditioning is uncomfortable in hot weather.<br /><br />The long journey between Cairo and Aswan, which takes 14 hours by train, was arduous enough, they said, calling on the transport minister to provide quality transportation at an affordable price.</p><p>Hany Youssef, the campaign coordinator for &quot;Together for Aswan Development&quot;, said residents of Aswan depend heavily on trains to travel north, particularly to Cairo. Plane tickets are too expensive, he said, and covering the 1,000 km journey in a bus is not practical.<br /><br />Youssef called on parliament to intervene, reversing the transport minister&#39;s decision, taking into account the poor, the elderly and those who must travel to Cairo to conduct business.</p><p>In related news, the Egyptian National Railways Authority announced on Monday that it would be adding a new train to its VIP service between Cairo and Aswan.<br /><br />The new train was supplied by the Arab Organization for Industrialization as part of a contract signed with the railway authority for the supply of 212 VIP train wagons.<br /><br />The train is scheduled to depart Cairo for Aswan at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 26, starting its return journey at 10 p.m. the same day.<br /><br />The train will pass through Minya, Malawy, Assiut, Tama, Sohag, Nag Hammad, Qena, Luxor, Esna, Edfo, Koam Ombo, and Aswan stations.</p><p>Several new trains of the same sort were introduced during 2015, aiming to provide high-quality transportation along the length of Egypt, from Alexandria to Aswan.<br /><br /><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></p> Mon, 23 May 2016 12:27:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2469837 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/20/1755/vip_train.jpg