Jordan, Jerusalemites insist on Al-Aqsa status quo

Palestinian worshippers, who refuse to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque compound due to Israel’s new security measures, pray near a main entrance to the religious site in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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Jordan, Jerusalemites insist on Al-Aqsa status quo

AMMAN: The general director of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, has called on Israel to abide by existing understandings and the need to preserve the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The Jordanian Waqf authorities in Amman, the office of King Abdallah and the people of Jerusalem reject any changes to the status quo, Al-Khatib said.
Israel has “unilaterally set up four metal detectors at Lion’s Gate and two at Al-Majles Gate, which is a total violation of the status quo,” he told Arab News.
He added that his staff — comprising more than 300 male and female guards, preachers, muezzins, museum staff and other civil servants working in the mosque — refuse to pass through metal detectors.
“This is our mosque, we’re entrusted to guard it and we won’t accept Israeli impositions on it,” Al-Khatib said.
An attempt to bring in a coffin to be prayed over was halted because Israeli authorities insisted on having the coffin go through metal detectors.
While the call to prayer was made Sunday after the mosque’s 48-hour closure by Israel, most worshippers chose to pray beyond Israeli checkpoints rather than go through the metal detectors.
The Israelis “gave us all the keys (to the mosque gates) except the Lion’s Gate keys, which they’ll give us soon,” Al-Khatib said.
“We’ve changed over 50 locks, and we’ve set up a supervisory committee that will oversee the process of documenting if any materials have been taken or damaged during the 48 hours when we lost control over our own mosque.”
He credited King Abdallah’s call to Israel’s prime minister with the gradual reopening of the mosque.
“As a result of the call by his majesty, there were no gender or age restrictions as to who’s allowed entry to the mosque,” Al-Khatib said.
A 2014 understanding between Jordan, the US and Israel calls for unrestricted worship at Al-Aqsa to all Muslims.


Lebanon’s minister warns over slow formation of government

Lebanon's Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Lebanon’s minister warns over slow formation of government

  • Lebanon is the world’s third-most indebted nation with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150 percent
  • Following May’s election, Lebanon is being run by a caretaker government

BEIRUT: Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Tuesday that Lebanon was not forming a new government fast enough and he had not seen serious headway made on the matter.
Political leaders and foreign donors have said Lebanon, which held a parliamentary election on May 6, needs to establish a government quickly to maintain confidence in the country and get to work on reforms to help an ailing economy.
“It is important for political forces to be aware that time is not on our or anyone’s side. Therefore we urgently need to accelerate...the formation of a new government,” Khalil said in a statement from his office.
“We have not seen serious movement in forming a government so far. As finance minister I repeat my warning and stress the need to speed it up so that the new government can get to work on the source of the problems and work on fixing them.”
Following May’s election, Lebanon is being run by a caretaker government while Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri forms a new Cabinet.
Lebanon is the world’s third-most indebted nation with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150 percent. It climbed from around 130 percent in 2011, before war in neighboring Syria, and the arrival of more than a million refugees, depressed growth and paralyzed government decision-making.
The dire economic situation and unsustainable public debt levels are top priorities for the next government.
The International Monetary Fund has said Lebanon’s debt trajectory is unsustainable and needs immediate action, otherwise debt-to-GDP could hit 180 percent by 2023.