Maronite patriarch invited to Saudi Arabia

Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi
Updated 03 November 2017
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Maronite patriarch invited to Saudi Arabia

BEIRUT: Waleed Bukhari, the Saudi chargé d’affaires in Lebanon, said he handed Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi an invitation on Wednesday to visit Saudi Arabia and meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“It will be one of the most important official visits to the Kingdom. It will be historical,” Bukhari said, adding that it will take place in the next few weeks.
Lebanese daily An-Nahar wrote: “The timing and content of the invitation were surprising, as it will be the first visit by a Maronite patriarch to Saudi Arabia, a country that has no Christian churches and parishes.”
Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, who returned from the Kingdom on Wednesday, said during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday: “Saudi Arabia is very keen on Lebanon’s stability.”
Lebanese MP Boutros Harb, who is close to Al-Rahi, welcomed the invitation. “It’s an attempt to strengthen Lebanese-Saudi relations and Christian-Saudi relations,” Harb told Arab News.
“It shows that Saudi Arabia ignores all sectarian differences and wants to establish new ties between King Salman and the Maronite patriarchate.”
The mufti of Tripoli and northern Lebanon, Sheikh Malik Al-Shaar, also hailed the invitation. “Saudi Arabia is the first Arab country to embrace all Arab countries,” he told Arab News.
“The Kingdom is taking care of Lebanon with all its religions and communities, as well as the Lebanese cause and internal civil peace. It supports every step that comes within the framework of uniting Lebanese communities and groups.”
The invitation “confirms that Saudi Arabia has opened its arms to all parties, communities and active actors in Lebanon,” Al-Shaar said.
“It’s now time to meet and discuss everything related to Lebanon in order to preserve the Christian presence in the East.”
Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) said: “The visit has been in preparation for the past four or five months.”
Ali bin Saeed Al-Awwad Asiri, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, who is close to Al-Rahi, reportedly played a major role in arranging the visit. Sources said the invitation reflects greater openness in the Kingdom.
During the visit, Al-Rahi will convey a vision of “a united Lebanon with both its Christian and Muslim populations,” the NNA said.


Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

Updated 13 min 37 sec ago
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Israel destroys house of Palestinian charged with killing soldier

  • Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-story Abu Humaid house and destroyed it
  • Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014

EL AMARI REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank: Israeli forces on Saturday demolished the family home of a Palestinian charged with killing an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, the military and witnesses said.
Israel says Islam Abu Humaid, 32, threw a 40 pound (18 kg) marble plate from a rooftop, killing an Israeli special forces sergeant, Ronen Lubarsky, 20, during a May arrest raid in El Amari refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israeli forces arrived at the El Amari camp before dawn on Saturday, sealed off the four-story Abu Humaid house and destroyed it, the military said in a statement.
The Abu Humaid family home has been destroyed before and rebuilt. Two other Abu Humaid sons are in Israeli custody, charged with the killings of five Israelis, and another two face lengthy incarceration for serious security offenses.
A sixth Abu Humaid son was killed by Israeli forces in 1994 after himself being involved in a deadly ambush against an Israeli intelligence officer in the West Bank.
According to the indictment against him, Islam Abu Humaid told interrogators that he wanted to avenge the injury of one of his brothers in a previous Israeli army raid.
“What can we do? This is an enemy who thinks that by doing such actions they will terrorize us and make us fear them,” said Islam’s mother, Latifa Abu Humaid.
“On the contrary, our animosity becomes stronger, and with it our perseverance and strength.”
Israeli rights groups have criticized family-home demolitions of Palestinian attackers as acts of vengeance and collective punishment.
Israel’s Supreme Court has largely upheld the demolition policy. Israeli officials have termed it both punitive and a deterrence to potential attackers.
“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will continue operating in order to thwart terror and maintain security in the area,” the military said.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the demolition.
Tensions flared this week in the West Bank with a string of Palestinian attacks that killed an Israeli baby and two Israeli soldiers and Israeli forces shot dead four suspected Palestinian assailants.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that in response to the attacks, slated demolitions would be sped up.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.