King Salman warns against embassy move to Jerusalem

People walk around a street in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Updated 06 December 2017
0

King Salman warns against embassy move to Jerusalem

JEDDAH/ANKARA: Saudi King Salman told US President Donald Trump that any decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem before a permanent peace settlement is reached will inflame the feelings of Muslims, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

King Salman had received a telephone call from Trump about developments in the region and the world.
The king asserted to Trump that any American announcement regarding the situation of Jerusalem prior to reaching a permanent settlement “will harm peace talks and increase tensions in the area,” the SPA said.
It quoted King Salman as saying that Saudi Arabia supported the Palestinian people and their historic rights and asserted that “such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque...”
Earlier, the Saudi Cabinet expressed deep concern over such reports.
The step, if taken, will contradict the principle of not affecting ongoing negotiations, the Saudi Cabinet said after the weekly meeting chaired by King Salman.
The Cabinet extended firm support for the Palestinian people in establishing their state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
It insisted that the US take into consideration the grave and negative consequences of the step to avoid harming its ability to continue efforts to achieve a just solution for the Palestinian cause in line with the relevant international references and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Later on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump told Arab leaders that he intends to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdallah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who all received phone calls from Trump on Tuesday, joined a mounting chorus of voices saying that any unilateral US move on Jerusalem could unleash turmoil.
Trump notified Abbas “of his intention to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.
Abbas, in response, “warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world” and also appealed to the Pope and the leaders of Russia, France and Jordan to intervene.
The Jordanian monarch told Trump that moving the embassy would have “dangerous repercussions” and would obstruct US efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to a palace statement.
Egypt’s El-Sisi cautioned Trump against “taking measures that would undermine the chances of peace” and complicate matters in the Middle East, a presidential statement released in Cairo said.
None of the leaders’ statements said whether Trump, who was also due to talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, specified the timing of an embassy move.
But US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump would sign a national security waiver — as have his predecessors — keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv for another six months but would commit to expediting a move. It was unclear, however, whether he would set a date, according to Reuters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey may cut diplomatic ties with Israel if Washington goes ahead with the move.
“You cannot take such a step. Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” he said, adding that such a decision would be a violation of international law, and “a big blow to the conscience of humanity.”
Erdogan said Turkey would call for an immediate meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which Turkey currently chairs, to oppose the move.
Experts think the potential fallout from recognition of Jerusalem will further complicate not only Turkey-Israel relations, by obstructing the ongoing efforts for rapprochement process, but will also have serious repercussions throughout the region.
“Such a decision would be ill-timed and controversial in the sense that provoking tension between the Arab world and Israel will not only undermine US efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace but also damage the fragile cooperation between Israel and the Gulf countries against Iran,” Selin Nasi, an Istanbul-based analyst of Israel-Turkey relations, told Arab News, while noting that Turkey’s capacity to prevent the US from recognizing Jerusalem is limited.
 


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
0

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.