Al-Quds ‘has a very high place among all Arabs’

Palestinian men watching an address given by US President Donald Trump at a cafe in Jerusalem. US President Donald Trump recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, 2017, a historic decision that overturns decades of US policy and risks triggering a fresh spasm of violence in the Middle East. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Al-Quds ‘has a very high place among all Arabs’

RIYADH: US President Donald Trump’s decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem met with a wave of disapproval on Thursday with Saudis across the society condemning the move.
The president made the announcement on Wednesday, reversing US policy of several decades as well as going against the UN consensus of remaining neutral on Jerusalem’s status.
Condemning the unilateral move, Mohammed Alkhunaizi, a senior member of the Shoura Council, told Arab News on Thursday: “We condemn such an illegal decision, this is not acceptable.”
“We in the Kingdom will not accept this, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is one of the holiest places in Islam and has a very high place among all Arabs,” he said.
Majed Abdullah Al-Hedayan, a Saudi analyst and senior legal consultant, told Arab News: “Throughout its history, Jerusalem has been revered by the followers of three religions — Jews, Christians and Muslims — it houses the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall considered holy by the Jews, how can it be declared capital of Israel in this way, which is generating a storm of outrage with leaders from both the Muslim world as well as from the wider international community criticizing the move.”
He said: “Characterized by many economic activities such as tourism (especially religious), industry, trade and agriculture, Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, but the international community did not recognize it as part of Israel.”
Al-Hedayan said: “This is a severe provocation to Muslims all over the world. This move could lead to bloodshed and increase instability in the Middle East.”
Meanwhile, Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), reaffirmed the Kingdom’s permanent support for the State of Palestine with Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital, asserting the high place for Al-Quds for Arabs throughout the ages.
His remarks came during his chairmanship of the Saudi delegation to the 20th session of the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism, which started on Wednesday at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Arab League, SPA reported.
Abdullah Inayat, media relations director at W7 communications, described the move as unwarranted.
He added that such move will only derail the peace process.
 


EU-Arab summit set for February 24-25 in Egypt

Updated 19 October 2018
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EU-Arab summit set for February 24-25 in Egypt

BRUSSELS: European Union and Arab leaders will meet in Egypt in late February for their first summit as part of efforts to forge a new European-African alliance and fight migrant smuggling, officials said Thursday.
European leaders first mentioned the summit in Austria last month as they vowed to intensify talks with Egypt and other North African countries to curb illegal migration.
“The European Council welcomes the holding of the forthcoming first summit between the 28 EU Member States and the League of Arab States, hosted by Egypt on 24-25 February 2019,” the council of EU leaders said after a summit in Brussels.
The Cairo-based Arab League includes North African countries Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco as well as those in the Middle East and Gulf.
EU officials insisted the summit was about more than just migration, but part of a broader push to build closer ties with Africa outlined by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in September.
“It is now much more than about migration and fighting traffickers,” an EU official told reporters.
Juncker urged the EU to strike a “new alliance” with Africa that would create millions of jobs and include a free trade deal.
The Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, hopes the strategy will both showcase its international influence and help stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean.
The EU also wants to boost development in sub-Saharan Africa to ease the poverty that often drives migration.
Brussels has previously struck cooperation deals with both Turkey and Libya, whose coast guard officers are trained by the Europeans to stop migrant sea crossings — despite concerns about conditions in Libyan detention centers.
The deals with the two gateway countries have helped to cut migration to Europe sharply since a 2015 peak, but the bloc wants to expand work with all north African countries.
The leaders called for “strengthening cooperation with countries of origin and transit, particularly in North Africa,” according to the summit’s published conclusions.
“Work with third countries on investigating, apprehending and prosecuting smugglers and traffickers should be intensified,” it said.
EU officials say Egypt has set a high bar in fighting traffickers and smugglers, which could be emulated by other North African countries.
The EU is increasingly focused on bolstering its external borders amid longstanding divisions over redistributing asylum-seekers who make it to Italian and other European shores.
But it is still confronted with the refusal of Hungary and other former communist eastern countries to admit migrants, particularly from Muslim countries.
And Italy’s populist government has this year turned away migrant rescue ships in a bid to force fellow EU countries to share responsibility for them.
The United Nations refugee and migration agencies, the UNHCR and IOM, had this week urged EU leaders to take steps to ensure responsiblities are shared.
They said the debate was so “dangerously toxic” in some countries that it was harder to find common solutions.
Even though fewer people were arriving in Europe, the two agencies said, the rate of people dying in the Mediterranean was increasing. More than 1,700 lives have been lost since January.