Palestinians recall envoy after rally with radical Pakistan cleric

Hafiz Saeed, the head of the hard-line Jamaat-ud-Dawa movement, addresses an anti-US and Israel an earlier rally in Lahore on December 17. (AFP)
Updated 31 December 2017
0

Palestinians recall envoy after rally with radical Pakistan cleric

ISLAMABAD: The Palestinians have withdrawn their envoy to Pakistan after he appeared at a rally with a radical cleric linked to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Palestinian envoy Walid Abu Ali shared the stage with Hafiz Saeed, the head of the hard-line Jamaat-ud-Dawa movement, at Friday’s rally, which was held to protest US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The rally in Rawalpindi, attended by thousands, was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, an alliance of religious parties dominated by Saeed’s group. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is believed to be a front for Lashker-e-Taiba, a militant group that fights Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir, and which was blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people.
Saeed, the founder of Lashker-e-Taiba, is wanted by the US, which has offered a $10 million reward for his arrest, but Pakistan has refused extradition requests and allows him to operate relatively freely. He was recently placed under house arrest for 11 months but was released after a court ruled in his favor.
Saeed denies involvement in the 2008 attacks, and Pakistan says India has not provided enough evidence to charge him. US officials have long accused Pakistan of harboring extremists, allegations denied by Islamabad.
In a statement Saturday addressed to India, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the envoy’s participation “in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism” was “an unintended mistake, but not justified.” It said the envoy has been recalled.
India had lodged a protest with the Palestinians earlier Saturday, calling the envoy’s association with Saeed “unacceptable.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry defended the envoy, saying it welcomed his “active participation in events organized to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.”
Near-daily rallies have been held in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, a move seen as siding with the Jewish state against the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.


Western Wall stone crashes down in Jerusalem

Updated 1 min 22 sec ago
0

Western Wall stone crashes down in Jerusalem

  • Jerusalem authorities restricted access to one of Judaism's holiest sites on Monday after a massive stone block from the Western Wall fell
  • To Muslems it is the Haram al-Sharif compound, the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and home to the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock

JERUSALEM: Jerusalem authorities restricted access to one of Judaism's holiest sites on Monday after a massive stone block from the Western Wall fell to the ground below, narrowly missing a worshipper.
Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement "the stone, weighing 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds), fell close to a woman who was praying... without hitting her".
He described the fact that nobody was harmed in the incident as "a great miracle".
The statement said that Barkat visited the scene with the city engineer and safety officials, who declared the spot dangerous and closed it to the public pending further inspection.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of Jewish worshippers thronged the main, gender-segregated Western Wall esplanade for annual prayers mourning the razing of the biblical-era temples.
Monday's incident occurred at a less-visited part of the wall, where men and women are permitted to pray together contrary to Orthodox Jewish practice.
The Western Wall, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, is the holiest place at which Jews are allowed to pray.
They believe it is what remains of a supporting wall of their biblical second temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Immediately above it is the flashpoint shrine known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest in Judaism, revered as the spot where the two biblical Jewish temples once stood.
To Muslems it is the Haram al-Sharif compound, the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and home to the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.