Jordanian king says status of Jerusalem must be resolved to avoid ‘catastrophe’

Updated 25 January 2018
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Jordanian king says status of Jerusalem must be resolved to avoid ‘catastrophe’

LONDON: King Abdullah of Jordan told the World Economic Forum in Davos that Jerusalem “could be a city that brings us together or it could create aggression and violence that we haven’t seen before.”

He was speaking in response to a question linked to President Donald Trump’s decision that the US will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with Vice President Mike Pence saying recently that the US Embassy would be ready to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. 

Trump’s controversial decision has sparked protests by Palestinians and Muslims throughout the world.

King Abdullah said Jerusalem had to be part of a comprehensive peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians — a stance backed by the EU and by all American presidents before Trump.

He said: “(Trump’s decision) has created a backlash. It has frustrated the Palestinians as they think there isn't an honest broker.”

However, King Abdullah added: “I would like to reserve judgement because we are still waiting for the Americans to come out with their plan. But tremendous sympathy to the way the Palestinians are feeling. Jerusalem is such an emotional subject for everybody.”

He continued: “Jerusalem is a city that ends up dividing us, which I think will be catastrophic for mankind, or is it a city of hope that brings us together.”

He said it was eternal to Jews, Christians and Muslims and asked the audience to remember Pope Francis's message at Christmas, hoping that Jerusalem would be dealt with as part of a negotiated settlement.

“This is a city that could create tremendous problems for us in the future. It could be a city that brings us together or it could create violence that we haven't seen before,” said King Abdullah.

The king also told the meeting of world leaders in Davos that a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict would not be acceptable, but the alternative is not as many envisaged.

“The two-state solution the way that we envisage is not the same two-state solution that (Israel and the US) are looking at,” he said.

But he said he did not expect a one-state solution to emerge, as some have proposed.

“I can’t envisage a one-state solution that would be acceptable,” he said.

King Abdullah also spoke about the Arab Spring, saying that it would eventually give rise to pan-Arab sentiment among citizens of the region.

“Arab nationalism ended in the Arab Spring,” he said.

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Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

Updated 19 July 2019
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Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

  • Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds
  • Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for 13 days, a day after he was arrested in a case involving a multibillion-rupee liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract to Qatar.
Abbasi, who is also the vice president of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) party, was presented before Judge Bashir Ahmed of an accountability court on Friday morning. The case has been adjourned until Aug. 1.
Speaking to journalists before his appearance at the court, Abbasi called his arrest “an attack on democracy.”
Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds in the import of LNG that the agency says caused a loss of about $2 billion to the national exchequer. He is also being investigated for allegedly granting a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal to a “favored” company. Abbasi rejects the allegations.
PML-N Sen. Mushahid Ullah Khan said Pakistan was facing “the worst energy crisis of its kind” when his party came to power after the 2013 general election, and the LNG deal was quickly finalized with Qatar to overcome it.
“The industry was shutting down with thousands of people getting unemployed, but this LNG supply helped us reverse the tide,” he told Arab News.
Khan said Pakistan’s LNG contract with Qatar was “the cheapest possible deal” the country could have gotten, and rubbished allegations of corruption and kickbacks.
“If there is something wrong in the contract, why is this government not reviewing it?” Khan asked.
Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar under a 15-year agreement at 13.37 percent of Brent crude price. It is a government-to-government agreement and the price can only be reviewed after 10 years of the contract.
“It is the worst example of political victimization by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government,” PML-N Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq said on Friday after the accountability court remanded Abbasi in NAB custody. “Shahid Khaqan served the nation with dignity and did not commit any wrongdoings,” Haq added.
Abbasi was arrested on his way to Lahore to address a news conference along with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday.
He served as federal minister for petroleum in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he finalized an LNG import deal with Qatar. Abbasi then served for less than a year as prime minister following the resignation of Sharif in 2017.
On Thursday, Pakistan opened technical bids of four international companies for the supply of 400 million cubic feet per day of LNG for a period of 10 years to fulfil the country’s rising energy requirements.
Officials told Arab News that a Qatari delegation, led by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in June, resented that Islamabad had ignored its lowest offer of 11.05 percent of Brent for the fresh deal, and instead floated tenders seeking provision of LNG for 10 years from international companies.
The secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy said: “Yes, this is true. Qatar expressed its annoyance, but we are following our rules. Qatar has not submitted its bid to participate in the process.”
Khan won power last year vowing to root out corruption among what he describes as a venal political elite, and views the probes into veteran politicians — including Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari — as long overdue.
The NAB’s campaign has become a topic of fierce political debate in Pakistan, and its focus on the new government’s political foes has prompted accusations of a one-sided purge. The government denies targeting political opponents.
Commenting on Abbasi’s case, former NAB prosecutor Munir Sadiq said the anti-corruption watchdog would file a reference against Abbasi in an accountability court for prosecution, but only if it found irrefutable evidence against him.
“This case is now at the evidence-collection stage, and the NAB will file a reference in the court if it finds irrefutable corruption evidence against Abbasi during the investigation,” Sadiq said.
He added that any inquiry against Abbasi would be shelved after 90 days if corroborating evidence of corruption was not found.
“If a weak case will be filed against the accused, then he will surely receive support from the court,” Sadiq said.