Muslims blame Arab disunity for Jerusalem embassy move

An Israeli border guards stands guard outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on August 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2018
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Muslims blame Arab disunity for Jerusalem embassy move

ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia: Muslims at the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia criticized what they described as discordant Arab leaders for failing to block President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem after he recognized the city as Israel’s capital.
It was a reversal of decades of American policy and the embassy opened in May at a high-profile ceremony attended by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the US envoy to the Middle East.
The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — is one of the biggest obstacles to any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The United Nations says the status of the ancient city — whose eastern sector was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war — can only be resolved by negotiations. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek. Israel says Jerusalem is its eternal and indivisible capital.
“This happened with the complicity of the Arab leaders,” 53-year-old Saad Awad from Sudan said on Monday as he walked east of Makkah with more than 2 million fellow Muslims from around the world.
“If the Arab leaders were united and adhering to the Qur’an and the Sunna (Islamic practice based on words and deeds of the Prophet), it would be impossible for the Americans or anyone else to do something like this.”
The five-day ritual, the world’s largest annual gathering of Muslims, is a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied adherent who can afford it.
Dismay among ordinary Arabs at the embassy move has been tinged with anger at regional governments for failing to stop, or even strongly protest against, Trump’s decision last December.
“The Arabs are weak and have not taken a stand on the issue of Jerusalem,” said Algerian pilgrim Hilal Issa, 70.
While Saudi Arabia and its fellow monarchies have previously criticized the embassy decision, they have also welcomed Trump’s harder line against Iran.
King Salman has reassured Arab allies Riyadh would not endorse any peace plan that fails to address Jerusalem’s status or other key issues, Reuters reported last month.
“If the Arabs were united, nobody would have dared make such a move,” Yemeni pilgrim Amr Ahmed Ali said of the embassy transfer. “But God willing, the Arabs will unite, and this city will unite the Arabs and Muslims behind one cause which is the Palestinian cause.”


500,000 children face ‘immediate danger’ in Libya capital: UN

Updated 7 min ago
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500,000 children face ‘immediate danger’ in Libya capital: UN

TRIPOLI: Half a million children are in “immediate danger” in Libya’s capital Tripoli due to fighting, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF said on Monday.
Clashes that broke out between rival militias in late August had killed at least 115 people and wounded nearly 400 by Saturday night, according to Libya’s health ministry.
UNICEF said more than 1,200 families were displaced in the past 48 hours as the clashes intensified in southern Tripoli before pausing on Monday.
That put the total number of people displaced by the recent fighting at over 25,000, half of whom were children, it said.
The UN agency’s Middle East and North Africa director, Geert Cappelaere, said children were paying a “heavy toll” and were increasingly being recruited by armed groups.
“We see children being prevented from going to school, we see children not having the vaccination that they urgently need,” he said.
Those whose parents came to Libya with the hope of migrating to Europe by sea suffered doubly, said Cappelaere.
“They are already facing dire living conditions, many of them are held in detention,” a situation made worse by “the violence that is happening today,” he said.
UNICEF also said schools are increasingly being used to shelter displaced families, which is likely to delay the start of the academic year beyond October 3.
It said residents are facing food, power and water shortages, adding that the clashes had exacerbated the plight of migrants.
“Hundreds of detained refugees and migrants, including children, were forced to move because of violence. Others are stranded in centers in dire conditions,” Cappelaere said.
Despite a UN-brokered cease-fire on September 4, fighting broke out again last week in southern districts of the capital.
The clashes have pitted armed groups from Tarhuna and Misrata against Tripoli militias nominally controlled by Libya’s UN-backed unity government.
The Libyan capital has been at the center of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising.
The country’s unity government has struggled to exert its control in the face of a multitude of militias and a rival administration based in eastern Libya.