Jordan steps up support of Jerusalemites

The Jordanian government has taken steps to ease the plight of Palestinians living in the country and to bolster the civil defense guards at Al-Aqsa Mosque - pictured. (AFP)
Updated 05 September 2018
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Jordan steps up support of Jerusalemites

AMMAN: The Jordanian government has taken steps to ease the plight of Palestinians living in the country and to bolster the civil defense guards at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Wasfi Kilani, director of the Hashemite Fund for Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Arab News that the actions come as part of a combined effort to support Jerusalemites.
“With instructions from His Majesty, we have endeavored to provide administrative support to Jerusalemites by reducing passport fees by a third, and by increasing the number of guards and administrators of the Jordanian waqf in Al-Aqsa Mosque to 1,000,” Kilani said.
Fawaz Shahwan, head of Jordan’s Passport Department, told Arab News that the Cabinet has accepted recommendations to reduce passport fees and allow Jerusalem’s Palestinians to renew their passports without the burden of travel to Amman.
“Now a Palestinian in Jerusalem can go the nearest Jordanian waqf office to apply and the approved passport will be delivered to his or her East Jerusalem home,” he said.
Shahwan confirmed that the passport fees have been reduced from 200 Jordanian dinars ($280) to JD50, the same fee paid by Jordanians.
An agreement between the Jordanian Postal Service and the Wasel Package Delivery Co. will ensure new and renewed passports are delivered to Palestinians in their East Jerusalem homes, he told Arab News
In another step to bring Jordanians and Palestinians closer, the Jordanian army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Freihat, launched a program funding and coordinating the travel of about 24 Jordanian military officers and their families to Christian holy places in Palestine.
Gen. Emad Haddad led a delegation of Christian army officers to Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem.
Haddad told Arab News that the three-day visit and was made in parallel with the participation of Muslim officers in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi holy places.
“Our visit was unique and emotional. People were moved by this positive initiative that showed equality in the Jordanian armed forces and contributed to Palestinian-Jordanian brotherly relations,” he said.
Haddad said that a welcome by the delegation’s Palestinian counterparts in Bethlehem was especially moving. “We received an excellent welcome as we visited the Church of the Nativity and met with fellow Palestinians.”
Naser Tahboub, professor at Jordan University’s Prince Hussein School of International Studies, told Arab News that the Jordanian government’s efforts will help relieve the burden on Palestinians in Jerusalem. “These actions follow earlier actions by the late King Hussein and the continuous efforts of King Abdullah to support Jerusalemites and boost their steadfastness.”
The Jordanian moves to boost relations with Jerusalem and its residents come at a time when the Trump administration is attempting to take Jerusalem “off the negotiating table.”
Jerusalemites interviewed by Arab News welcomed the moves, saying they would contribute to the steadfastness of the people of the holy city.
Khaleel Assali, editor of the Jerusalem-based website Akhbar El-Balad, told Arab News that the actions of the Jordanian government will strengthen the morale of Palestinians.
“With so many placing Jerusalem’s Palestinians under siege, it is a scent of fresh air coming from the East that gives people hope,” he said.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 23 May 2019
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Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.