Jordanian mayor apologizes for helping Israeli tourists

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Ibrahim Karim Karaki organized a day-long tour for the visitors during the Jewish Passover holiday. (Shutterstock)
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Ibrahim Karim Karaki, who is mayor of Karak. (Videograb)
Updated 05 May 2019
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Jordanian mayor apologizes for helping Israeli tourists

  • He was seen on Israeli media helping them to cross a valley that is closed to tourists

AMMAN: A Jordanian mayor apologized on Saturday for his interaction with a group of Israeli tourists, after his hospitality toward them triggered a protest, angry meetings, a social media backlash and a resignation.

Ibrahim Karim Karaki, who is mayor of Karak, organized a day-long tour for the visitors during the Jewish Passover holiday. 

He was seen on Israeli media helping them to cross a valley that is closed to tourists. He also fed the group, which included children, and presented them with plaques of appreciation from the city.

His attentiveness angered Karak residents, who viewed it as an act of normalization.

Karaki’s apology video, which was posted on the city council’s Facebook page, followed social media attacks, the resignation of a council member, angry town hall meetings at the headquarters of professional unions, and a protest after Friday prayers.

The mayor can be seen in the apology video denouncing Israeli occupation, calling for the liberation of all of Palestine “from the sea to the river” and a rejection of normalization in all its forms. 

The video is also full of praise for Jordan, including strong support for King Abdullah and the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem. It was filmed in front of a model of Al-Aqsa mosque.

Dr. Khaled Baqaen, the council member who resigned in protest at Karaki’s actions, said the apology was not enough and that he would not change his mind. He even called for the mayor to be pushed out.

“The tourists were on a mistaken path,” he told Arab News. “Fine, have the proper authorities help them and send them back. Why give them the public plaque to honor what they did? Those who elected him should remove him. 

The plaques cost money. How did he decide on giving the plaques to the Israelis? What are the criteria that were considered before agreeing to order and give the plaques using city money? I did what I believe is correct. I took my position after the Zionist media celebrated the event. I will not withdraw my resignation even if the people of Karak accepted his apology, which they have.”

The resignation and protests may have prompted the mayor to rethink what he did, but the social media onslaught would have been a little harder to stomach for a mayor who courted the youth vote.

Zaid Nabulsi, a lawyer and social media commentator, said the mayor had crossed a line. “There is no problem in helping the tourists whatever their nationality was,” he told Arab News. “But the mayor went way beyond the humanitarian part and into the political sphere. Unilaterally presenting plaques in the name of the city of Karak to the tourists who had entered an area that they are not even supposed to have entered makes no sense. The mayor thinks he can whitewash what he did with a few words. People today are well aware of things and you can’t simply fool them with words that he most likely doesn’t even believe in.”

Arab News attempted to contact Karaki but he did not return the calls.

Karak is home to one of the region’s biggest Crusader castles. It is home to around 170,000 people.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.