Palestinians praise King Salman’s ‘patriotic position’

Saudi Arabia's King Salman. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2019

Palestinians praise King Salman’s ‘patriotic position’

  • The refusal to grant permits to Palestinian residents has confined them to crowded, poorly served neighborhoods, with around half the population believed to be at risk of having their homes demolished

AMMAN: Ibrahim Milhem, a spokesman for the Palestinian government, praised Saudi Arabia’s King Salman’s “strong Saudi patriotic” position at this difficult time for the Palestinian cause and said his stance is “a reflection of the dangers that this national cause is facing.”
Milhem told Arab News on Friday that Saudi Arabia’s leading role in “Arab, Islamic and international efforts gives Palestinians hope,” and added that the Kingdom’s quick response to Israel’s plan to expand settlements in East Jerusalem shows “that the Saudis are making a strong statement of concern about the need to (respect) international law.”
Milhem said that King Salman’s phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demonstrated to the world the “Arab support to Palestinians and provides a political cover to all that is needed to stand up to the ‘deal of the century’ and the attempts of Netanyahu to end the two-state solution by his annexation efforts.”
The expansion of the settlements in East Jerusalem, which Israel seized along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, threatens to further complicate one of the thorniest issues in the conflict.
There is a strong evidence of decades of systematic discrimination, illustrated by a huge gap in the number of construction permits granted to Jewish and Palestinian residents, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.

HIGHLIGHT

The expansion of the settlements in East Jerusalem, which Israel seized along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, threatens to further complicate one of the thorniest issues in the conflict.

The refusal to grant permits to Palestinian residents has confined them to crowded, poorly served neighborhoods, with around half the population believed to be at risk of having their homes demolished.
The data was acquired and analyzed by the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, which says it only obtained the figures after a two-year battle with the municipality.
Milhem added in his interview with Arab News that the government of Palestine will “always remember the Saudi position, which has always given financial and political (support) to the people of Palestine.”

It says the numbers show that while Palestinians make up more than 60 percent of the population in East Jerusalem, they have received only 30 percent of the building permits issued since 1991.


From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

Updated 01 June 2020

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

  • Doors open again after virus lockdown
  • Internal flights resume from Saudi airports

JEDDAH/AMMAN: It began at dawn. As the first light appeared on the horizon and the call to Fajr prayer rang out, Muslims from Riyadh to Madinah and Jeddah to Jerusalem returned to their mosques on Sunday after a two-month break that for many was unbearable.

More than 90,000 mosques throughout Saudi Arabia were deep cleaned and sanitized in preparation for the end of the coronavirus lockdown. Worshippers wore face masks, kept a minimum of two meters apart, brought their own prayer mats and performed the ablution ritual at home.

“My feelings are indescribable. We are so happy. Thank God we are back in His house,” said Abdulrahman, 45, at Al-Rajhi mosque in Riyadh, where worshippers had their temperatures checked before entering.

Television screens inside the mosque displayed written instructions, including the need to maintain a safe distance from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Jerusalem, at 3:30 a.m. thousands crowded outside three gates assigned to be opened to allow Muslims to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Young and old, men and women, many with their phone cameras on, chanted religious songs as they waited to return for the first time since the virus lockdown began.

“Those wishing to pray were checked for their temperature and those without a mask were given one by Waqf staff. All were asked to stay a safe distance from each other when they prayed,” Mazen Sinokrot, a member of the Islamic Waqf, told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque told Arab News that enabling Muslims to pray in large numbers and according to health requirements had gone smoothly.

“People cooperated with the local Muslim authorities and followed the regulations.” The people of Jerusalem had shown a high degree of responsibility, he said.

Israeli police spokesman Miky Rosenfeld told Arab News that extra police units had been  mobilized in the old city of Jerusalem for the reopening of Al-Aqsa. 

“People arrived in the areas scheduled according to health and security guidelines,” he said.

Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former Minister for Jerusalem in the Ismael Haniyeh government in 2006, said people were happy to be able to pray once more at Islam’s third-holiest site.

“It is time to open a new page in cooperation with local institutions and with Jordan to regain all that has been lost over the years,” he told Arab News.

“The Waqf council has done a good job in dealing with the contradictions and pressures that they are under, which is like walking on a knife’s edge as they deal with the occupiers on the one hand and the health situation on the other, while also trying to be responsive to the desires of worshippers.”

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, commercial flights took to the air again, office staff returned to work and restaurants resumed serving diners as life began a gradual return to normal after the coronavirus lockdown.

Eleven of the Kingdom’s 28 airports opened on Sunday for the first time since March 21. “The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowds inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” civil aviation spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.

No one without an e-ticket will be allowed into an airport, face masks must be worn and safe distancing observed, and children under 15 may not travel unaccompanied.