Jordan’s Waqf welcomes Israeli de-escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque
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Updated 15 January 2020

Jordan’s Waqf welcomes Israeli de-escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque

  • Bab Al-Rahmeh was reopened to worshippers in February 2019

AMMAN: The director of Jerusalem’s Islamic Waqf welcomed Israeli moves to de-escalate tensions surrounding Islam’s third-holiest mosque, but called for a serious and permanent change of policy by Israel.

Sheikh Azzam Khatib — an employee of Jordan’s Waqf in Jerusalem, the Islamic religious trust responsible for the management of the Islamic holy sites around, and including, Al-Aqsa Mosque — told Arab News that certain moves have lessened tensions but serious decisions are still pending. “We welcome the Israeli decision to bring down the scaffolding that has been up for over two years on the walls of Al-Aqsa, but call for the removal of the remaining scaffolding near the Moghrabi gate, which is five times the size of the removed scaffolding.”

Khatib expressed satisfaction at the decision of an Israeli court to reject a request by the pro-settlers right-wing NGO Regavim to reassess the Waqf’s rights over Bab Al-Rahmeh (the Golden Gate). 

Khatib also called on the Israeli police itself to withdraw its own petition to the court, explaining, “The Israeli police have filed a case calling for the closure, again, of Bab Al-Rahmeh on charges that it is used for terroristic actions.”

Jordanian officials also welcomed the decision of the Israeli court, but a senior official — speaking on condition of anonymity — told Arab News that he does not believe the Israelis are fully committed to de-escalation. 

“If they were serious, they would withdraw the case filed against the Waqf on December 29th and remove all the scaffolding,” the source said.


On Nov. 5, 2014, Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa for the first time since capturing Jerusalem in 1967.

Bab Al-Rahmeh was reopened to worshippers in February 2019, after a 16-year closure initiated by Israel over claims that the area was used for fomenting anti-Israeli sentiment and actions. It has remained open since despite ongoing Israeli efforts to close it.

Nit Hasson, a reporter for the independent Israeli daily Haaretz, told Arab News that he doubts that the Israeli court system will be much help to the Waqf. 

“It is a known tradition that the Israeli courts do not interfere or stand in the way of decisions of the police,” he said.

Hasson said the scaffolding that remains has nothing to do with Muslims or the Waqf, but with the tensions between Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox Jews. 

“The Orthodox Jews don’t want women having any rights at the (Western Wall), while the non-orthodox — many of whom live in the US — are fighting for the rights of women to have access to (it),” he explained. 

The scaffolding was raised two years ago, when a stone fell near the location earmarked for female Jewish worshipers. 

The scaffolding indirectly blocked that area off, and the Israeli government has kept that part of the scaffolding for internal reasons, according to Hasson. “It is Netanyahu’s way of solving problems,” he said.

The removal of part of the scaffolding on Tuesday came one day after Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali visited Al-Aqsa Mosque and met with the Jerusalem Waqf Council.

Yemeni president in US for annual medical checkup

Updated 13 August 2020

Yemeni president in US for annual medical checkup

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi touched down in the US for his annual medical checkup on Thursday, the Yemeni Embassy in the US said.
Ambassador Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak received Hadi at the airport in Cleveland, Ohio, where the appointment is due to take place, and “reaffirmed his utmost best wishes to the president for continued good health,” the embassy said in a brief statement.
Hadi left for the US after appointing a new governor and a new security chief in Aden, and mandating new Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed to form a new government. Hadi has travelled regularly to Cleveland for medical treatment since becoming president in early 2012, reportedly suffering from heart problems.
Saeed asked the governor, Ahmed Hamid Lamlis, to focus his efforts on reviving public institutions in Aden, restoring peace and security and fixing basic services that have been hit hard by years of instability. The official Saba news agency reported that the prime minister pledged Lamlis his government’s full support.
Saeed also entered discussions with various political factions in Yemen with a view to forming his government. Abdul Malik Al-Mekhlafi, an adviser to President Hadi, said on Twitter that the administration would be announced within a month, as the internationally recognized government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) enacted security and military components of the Riyadh Agreement.
The STC recently rescinded a controversial declaration of self-rule under a new Saudi-brokered proposal to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.
Signed by both sides in late 2019, the agreement was designed to end hostilities in Aden and other southern provinces. Under the deal, the government and the STC were agreed to withdraw their forces from contested areas in southern Yemen, move heavy weapons and military units from Aden and allow the new government to resume duties.
Meanwhile, a judiciary committee assigned by the country’s attorney general to investigate reports of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored at Aden’s port found hat the material was in fact a different fertilizer, urea, which could also prove hazardous if mixed with other materials.
In a letter addressed to the Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation, Judge Anes Nasser Ali, a local prosecutor, ordered the port’s authorities to remove the urea from the city.
Shortly after the tragic explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut last Tuesday, Fatehi Ben Lazerq, editor of the Aden Al-Ghad newspaper, ignited public uproar after suggesting 4,900 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in 130 containers had been gathering dust at the port for the last three years, which could cause an equally destructive explosion. The story prompted the country’s chief prosecutor, politicians and the public to call for an investigation.