Jordanian king waives rent of Waqf properties  in Jerusalem

King Abdullah's decision has been praised. (File/AP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Jordanian king waives rent of Waqf properties  in Jerusalem

  • Islamic Waqf: This is the time for property owners to follow the leadership of the king and waive rental to their tenants

AMMAN: The Islamic Waqf department in Jerusalem issued a statement thanking King Abdullah of Jordan for the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs’ decision to waive rent payments for 2020 on all endowed (waqf) properties in Jerusalem rented by individuals of any religion.

More than 350,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, many of them in rented homes. Religious endowments have historically been a method of safeguarding properties in the city from confiscation by various occupiers over the course of many wars. The majority of properties in the Old City, in particular, are endowed, with most belonging to religious establishments or to families who have endowed them.

HIGHLIGHT

• More than 350,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, many of them in rented homes.

Wasfi Kailani, director of the Royal Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa, said the decision was good news for thousands of Jerusalemites. “Since most of the Old City is (endowed) real estate, at least 1,300 Jerusalem households, shops, private schools, churches, hotels, offices, companies, health centers, hospitals, youth associations, and other institutions will benefit from the decision,” Kailani told Arab News.

The statement by the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem noted that the decision will provide people, businesses and institutions with some security in the difficult times that the world is experiencing due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Khalil Assali, a member of the Jerusalem Waqf, called on other property owners to waive rent too. “This is the time for property owners to follow the leadership of the king and waive rental to their tenants,” he said.

Arab News has learned that a number of landowners, religious institutions and family endowment directors are considering making a similar decision.


Coronavirus cases soar as Israel prepares tighter measures

Updated 1 min 22 sec ago

Coronavirus cases soar as Israel prepares tighter measures

  • Israel, a country of some 9 million people, now has one of the world’s highest rates of coronavirus on a per capita basis
  • The government reopened the economy too quickly, and a new outbreak has quickly spread throughout the summer

JERUSALEM: Israel on Wednesday reported a new record level of daily cases of the coronavirus, shortly before government officials were to meet to discuss tightening a new nationwide lockdown.
The Health Ministry reported 6,861 new cases on Wednesday as a raging outbreak showed no signs of slowing. Israel, a country of some 9 million people, now has one of the world’s highest rates of coronavirus on a per capita basis, and health officials say hospitals are quickly approaching capacity.
The government last week imposed a nationwide lockdown that closed schools, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants. The coronavirus Cabinet was to meet later in the day to discuss further tightening the restrictions.
Ahead of the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that in light of the rapid spread of the virus, he would seek a “a broad general closure and significant tightening of restrictions immediately,” including the closure of large parts of the economy, his office said.
Israel won international praise for its handling of the outbreak last spring, moving quickly to seal its borders and impose a lockdown that appeared to contain the virus. But the government reopened the economy too quickly, and a new outbreak has quickly spread throughout the summer. The economy, meanwhile, has not recovered from a serious downturn caused by the first lockdown, and the new lockdown has led to a new wave of layoffs.
A new poll released Wednesday by the Israel Democracy Institute, a respected think tank, found that only 27% of Israelis trust Netanyahu to lead the country’s effort against COVID-19. That compares with 57.5% who trusted him in early April. The survey interviewed 754 adults and had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
The Health Ministry has instructed hospitals to delay non-essential surgeries and to open additional coronavirus wards as the number of serious cases continues to rise.
Beyond further limiting economic activity, officials have been discussing shuttering synagogues and clamping down on protests — both of which risk sparking a public backlash.
The limits would come at a time when Israeli Jews are celebrating the High Holidays and when weekly demonstrations have been held against Netanyahu and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The ongoing protests have bitterly divided the country, with religious leaders saying their public is being unfairly targeted by restrictions on public prayer while Netanyahu’s opponents continue to hold large public demonstration. Demonstrators say Netanyahu’s supporters are using the outbreak as an excuse to muzzle their democratic right to protest.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch said restrictions would have to be tightened in the near future.
“Educational institutions will be closed, the economy will be limited to essential work, synagogues will have no indoor prayers, with arrangements for outdoor prayer, and demonstrations will be allowed without protesters traveling between cities,” he told Channel 12 TV. “Everyone will demonstrate where he wants, will pray where he wants and will stay at home. That is what is required now.”