Protests continue over razing Jaffa Muslim Cemetery

Protesters take to the streets of the Israeli coastal city of Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, following the Friday noon prayers, to protest against an Israeli decision to demolish an 18th century Muslim burial ground to build a new homeless shelter and commercial space on the site. (AFP)
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Updated 15 June 2020

Protests continue over razing Jaffa Muslim Cemetery

  • Municipality representatives quit the local coalition over the demolition order

AMMAN: Palestinians protested for the sixth day in a row in the port city of Jaffa against plans by the Tel Aviv/Jaffa municipality to destroy the Al-Isaaf Muslim cemetery, which dates back to Ottoman times. The Jaffa List, which has been in coalition with the ruling municipality, quit in protest.

Israeli bulldozers started the demolition of the cemetery on Monday, in preparation for building a new housing project. Al-Isaaf Cemetery includes hundreds of graves of Muslims who were laid there before the Israeli occupation of the city in 1948.
A large crowd performed Friday prayers and started a march condemning the Israeli decision to demolish the cemetery located in the north of the city of Yafa.
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, who is currently banned by the Israelis from entering Al-Aqsa, delivered the Friday sermon at the site of the cemetery, noting that exhuming tombs is prevented in Islam.
Sabri told the gathering that “defending cemeteries is defending lands, and defending the dead is defending a legitimate right.”
Knesset Member Sami Abu Shehadeh taped a statement that was posted on Facebook expressing support to the people of Jaffa and hailing the Jaffa List which had the courage to withdraw from the coalition with the municipality of Tel Aviv/Jaffa.

FASTFACTS

• Israeli bulldozers started the demolition of Al-Isaaf Cemetery on Monday, in preparation for building a new housing project.

• The cemetery includes hundreds of graves of Muslims who were laid there before the Israeli occupation of the city in 1948.

• A large crowd performed Friday prayers and started a march condemning the Israeli decision to demolish the cemetery located in the north of the city of Yafa.

Abu Shehadeh said that “protecting our holy sites in Jaffa is not only a right but a responsibility.” The destruction of the cemetery “violates the section in the coalition agreement in which the municipality undertakes to preserve what remains of our architectural and spiritual heritage and the markers of our culture and history.”
The statement ended by calling “upon all the people of Jaffa, from all sectors, to continue the struggle to preserve.”
Abed Al-Kader Abu-Shehade, a member of the Jaffa List, said that recent developments over the Muslim cemetery “reflect the municipality’s violation of the coalition agreement on that issue, its disregard of our reasonable demands and our efforts to reach a settlement.”
Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places, denounced the decision to destroy the cemetery.
He told Arab News that “destroying an old Islamic cemetery to build a shelter for the homeless is yet another sign of the Israelis going after anything that is holy to any religion except the Jewish ones.” Issa said that racism toward Palestinians in Israel was deeply ingrained in policy and practice.


Pompeo says letting Iran arms embargo expire is ‘nuts’

Updated 1 min 32 sec ago

Pompeo says letting Iran arms embargo expire is ‘nuts’

VIENNA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged an extension to a UN arms embargo on Iran, saying it would be “nuts” to let it expire.
Opposition from UN Security Council veto powers China and Russia is expected to block a resolution to extend the blockade beyond October.
Pompeo reiterated during a visit to Vienna that Iran should not be allowed to buy and sell weapons, calling the Islamic Republic “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
“I mean that’s just nuts... We’re urging the whole world to join us” to extend the arms embargo, he said.
As things stand arms sanctions are set to be eased gradually from October, under a Security Council resolution blessing a 2015 deal Iran signed with world powers to limit its ability to develop a nuclear bomb — in exchange for easing trade barriers.
The landmark deal has come under strain since the US pulled out of it in 2018.
As Washington has re-imposed crippling sanctions, Tehran has in turn stepped up its nuclear activities again since last year.
Pompeo urged Tehran to provide “full, transparent and immediate cooperation” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.
After meeting Pompeo on Friday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told reporters that Iran had still not granted the agency access to two sites where it has requested access in order to clarify questions about possible undeclared nuclear activity in the early 2000s.
But he added that he had “hope” continued dialogue would get Iran to open up.
“My objective is to get this access,” Grossi said.
Citing a restricted IAEA report, Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Iran was transferring advanced centrifuges used to enrich uranium from a pilot facility into a new hall at its main Natanz nuclear fuel plant, which was hit by a fire last month.
Grossi said he would not comment on restricted reports from the agency, adding Iran had informed the IAEA of “what has been going on” in Natanz and it was part of inspectors’ “ongoing work.”
Austria is the latest stop on a Central European tour that has taken Pompeo to the Czech Republic and Slovenia. He will continue on to Poland on Saturday.
In Slovenia he signed a declaration that the EU member will “exclude untrusted vendors” from 5G networks, part of the Trump administration’s campaign to persuade allies to exclude Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
Austria has so far declined to exclude any vendor outright.
Friday’s visit was a rare bilateral trip to Austria for a US foreign minister, although Vienna and Washington both say they value their close ties.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who Pompeo will meet later Friday, visited the White House last year.
The under-construction Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to bring Russian gas to Western Europe is a bone of contention between the two governments, with Austria’s OMV one of the energy industry players involved.