Chelsea FC owner funded Israeli settler organization: BBC

Chelsea FC owner funded Israeli settler organization: BBC
In this May 24, 2015 file photo Chelsea's Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, center, applauds after Chelsea were presented with the Premier League trophy after the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge stadium in London. (AP)
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Updated 22 September 2020

Chelsea FC owner funded Israeli settler organization: BBC

Chelsea FC owner funded Israeli settler organization: BBC
  • Abramovich gave over $100m to Elad, which operates in illegally annexed East Jerusalem, over roughly 15 years
  • Russian oligrach’s money used to fund evictions of Palestinians from their homes

LONDON: Companies controlled by Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, have donated over $100 million to an Israeli settler organization carrying out activity illegal under international law in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a BBC News Arabic investigation.

The Russian oligarch donated the money to Elad, which also runs a tourism business in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, through offshore companies held in the British Virgin Islands.

Shahar Shilo, Elad’s former marketing director, said its strategy is using tourism “to create a different political reality” in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood.

The information emerged as a result of Buzzfeed’s Fincen Files leak, which released a deluge of secret financial information held by banks about many companies.

The leaked documents show that donations from four companies held in the British Virgin Islands made up nearly half of Elad’s entire donations from 2005 to 2018.

Abramovich was listed as the owner of three of those companies, and had a controlling stake in the fourth. This makes him the largest donor to Elad in the last 15 years.

A spokesman for Abramovich told the BBC that the oligarch “is a committed and generous supporter of Israeli and Jewish civil society, and over the past 20 years he has donated over $500 million to support health care, science, education and Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.”

Abramovich’s funds were used by Elad to purchase Palestinian homes in Silwan and strengthen the presence of Jewish settlers there.

The BBC also found that his donations were used to fund and campaign for the eviction of Palestinian families in the neighborhood.

One such family is the Sumarins, who live in a home adjacent to Elad’s visitor center. They have been fighting a long-running legal battle with a Zionist group that is trying to take over their home.

Elad pays all the group’s legal costs associated with the case, which will go to Israel’s Supreme Court in April 2021.

Mohammed Dahle, the Sumarin family’s lawyer for 10 years, said: “The probability of the survival of a Palestinian property, after it’s been declared that it’s a Jewish or Israeli property ... is most likely zero.”


Iran’s meddling in affairs of other countries threatens regional security: GCC chief

Iran’s intervention in the internal affairs of other countries is a threat to the region, the chief of the GCC said on Saturday. (File/AFP)
Iran’s intervention in the internal affairs of other countries is a threat to the region, the chief of the GCC said on Saturday. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2021

Iran’s meddling in affairs of other countries threatens regional security: GCC chief

Iran’s intervention in the internal affairs of other countries is a threat to the region, the chief of the GCC said on Saturday. (File/AFP)
  • The GCC chief said that economic integration is on the list of priorities for the council
  • Al-Hajraf: Current situation in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen represents direct threat to the security of region

LONDON: Iran’s intervention in the internal affairs of other countries is a threat to the region and a matter of concern, the chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Saturday.
Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and its support for militias, must also be included in ongoing talks in Vienna and they should not be limited to reviving the nuclear deal, GCC Secretary-general Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf said at a virtual Gulf Research Meeting.
Representatives of Iran and the five world powers still party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have been meeting in the Austrian capital since April, with US envoys participating indirectly. An agreement has yet to be reached.
Al-Hajraf added that the current situation in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen represents a clear and direct threat to the security and stability of the Middle East.
The GCC chief said that economic integration is on the list of priorities for the council, as is strengthening the leading position of GCC countries in the region and the world.
He said Saudi Arabia holding the G20 presidency in 2020, the UAE hosting Expo 2020 from October, and Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup are examples of this effort.
Al-Hajraf added that the national visions and development plans in GCC countries are creating the appropriate momentum to focus on the future and exploit opportunities.


Lebanese man dies in accident waiting in gas station queue

Lebanese man dies in accident waiting in gas station queue
Mahmoud Delbani, 27, the latest victim to die of a tragic accident while waiting at a gas station in the lines that have become known as ‘the queues of humiliation and shame’ for long hours that drivers spend waiting. (Facebook/Mahmoud Delbani)
Updated 24 July 2021

Lebanese man dies in accident waiting in gas station queue

Lebanese man dies in accident waiting in gas station queue
  • Fuel shortages have resulted in queues kilometers long outside petrol stations leading to unprecedented congestions, horrific accidents
  • Local media reported the 27-year-old man had been looking forward to catching up with his friends after filling his car with fuel

BEIRUT: A man killed in a queue at a gas station on Saturday was the latest victim of the unprecedented crisis in Lebanon.
Mahmoud Delbani, a 27-year-old Lebanese citizen, was waiting to fill his car with gasoline at 2.30am when an inattentive truck driver crashed into several vehicles lined up at the Coral Petrol Station on the Beirut-South Lebanon highway, an Internal Security Forces traffic officer told Arab News.
Three people were also injured in the accident.
For more than two months the deteriorating economic crisis has caused enormous fuel shortages in Lebanon, with queues kilometers long outside gas stations leading to unprecedented congestion on roads and horrific accidents.
The lines at stations have become known as ‘the queues of humiliation and shame’ due to the long hours that drivers spend waiting to fill their cars.
Local media reported that the 27-year-old man had been looking forward to catching up with his friends after filling his car with fuel.
Hussein, a friend of Delbani from Tyre, in southern Lebanon, said: “He left us too early. What a tragically unexpected and humiliating end to such a loveable and smiley character. I cannot accept what happened! Why did he have to leave that way?”
Tarek, another friend of Delbani, mourned him on Facebook, writing “RIP Mahmoud you will be missed … too early dear but our destiny in Lebanon … innocent people die and stupid politicians have a long life...”
The traffic police have reported a number of recent accidents in petrol queues.
Petrol stations have been running low on subsidized petrol for months, but shortages worsened in June and July as people’s fears of rationing and shortages intensified, leading to a large number of petrol station closures.
A number of fights, heated arguments and shootings have taken place and a petrol station owner was shot dead by an angry customer in north Lebanon.

 


Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19

Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19
Updated 24 July 2021

Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19

Jordan to vaccinate children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19
  • Jordanian children can be given Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine with the approval of a guardian with no prior appointment necessary

BEIRUT: Jordan will start vaccinating children aged 12 years and older against COVID-19 from Sunday, the state news agency said on Saturday.
Children can be given the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine with the approval of a guardian with no prior appointment necessary, the agency quoted the health ministry as saying.
The decision comes as Jordan lifted most restrictions at the start of July, reopening gyms, pools and night clubs at hotels after cases dropped from a peak in March when several thousands of new cases were recorded daily.
Total active cases reached 7,489 on Friday with 331 new cases and four deaths.
Since the start of the pandemic, Jordan has recorded a total of 763,437 cases and 9,933 deaths.
Several other countries in the region are vaccinating children, including Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.


Jordanian political committee member steps down after Eid Al-Adha comments

A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
Updated 24 July 2021

Jordanian political committee member steps down after Eid Al-Adha comments

A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
  • Al-Khadra, professor of English at the American University of Madaba, submitted her resignation on Friday from the committee
  • She criticized what she described as the “unjustified slaughter of sheep” during Eid Al-Adha

AMMAN: A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down under public pressure following statements on Eid Al-Adha sacrifices that were deemed anti-Islamic.

Al-Khadra, professor of English at the American University of Madaba, submitted her resignation on Friday from the committee, which was formed by Jordan’s King Abdullah II on June 10 to overhaul the kingdom’s political system.

In a comment posted on her Facebook account, Al-Khadra criticized what she described as the “unjustified slaughter of sheep” during Eid Al-Adha, claiming the annual ritual has nothing to do with Islam.

In her comment, which she later deleted, Al-Khadra wrote: "Sheep butchering and serving it as Udhiyah (sacrifice) is unjustified and has nothing to do with Islam … the ritual is inhumane and lacks mercy.”

She also claimed that the practice went against modern concepts of environmental and ecosystem balance.  

Al-Khadra’s comments prompted unhappiness from the public, with many people taking to social media to demand her resignation from the committee.

The Ifta Department issued a statement, denouncing Al-Khadra’s remarks on Eid Al-Adha sacrifice but without mentioning her name.

The department’s Secretary-General Ahmed Hassanat said: “The purpose for the creation of animals and all creatures is the service of man." 

A group of retired army generals, calling themselves the Brothers in Arms Assembly, called for Al-Khadra’s dismissal from the committee, arguing that her remarks betrayed “hatred of the country’s religious constants.”

Al-Khadra issued a statement on Thursday in which she said that her remarks were taken out of context and that she did not mean what had been “misunderstood.”

She also said that she respects the Udhiyah ritual as an integral part of Islam.

The head of the committee, Samir Rifai, called on all members to adhere to the code of ethics they signed up to, and not to engage themselves in controversial matters.

In a letter sent to all members, Rifai, a former prime minister, also called for respect for the religious establishment and norms in Jordan.

Committee spokesperson Muhannad Mubeidin told government-owned Al-Mamlakah TV that Rifai referred Al-Khadra’s resignation to King Abdullah, who accepted it.  

On June 26, another member of the committee, Oraib Rentawi, also resigned following outrage at a statement he made on the 1968 Battle of Al-Karama between Jordan and Israel.

In an opinion piece in Ad-Dustour newspaper, Rentawi claimed that the conflict was between the Palestinian resistance, under the leadership of the late leader Yasser Arafat, and Israel.

Jordan celebrates the Battle of Al-Karama on March 21 as the first Arab victory against Israel by the Jordanian Armed Forces under the leadership of late King Hussein.

Rentawi’s remarks were received with public anger, especially from ex-army personnel who fought in the battle.


Sudan closes border crossing with Ethiopia after disappearance of commander: reports 

Sudan closes border crossing with Ethiopia after disappearance of commander: reports 
Updated 24 July 2021

Sudan closes border crossing with Ethiopia after disappearance of commander: reports 

Sudan closes border crossing with Ethiopia after disappearance of commander: reports 

DUBAI: Sudan closed its border with Ethiopia on Saturday following the “disappearance” of a commander who was in the area pursuing Ethiopian militias off, local media Sudan Tribune reported. 

Captain Bahaa El-Din Youssef was pursuing Ethiopian militias who “kidnapped three Sudanese children from within the border” on Friday, the report said. 

According to the report, the children were aged between 10 and 15 years old and were taken to an unknown location. 

Clashes erupted late last year between Sudanese and Ethiopian forces over Al-Fashqa, an area of fertile land settled by Ethiopian farmers that Sudan says lies on the Sudanese side of a border demarcated at the start of the 20th century.