Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion

Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion
Demonstrators express solidarity with the Palestinian people in Amman, near the embassy of Israel, whose ambassador faces demands to be expelled by 90 Jordanian MPs on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 May 2021

Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion

Jordan MPs launch diplomatic assault on Israel with call for envoy’s expulsion
  • Ninety MPs out of Jordan’s 130-strong lower house of parliament signed a memorandum requesting the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador
  • Move comes as a sign of protest and rejection of Israel’s “brutal and barbaric” attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Gaza

AMMAN: Jordanian MPs on Monday called for Israel’s ambassador in Amman to be expelled in response to “Israel’s crimes against humanity.”

Almost all lawmakers who took the podium during Monday’s special session on the violence in Gaza and the occupied West Bank urged the government to expel the envoy following Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and subsequent bombing campaign.

Jordan is the custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ninety MPs out of Jordan’s 130-strong lower house of parliament signed a memorandum requesting the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Amman as a sign of protest and rejection of Israel’s “brutal and barbaric” attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Gaza.

The petition, a copy of which was seen by Arab News, calls on the government to adopt a bold stance toward cutting diplomatic ties with the “Zionist entity” by expelling the Israeli envoy and recalling Jordan’s ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Last week, the Jordanian government said it had summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires in Amman to object to the “Israeli assaults against Al-Aqsa Mosque worshippers and East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.”

Other MPs demanded the cancelation of all agreements with Israel, including the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty and the gas deal between the two countries.

In 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan gas field, to buy $10 billion of natural gas.

The government at the time said it would import 250-300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Noble Energy, adding the deal would save the kingdom around $990 million. Under the agreement, Jordan will receive 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

Other deputies, mostly of Islamist leaning, hailed Hamas’ “acts of resistance,” and called for action against Israel in the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh, who attended the session, said that Jordan has its own legal and diplomatic toolbox to deal with the Israeli attacks on Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank, adding: “All options are on the table.”

Al-Khasawneh said that some of these diplomatic options will be used to protect Palestinians’ rights and others to highlight Israel’s violations.

The prime minister accused Israel of committing crimes against humanity, and said that Jordan’s unwavering position on the long-running conflict is rooted in the three “no’s” declared by King Abdullah: No to giving up Jerusalem, no to dropping the right of return for Palestinians, and no to the resettlement of Palestinians in Jordan.

With some MPs threatening the government with a no-confidence motion if it fails to expel the ambassador, Al-Khasawneh said that the “government will examine all options and will take the right action that serves the national interests once it receives the parliamentary petition.”

Sheikh Jarrah

A group of MPs also requested that a parliamentary delegation visit Sheikh Jarrah to deliver a message to the world’s parliaments on what they termed the “injustice exercised against the Palestinians” in the East Jerusalem neighborhood.

In a memorandum submitted for immediate action, 100 MPs demanded that a parliamentary delegation be formed to visit Sheikh Jarrah with the aim of supporting the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem and reaffirming Jordanian custodianship of the Old City’s holy shrines.

Al-Khasawneh said that the government has provided the Palestinian Authority with documents on Sheikh Jarrah to help the Ramallah-based government address Israeli “demographic change” practices in Jerusalem.

During a visit to Ramallah on April 22, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi submitted documents to PA President Mahmoud Abbas proving Palestinian ownership of Sheikh Jarrah.

Jordan administered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, but remains custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Safadi’s trip to the occupied West Bank came after families were reportedly given court orders to leave their homes in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah by May 5 or face eviction.

“We have provided all the documents that we have that can help the Palestinian residents to preserve their full rights. Jerusalem is a red line for Jordan, the king and our people, as it is a red line for the state of Palestine. We will confront any effort to undermine the existing historical and legal status of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem,” Safadi was quoted as saying following his meeting with Abbas.

In response to some deputies who claimed that the government has failed to submit all registration documents to the Palestinians, Safadi said: “This is untrue. The government has checked every relevant paper in the (national) archives and has submitted all documents to the Palestinian people and government, and has also attested all the documents handed to the Sheikh Jarrah’s residents proving their ownership of their neighborhood.”

At a meeting with MPs on Sunday, King Abdullah said that “no country is more supportive of the Palestinians than Jordan,” adding that intensive talks were underway with active international stakeholders to stop the Israeli escalation, and safeguard Palestinian lives and property.


Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues

Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues
Updated 21 min 7 sec ago

Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues

Egypt, Qatar agree to settle outstanding issues
  • Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani receives written message from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
  • Egypt and Qatar FMs also meet in Doha to discuss the re-activation of bilateral cooperation between countries

CAIRO: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on Tuesday held talks with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who visited Doha to deliver a message from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The Qatari news agency reported: “The emir received a written message from the president of Egypt on enhancing relations between the two countries and means of strengthening bilateral relations in a way that serves the interests of the two brotherly countries and peoples.”

Shoukry arrived in Doha on Sunday carrying El-Sisi’s message on the positive developments in Egyptian-Qatari relations following the AlUla Declaration.

The declaration “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood among our countries and peoples in order to serve their aspirations,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the GCC Summit when the AlUla Declaration was signed on Jan. 5.

El-Sisi said in his letter that Egypt looks forward to taking more measures during the upcoming period to enhance bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the interests of both peoples and countries, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

Shoukry also held talks with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani as they discussed the re-activation of bilateral cooperation and means of settling all the outstanding issues between both countries.

Hafez said the meeting also covered the most prominent challenges facing the Arab countries and the region.

Both ministers also discussed the Arab League meeting held on Tuesday about the most prominent regional issues and ways to deal with external interventions harmful to Arab national security, Hafez said.

They highlighted the importance of stressing Arab solidarity with Egypt and Sudan during a session scheduled to be held on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, he said.

Shoukry will attend the meeting, following a request from Egypt and Sudan.


Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife

Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife
Updated 41 min 25 sec ago

Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife

Dubai authorities say cracking down on owners of illegal wildlife
  • Joint task force of Dubai police and municipal authorities responded to many cases of violation during the past weeks
  • Authorities are working to curb violators and confiscate wild and dangerous animals to keep them away from residential areas

DUBAI: Dubai authorities said Tuesday a joint task force was cracking down on the illegal possession of dangerous animals in the Gulf emirate, where owning exotic wildlife remains popular in some circles.
The joint task force of Dubai police and municipal authorities “has responded to many cases of violation during the past weeks,” a police statement said.
Authorities are working “around the clock to curb violators and confiscate wild and dangerous animals to keep them away from residential areas,” it said, urging members of the public to report and hand over such animals.
In mid-May, Dubai police said a hunt was underway for a wild animal on the loose in a residential neighborhood, after reports of an escaped big cat.
A video of what appeared to be a big black cat circulated on social media groups, and residents of The Springs community were warned to “exercise all necessary caution.”
Local media later reported that animal turned out to be a domestic cat.
A 2016 federal law prohibits people “from owning, possessing, trading or breeding dangerous animals,” with a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a 500,000 dirham ($136,000) fine, according to the statement.
Despite the penalties, private zoos are not uncommon in the United Arab Emirates.


Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles

Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles
Updated 15 June 2021

Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles

Treasures of ancient Iraq go on display at Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles
  • Exhibits showcase pieces from across Mesopotamia and relief sculptures from the palaces of Assyria

LOS ANGELES: The Getty Villa Museum in Los Angeles is reopening with two exhibits on ancient Iraq: a showcase of pieces from across Mesopotamia organized by the Louvre and, on loan from the British Museum, relief sculptures from the palaces of Assyria.

“The late Assyrian empire rose around 900 B.C. and dominated the entire Middle East for about 300 years,” explained Jeffrey Spier, the museum’s senior curator of antiquities.

“We have some of the reliefs of Ashurnasirpal II hunting lions which was a popular pastime of the kings to glorify the kings. We have scenes of battles, rather gruesome scenes, very graphic scenes of battles. And we end at the time of Ashurbanipal, the most famous of the kings in the 7th Century BC who defeated the Elamites in Iran, is shown and is shown at a banquet, one of his famous scenes is here.”

The importance of these sculptures has increased after several of those in Iraqi museums were destroyed or damaged by Daesh extremists during their occupation of large parts of the country. 

“The ones still in Iraq are being preserved now,” Spier said. “I know they’re doing very good work at restoring what was damaged.”

The Louvre’s Mesopotamian artifacts will be on display until August 2021, and the Assyrian relief sculptures until 2022. In that time, the Getty Villa is excited to show the culture of ancient Iraq to everyone traveling to Southern California.

“Los Angeles has become a place for tourism again,” Spier said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors especially from the Middle East.”


International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy

International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy
Updated 15 June 2021

International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy

International community key to solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Envoy
  • Palestinian ambassador to UK: ‘Leaving two sides to sort it out … is like leaving the wolf with the lamb’
  • With sufficient global support, ‘transformation is imminent,’ Husam Zomlot tells event attended by Arab News

LONDON: The key to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “a very clear message from the international community,” the Palestinian ambassador to Britain told a London think tank on Tuesday.

In a conversation hosted by Chatham House and attended by Arab News, Husam Zomlot told the audience that the Palestinians have fulfilled their part “in making sure that we enforce ourselves into the Israeli public so that apathy doesn’t continue.”

He added that the biggest factor for increasing awareness and forcing change in the region will be “what our youth do,” pointing to the intensity of the next generation’s campaigning over the last month.

Zomlot said youth campaigns “have been very intense,” adding: “Our message was delivered to every Israeli household. It has cost us a lot, a lot of bravery and heroism. I’m following these kids in Jerusalem on social media, speaking to the media with such beautiful eloquence, framing the issue. It’s hitting the Israeli public and the world.”

However, he said despite this energy and enthusiasm from youth activists, the lack of a clear message from the international community has limited the efficacy of their efforts.

“What’s missing isn’t the Palestinian readiness to stand up — we’ve proved that 100 times in the last 100 years … All the way to the Jerusalem uprising, we’ve been delivering the message. What’s missing is a very clear message from the international community,” he added.

“Leaving two sides to sort it out … is like leaving the wolf with the lamb. What we can do is to resist, but resistance on its own won’t tilt the balance. We need the force of the third party that created the situation.”

Zomlot said with sufficient international support following the latest wave of global attention, “transformation is imminent.”


Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video

Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video
Updated 15 June 2021

Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video

Dutch court tries refugee allegedly spotted in Syrian execution video
  • Ahmad Al K reportedly served as local leader of Al-Nusra Front before fleeing to Europe
  • Other European countries have prosecuted individuals who took part in crimes during Syrian war

LONDON: In the first case of its kind in the country, a refugee residing in the Netherlands has gone on trial for war crimes over alleged murders that he oversaw during the Syrian war.

Ahmad Al K, 49, arrived in the Netherlands with his family in 2014. He was arrested in 2019 after being spotted in a crude video showing the murder of an unarmed Syrian soldier.

Following the arrest, he admitted to being present at the time of the video, but his lawyer argued that he was seeking a prisoner exchange from the captive in an effort to free siblings who had been jailed by the Syrian regime. 

However, it has been alleged that Al K oversaw the killing using the name Abu Khuder, and operated as a local leader of the Al-Nusra militant group.

The 2012 video shows a captured lieutenant colonel in the Syrian air force being led to a river before being shot dead.

A second video has emerged from German investigators, in which prosecutors allege that Ahmad Al K is clearly identifiable.

The case is the result of a Dutch undercover operation that involved a key witness in Syria who spoke to investigators through WhatsApp.

Al K claimed in court on Tuesday that he fled to Turkey in 2013 and arrived in the Netherlands via Greece the following year. He was provided temporary asylum by Dutch authorities.

The investigation was initiated after German police shared data from witness statements that linked him to Al-Nusra.

In court, Al K argued that he had been living in the eastern town of Mohassen when it was attacked by Syrian regime forces.

Investigators believe that he fled and established one of the first rebel battalions in the war, before eventually joining Al-Nusra. 

A 2012 interview with The Guardian could prove crucial in the case. In the feature, a man named Abu Khuder told Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad that he had deserted the Syrian military and pledged allegiance to Al-Nusra.

Though the case is the first of its kind in the Netherlands, other European countries have successfully prosecuted individuals who took part in crimes during the Syrian war.

Earlier this year, a German court handed a former Syrian intelligence officer jail time for his involvement in crimes against humanity.

Another former Syrian officer, 58-year-old Anwar Raslan, is facing trial over his alleged involvement in the torture of at least 4,000 people from 2011 to 2012. He faces charges of murder, rape and sexual assault.