Jordan launches diplomatic drive to end Al-Aqsa Ramadan tensions

A Palestinian man prays in front of the Dome of Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. (AFP)
A Palestinian man prays in front of the Dome of Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. (AFP)
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Updated 19 April 2022

Jordan launches diplomatic drive to end Al-Aqsa Ramadan tensions

A Palestinian man prays in front of the Dome of Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. (AFP)
  • Israeli ambassador summoned for ‘strict and clear condemnation’
  • Palestinians angry over the Israeli police actions last Friday appealed to Jordan to intervene

RAMALLAH: King Abdullah II of Jordan has intensified efforts to end Israeli measures against Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during Ramadan.

On Monday, he contacted Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi, European Council President Charles Michel, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the talks, he stressed the need for Israel to end all actions in the mosque.

The king’s efforts came amid growing concerns that provocative behavior by Israel around the Al-Aqsa Mosque could undermine the chances of achieving peace.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that Jordan had summoned the Israeli ambassador to inform him of his Amman’s condemnation of Israeli measures, and on Monday said it summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires.

“We summoned the Israeli ambassador, and we will summon the charge d’affaires to inform him of our strict and clear message in which we condemn the Israeli actions,” said the minister.

He added that Jordan would host a meeting of the Arab League committee next Thursday to confront “illegal Israeli measures” in Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Al-Safadi warned that if Israel did not stop “these illegal measures and their violations,” it would bear responsibility for increasing tensions.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Haitham Abul Ful said the Israeli charge d’affaires was handed a letter, carrying Jordan’s rejection of the “illegal and provocative” measures in Jerusalem and its assaults against worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque - Islam’s third holiest shrine.

Abul Ful said that Jordan also demanded Israel respect the freedom of worship and “immediately” cease its assaults and attempts to change the historical and legal status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque / Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

“The Israeli actions are a serious escalation and a violation of the international law and Israel's obligations as the occupying power,” the spokesperson said.

The decision to summon the Israeli ambassador comes as national groups in Jordan continue their solidarity with worshipers in Al-Aqsa and their massive demonstrations until the end of Ramadan.

Israel reacted with concern to Jordan summoning its ambassador in Amman on Monday.

Palestinians make up a large percentage of Jordan’s population. Tens of thousands live in refugees camps on the outskirts of Amman and their protests in solidarity with Al-Aqsa may pose a challenge to security and stability.

Although Egypt and Qatar had mediated between Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel to prevent further security escalations, Palestinians still believe that only Jordanian pressure can stop further Israeli restrictions in Al-Aqsa during Ramadan.

Israel had asked King Abdullah to mediate with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before Ramadan so that there would be no tension in Jerusalem during the holy month.

King Abdullah visited Ramallah on March 28 to meet Abbas. They agreed to work to calm the situation on the eve of the start of Ramadan.

Before the meeting, he received Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Amman and in the same week Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the Israeli President Isaac Herzog in an attempt to prevent the deterioration of the security situation during the holy month.

Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, director of the Islamic Awqaf in Jerusalem, a department affiliated with the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Amman that employs 800 people who guard Al-Aqsa, said in an interview with Arab News that the Israeli policy toward Al-Aqsa is “very dangerous.”

He added: “Any Israeli violation will be met with a protest and a strong Jordanian stance from King Abdullah II, because the religious and legal position is that Al-Aqsa Mosque does not accept division or partnership and is the property of Muslims, and any prejudice to that means a violation of the principles on which King Abdullah II was brought up, on the importance of preserving Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem,” he told Arab News.

Palestinians are concerned that Israeli authorities will divide Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews, as they did several years ago in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

Israel meanwhile closed the Ibrahimi Mosque on Monday and Tuesday in front of Muslim worshipers, in order to enable Jewish worshipers to perform Passover prayers.

Palestinians angry over the Israeli police actions last Friday appealed to Jordan to intervene and questioned King Abdullah’s position on protecting Al-Aqsa.

A number of them wrote posts on social media. One said: “Al-Aqsa Mosque does not need to be carpeted, but rather needs the protection of those who lead it to pray in Ramadan.”

The Hashemites have been the guardians of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem for 100 years. Even after the 1967 war, during which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the Jordanian guardianship of Al-Aqsa remained in place. The position was consolidated during the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty — better known as Wadi Araba — that was signed between the late King Hussein bin Talal and the then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“It is natural to summon the Israeli ambassador in Amman and protest to him, and it is important for the Israeli people to know that there are extremist right-wing Jewish parties that are working to offend them by leading a religious war against Muslims in this country,” said Al-Khattib.

He added: “Any violation of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque concerns the whole world, especially King Abdullah.”

The said added: “We want peace to prevail in this region. It does not harm the sanctities from any side, and that the specter of religious war is kept away from it.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly criticized its Israeli counterpart and refuted Israel’s claim to support freedom of worship.

It said in statement that the Israeli Foreign Ministry “continues to manufacture lies and misinformation about the occupation state’s keenness on freedom of worship in occupied Jerusalem.”

It also noted that “hundreds of videos” had documented cases of worshipers being forced to leave the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as cases of “repression and abuse.”


Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
Updated 18 August 2022

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
  • The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured

CAIRO: The fire that broke out in the Abu Sefein Church in Egypt on Sunday was not deliberate, according to an investigation by the public prosecution.
The cause of the fire, which killed 41 people, was a defect with an electric generator in the church after it was turned on due to a power outage.
The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured, who said they heard the sound of electric charges emanating from inside the church, and the fire broke out after that. Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy said the victims had died of smoke inhalation.


Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
Updated 18 August 2022

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
  • Blaze in Egyptian city of Giza killed 41 people, injured 16
  • ‘We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis’

CAIRO: The Egyptian people showed their genuine nature with regard to Sunday’s fire in Abu Sefein Church that killed 41 people and injured 16 in the city of Giza, said the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Tawadros II thanked everyone who contributed to containing the blaze, and offered condolences to the family of a priest who died.

“He was a beloved priest until his last breath, and we console the people of the church, both adults and children, knowing that they are with Christ, and that is very much better,” the pope said.

“We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis, including the concerned agencies, officials, the people and neighbors.”

He said he is scheduled to meet in the next few days with the victims’ families, adding that Christian and Muslim communities in various countries have offered their condolences. The Interior Ministry said an electrical fault had caused the fire.


Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
Updated 18 August 2022

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
  • "According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria," the embassy said
  • It said the ship was carrying "grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities"

BEIRUT: A Russian cargo ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has reached Syria, Kyiv’s embassy in Beirut said Thursday, the latest in a series of contested shipments arriving in the war-torn country.
“According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria,” the embassy said in a statement to AFP.
It said the ship was carrying “grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities,” adding that the vessel was initially destined for the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russian forces of ransacking its grain warehouses since they invaded the country in late February.
The embassy’s statement came as another cargo ship carrying the first shipment of grain allowed to leave Ukraine under a UN-backed deal reportedly unloaded its cargo at the Syrian port of Tartus, which is managed by a Russian firm.
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni was expected to arrive in Lebanon, but the shipment’s five-month delay prompted the Lebanese buyer to cancel the deal once the ship was already at sea, Ukrainian officials had said.
According to Samir Madani, co-founder of oil shipping monitoring website TankerTrackers.com, the vessel docked in Tartus earlier this week.
Satellite imagery appeared to show that the ship — which was carrying 26,000 tons of corn — was unloading its cargo, Madani tweeted on Thursday.
Earlier this month, a Syrian-flagged ship was briefly seized by Lebanese authorities following similar claims by the Ukrainian embassy that it was laden with stolen cargo.
Lebanon later released the Laodicea vessel after investigations failed to prove it carried stolen goods, drawing criticism from Kyiv’s embassy.
The Laodicea started unloading its cargo at Tartus on August 8, according to Syrian state media.
Syria is a staunch ally of Russia, which intervened in the country’s civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s government.
Moscow has lent Damascus very limited amounts of financial aid, but it has supplied Syria with wheat as a form of assistance.
The Syrian government relies on Moscow for the bulk of its wheat imports.


Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
Updated 18 August 2022

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
  • Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”

CAIRO: Nevin Al-Kabbaj, Egypt’s minister of social solidarity, met with Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of international development, to discuss cooperation in various fields.
Al-Kabbaj reviewed her ministry’s programs and activities, including those focusing on the rights of women and the disabled.
Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”
Al-Kabbaj expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Development Agency to support development in Egypt and her ministry’s economic-empowerment projects.


Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan

Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan
Updated 18 August 2022

Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan

Egypt sends aid to flood-hit Sudan
  • Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged by torrential rains and floods, according to the Sudanese Civil Defense

CAIRO: Egypt has sent five military transport planes loaded with tons of relief aid to Sudan, where floods have killed 77 people and injured more than 30.

A spokesman for Egypt’s military said the aid comes “in the framework of Egypt’s support and solidarity with the brotherly Sudanese people.”

The aid includes tents, blankets, foodstuffs, medicines and medical supplies provided by the defense and health ministries.

Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged by torrential rains and floods, according to the Sudanese Civil Defense.

Heavy rains usually fall in Sudan between May and September, a period when the country experiences flash floods that damage housing, infrastructure and crops.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 38,000 people across Sudan have been affected by rains and floods since the start of this season.