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.”


Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn

Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn
Updated 20 sec ago

Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn

Lebanon must act against torture, human rights groups warn
  • Country’s anti-torture unit lacks govt budget, laws and courts ‘ineffective’

LONDON: Lebanese authorities must protect people from torture and ill-treatment in detention, a group of organizations including Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The appeal came on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at HRW, said: “Despite an improvement to Lebanon’s anti-torture framework on paper, torture remains prevalent, and accountability for torture and ill-treatment is elusive.

“Lebanon needs to show that it is serious about combating torture, and it should start by moving forward the many torture complaints that have been languishing before the judiciary without effective investigations.”

In 2019, 44-year-old Hassan Al-Dika died in custody reportedly as a result of torture. An HRW investigation found that judicial authorities failed to investigate Al-Dika’s allegations of torture before his death.

They had also tasked the same security agency that Al-Dika accused of torture with investigating his claims.

And in the case of actor Ziad Itani, who was accused and later exonerated of spying for Israel, Lebanese justice authorities have yet to take action regarding his claims of torture at the hands of State Security officials.

The Lebanese Parliament passed a law criminalizing torture in 2017. Two years later the government appointed five members to the National Preventative Mechanism against Torture.

But the unit has yet to be allocated a budget to allow the fulfillment of its mandate.

“The Lebanese authorities should promptly and impartially investigate all complaints of torture, allocate a sufficient budget to allow the torture prevention unit to get to work, and bring the anti-torture law in line with international standards,” Majzoub said.

Torture remains prevalent in Lebanon, despite complaints regularly being filed under the 2017 law.

The HRW warned that the 2017 law fails to abide by Lebanon’s obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, because it fails to criminalize cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.


Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday

Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday
Updated 27 June 2022

Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday

Bahrain says Egyptian president to visit kingdom Tuesday

CAIRO: Bahraini Royal Court says Egyptian President to visit kingdom on Tuesday, will hold talks with King, the state-run news agency said.  

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will receive President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and his accompanying delegation upon his arrival in Bahrain tomorrow, Bahrain news agency said. 

During  the visit, the leaders will hold talks related to bilateral relations, in addition to the latest developments on the regional, Arab and international arenas.


Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions

Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions
Updated 27 June 2022

Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions

Sudan to recall ambassador to Ethiopia after alleged executions

KHARTOUM: Sudan said Monday it will recall its ambassador to Addis Ababa for “consultations” following accusations that the Ethiopian army executed seven captured Sudanese soldiers and a civilian.
“In an act that contravenes all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen who were their captives,” the Sudanese armed forces said late Sunday.
The army said “this treacherous act will not pass,” vowing to respond to “this cowardly behavior.”
Tensions have risen in recent years, sparking sporadic armed clashes, over the Al-Fashaqa border strip which is close to Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region.
There was no immediate response from Ethiopia.
A Sudanese military official who requested anonymity told AFP the soldiers were taken into captivity from a border area close to the Al-Fashaqa region.
On Monday, Sudan’s foreign ministry said it “will immediately recall its ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations” and submit a complaint with the UN Security Council.
“The Ethiopian ambassador to Khartoum will also be summoned to inform him of Sudan’s condemnation of this inhumane behavior,” the ministry said.
Relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa have soured over Al-Fashaqa, a fertile strip long cultivated by Ethiopian farmers but claimed by Sudan, sparking sporadic deadly clashes between the Sudanese and Ethiopian sides.
Tensions were heightened further after fighting erupted in Tigray in November 2020, sending tens of thousands of refugees fleeing into Sudan.
Khartoum and Addis Ababa have since been locked in a tense war of words, trading accusations of violence and territorial violations.
The border dispute feeds into wider tensions in the region, including over Ethiopia’s controversial Blue Nile dam.
Sudan and Egypt, both downstream countries, have been opposed to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and pushed for an agreement over the filling of its reservoir and the operation of the dam.
In February, Khartoum and Cairo slammed Addis Ababa for unilaterally deciding to start power generation at the dam.


Cyberattack forces Iran steel company to halt production

Cyberattack forces Iran steel company to halt production
The company’s website appeared to be out of service. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 June 2022

Cyberattack forces Iran steel company to halt production

Cyberattack forces Iran steel company to halt production
  • The state-owned Khuzestan Steel Company said in a statement that experts had determined the firm was unable to continue operations “due to technical problems and will be closed until further notice” following “cyberattacks”

DUBAI: One of Iran’s biggest steel companies said on Monday it was forced to halt production after being hit by a cyberattack, apparently marking one of the biggest such assaults on the country’s strategic industrial sector in recent memory.
The state-owned Khuzestan Steel Company said in a statement that experts had determined the firm was unable to continue operations “due to technical problems and will be closed until further notice” following “cyberattacks.” The company’s website appeared to be out of service.
A local news channel, Jamaran, reported that the attack failed to cause any structural damage to the steel mill since the factory happened to be non-operational at the time due to an electricity outage.
The company did not blame any specific group for the assault, which constitutes just the latest example of an attack targeting the country’s services in recent weeks. Iran has previously accused the United States and Israel for cyberattacks that have targeted and crippled the country’s infrastructure.
Khuzestan Steel Company, based in Ahvaz in southwestern Iran, has a monopoly on steel production in Iran along with two other major state-owned firms. Founded before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the company for decades afterward had some production lines supplied by German, Italian and Japanese companies.


Iran says ‘ball in US court’ for revival of 2015 nuclear deal

Iran says ‘ball in US court’ for revival of 2015 nuclear deal
“The ball is in Washington’s court now,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 June 2022

Iran says ‘ball in US court’ for revival of 2015 nuclear deal

Iran says ‘ball in US court’ for revival of 2015 nuclear deal
  • The statement comes amid expectations that talks to save the pact will resume soon after the top EU diplomat’s trip to the Islamic Republic

DUBAI: Iran said on Monday that the revival of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers depends on Washington, amid expectations that talks to save the pact will resume soon after the top EU diplomat’s trip to the Islamic Republic.
“The ball is in Washington’s court now,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly televised news conference.