Jordan’s MPs call for action to defend Al-Aqsa

Muslim worshippers attend the weekly Friday prayers at the Aqsa mosque compound near the Dome of the Rock, in the Old City of Jerusalem, on August 16, 2019. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Updated 19 August 2019

Jordan’s MPs call for action to defend Al-Aqsa

  • Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque

AMMAN: Jordan’s parliament wants to scrap the country’s peace treaty with Israel, expel the Israeli ambassador, recall Jordan’s envoy to Tel Aviv and halt all normalization with Israel.

Members held an emergency session on Monday to urge the government to take a tough line with Israel, amid tension over Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

The Jordanian foreign ministry summoned Israeli ambassador Amir Weissbrod on Sunday to voice its “condemnation and rejection of Israeli violations” at Al-Aqsa, where Israeli security forces attacked tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers last week.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told MPs the Israelis had been given a “stern” warning. The accepted status of Al-Aqsa is that anyone may visit but only Muslims may pray there. However, there are growing demands for change by extreme right-wing Jewish nationalists.

Palestinians in Jerusalem welcomed Jordan’s stance, said Khaleel Assali, a member of the Islamic Waqf Council which administers Al-Aqsa. “They see Jordan as the last line of defense for Al-Aqsa,” he told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani, executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the restoration of Al-Aqsa, said some Israeli government officials had become the problem. “In the past, we were told that there were only a few radicals pushing for the right to prayer at Al-Aqsa,” he said.

“Now we see 100 rabbis signing a petition calling for that, and senior government officials are insisting on the need to change the status quo.”


Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

Updated 15 September 2019

Thousands return to government-seized areas in northwest Syria: state media

  • The Syrian Observatory reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control
  • The Idlib region is one of the last holdouts of opposition forces

DAMASCUS: Thousands have returned to their hometowns in northwest Syria after military advances by government loyalist against militants and allied rebels, state media said Sunday.
“Thousands of citizens return to their villages and towns of the northern Hama countryside and the southern Idlib countryside,” state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported “around 3,000 people” going home from other areas under regime control.
Since August 31, a cease-fire announced by regime backer Russia has largely held in northwestern Syria, though the Observatory has reported sporadic bombardment.
SANA said the returns came amid “government efforts to return the displaced to their towns and villages.”
The Idlib region of around three million people, many of them dispaced by fighting in other areas, is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Moscow announced the cease-fire late last month after four months of deadly violence that displaced 400,000 people, most of whom fled north within the jihadist-run bastion, according to the United Nations.
Regime forces had chipped away at the southern edges of the jihadist-run stronghold throughout August, retaking towns and villages in the north of Hama province and the south of Idlib province.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Assad’s regime now controls more than 60 percent of the country after notching up a series of victories against rebels and jihadists with key Russian backing since 2015.
But a large chunk of Idlib, fully administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate since January, as well as a Kurdish-held swathe of the oil-rich northeast, remain beyond its reach.