Ammon News, Editor's Choice

Jordan in talks with Russia on financing solutions for nuclear reactor

[8/17/2017 11:45:00 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan on Wednesday said talks were still ongoing with Russia to secure the best financing solutions to build the country's first nuclear power plant. The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement that the two countries were still committed to the project to build a nuclear power plant in Jordan with two reactors each having a capacity of 1,000 megawatts. Russia's Rosatom, the state atomic energy corporation, has been keen on implementing the project since its inception and is involved in the project with all its technical and financial aspects, the commission said, quoted by the Jordan Times. The commission's statement came following some local reports claiming that the Russian company was looking into withdrawing from the project and it has already submitted a request to Jordan in this regard. The commission said technical studies related to the project were completed as well as other studies, emphasizing that the project will not put any burden on the treasury. Early 2017, Jordan and Russia have floated tenders to attract bids for supplying turbines and electrical systems for the kingdom's first nuclear power plant. Jordan will secure 1.5 billion U.S. dollars and Russia will do the same for building the plant, which is estimated to cost 10 billion dollars. The rest will be financed by banks and funds. In March 2015, Jordan signed an inter-governmental agreement with Russia to build and operate the nuclear power plant. Russia's Rosatom will own 49 percent of the project. The first reactor is expected to be operational in 2025. Energy-poor Jordan imports about 97 percent of its energy needs annually.

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Egyptian-Jordanian cooperation in the field of military and civil industries and manufacturing technology

[8/14/2017 4:25:17 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of Military Production Mohamed El Assar welcomed the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces, Mahmoud Farihat, and a high-level delegation accompanying him to discuss aspects of joint cooperation between the two countries in the fields of military and civilian industries and manufacturing technology. According to El Assar, the Ministry of Military Production is interested in cooperating with the Jordanian side in various fields of industrialization, stressing on the importance of this meeting. It is considered an important step that contributes in strengthening the relations between the two countries through joint cooperation in the fields of manufacturing military and civilian products. During his meeting with the Jordanian delegation, El Assar reviewed the technological capabilities and defensive equipment produced by the companies of the Ministry of Military Production, including ammunition, equipment and systems of armament, as well as the human capabilities and the advanced technological systems on which these industries are based. He pointed out that the surplus productive capacities of these companies are exploited in the production of civilian products. Meanwhile, Farihat welcomed the cooperation, which is an affirmation of the mutual trust between the two countries, praising the enormous potential possessed by the Ministry of Military Production and its role in providing the requirements of the armed forces. Nevertheless, he stressed on the importance of the role played by Egypt to confront extremism and terrorism in the region. At the end of the meeting, the two sides agreed to exchange visits, to look at the manufacturing and technological capabilities possessed by the two parties, and to open new fields of joint cooperation between the two countries. *Daily News Egypt

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Theophilus III rejects Israeli court's ruling on Jaffa Gate property case

[8/12/2017 3:41:06 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, All Palestine and Jordan Theophilos III Saturday voiced his rejection of an Israeli court ruling over the ownership of a property which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Jaffa Gate area in the Old City of Jerusalem . Theophilos III told a press conference in Amman that this decade-long legal battle resulted in an unjust decision ignoring clear and established legal evidence provided by the Patriarchate, which made it clear that there was "bad faith, bribery and conspiracy for the benefit of the group of settlers, and this can only be explained as politically motivated." He pointed out that 40 members of the Israeli Knesset signed two weeks ago a draft law which would seriously limit the churches's rights in freely handling their lands and confiscate them. Such move raises more concerns that the case is being politicized, the Patriarch added. He stressed that the draft law is a clear attempt to deprive the 2,000-year-old Patriarchate and the other churches of their legitimate freedom and independence, warning that if the bill was passed, it would constitute a clear and serious violation of any international treaty governing the region and an aggression on the freedom of worship. Theophilos III called for an urgent meeting of the heads of the Holy Churches to coordinate their rejection of the Israeli ruling and respond to such dangerous developments, which will not affect the Christian community in the Holy Land, but all Christians across the globe. He called on His Majesty King Abdullah II, U.S. President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as all heads of churches in the world and the international community to immediately and urgently intervene to ensure justice and freedom.

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Jordan continues to block Israeli ambassador’s return

[8/12/2017 6:05:15 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan is waiting to see what legal action Israel takes against an Israeli embassy guard involved in a deadly shooting in Amman last month before it allows Jerusalem to bring its ambassador back into the country, a senior Jordanian government official said Friday. Amman has reportedly told Israel to “hold on” when asked to allow Israel’s ambassador Einat Schlein to return to the kingdom. The July 23 episode, in which Israeli embassy guard Ziv Moyal shot dead two Jordanians when attacked by one of them, sparked a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Amman. Embassy staff returned to Israel a day later. The guard said he was attacked by one of the two with a screwdriver, and Israel said he opened fire in self-defense. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the guard a hero’s welcome, infuriating Jordan. Jordan’s King Abdullah II said that Jordan was “infuriated” by the matter, calling it “unacceptable and provocative behavior.” Israel has since said police will investigate the case. The Jordanian official told The Associated Press on Friday that Netanyahu’s behavior “is damaging to bilateral relations and the regional acceptance Israel is seeking.” Last Friday, the State Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had opened a preliminary probe into the incident at the behest of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani called Israel’s decision a “step in the right direction… We expect a complete follow-up on the legal procedure in accordance to international law relevant to these cases. Justice must be served.” During security cabinet meetings following the incident, Mandelblit told ministers that as a signatory to the Vienna Convention, Israel is required to investigate suspects upon their return from a host country that provided diplomatic immunity for charges against them, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported last week. While Mandelblit emphasized that the inquiry is entirely routine, Moyal will likely be investigated on suspicion of manslaughter, that report said. Shortly upon returning home, Moyal was questioned by Israeli authorities over the incident, in which he said 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh stabbed him after learning that he was Israeli. Jawawdeh, the son of a furniture store owner, was in the embassy residence installing a bedroom set at the time of the incident. The landlord, Bashar Hamarneh, was also hit by a bullet and later died of his wounds. Moyal has reportedly rejected Jordanian claims that the incident was sparked by a dispute over furniture, saying he was attacked for “nationalistic” reasons. *Israeli Media

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Spike in number of Syrian teens marrying as child brides in Jordan

[8/8/2017 6:22:36 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Married at 15 and divorced at 16, a Syrian teen says she regrets having said yes to a handsome suitor — a stranger who turned into an abusive husband. Yet the reasons that transformed her into a child bride have become more prevalent among Syrians who live in Jordanian exile because of a six-year-old civil war back home. More families marry off daughters to ease the financial burden or say marriage is the way to protect the “honour” of girls seen as vulnerable outside their homeland. Figures from Jordan's population census document the long suspected increase for the first time. In 2015, brides between the ages of 13 and 17 made up almost 44 percent of all Syrian females in Jordan getting married that year, compared to 33 percent in 2010. With Syrians expected to remain in exile for years, it's a harmful trend for refugees and their overburdened host country, UN and Jordanian officials say. More Syrian girls will lose out on education, since most child brides drop out of school. They typically marry fellow Syrians who are just a few years older, often without a steady job — a constellation that helps perpetuate poverty. And they will likely have more children than those who marry as adults, driving up Jordan's fertility rate. “This means we will have more people, more than the government of Jordan can afford,” said Maysoon al-Zoabi, secretary general of Jordan's Higher Population Council. The figures on early marriage were drawn from Jordan's November 2015 census and compiled in a new study. The census counted 9.5 million people living in Jordan, including 2.9 non-Jordanians. Among the foreigners were 1.265 million Syrians — or double the number of refugees registered in the kingdom since the outbreak of the Syria conflict in 2011. The other Syrians include migrant laborers who came before the war, and those who never registered as refugees. The figures on early marriage include all Syrians in Jordan, not just registered refugees. Many came from southern Syria's culturally conservative countryside, where even before the conflict girls typically married in their teens. Still, the study shows a higher rate of early marriage among Syrians in exile than in their homeland. The teen divorcee fled Syria's Daraa province in 2012, along with her parents and four siblings. The family eventually settled in a small town in the northern Mafraq province. The parents and the teen, now 17, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the stigma of divorce. They said they wanted to speak out, nonetheless, in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistake. Child brides are traditionally shielded from outsiders, and the family provided a rare glimpse at what drives early marriage. “When we came here, our lives were disrupted,” said the teen's mother, sitting on a floor cushion in the living room of their small rented home. “If we had remained in Syria, I would not have allowed her to get married this young.” The family scrapes by on small cash stipends and food vouchers from UN aid agencies, along with the father's below-minimum-wage income as a laborer. Worse, the family feels adrift. The parents, fearful their children would be harassed, especially the girls, did not enroll them in local schools, typically overcrowded to accommodate large numbers of Syrians. In such a setting — girls sitting at home without a seeming purpose — the push to have them get married becomes stronger. An older sister of the teen also married as a minor. The mother said she often feels regret about her daughter having been robbed of her childhood. The younger girl spent most of her time at home, brooding. She had no girlfriends since she didn't go to school and was only allowed to leave the house with her mother, in line with traditions. In any case, there was nothing to do in the small desert town. Two years ago, a young Syrian man asked for the teen's hand, after introductions had been made by a go-between. The intermediary talked up the stranger, saying he had job prospects and could afford his own apartment. The teen, 15 at the time, accepted. “I was bored and sad,” she said. “I wanted to get married.” The parents said the young man seemed immature, but that their daughter insisted. The wedding took place a month later, and the bride wore a white dress. The marriage contract was sealed by a Syrian lawyer, not a Jordanian religious court judge, meaning it was not officially recognized in Jordan. Local law sets the minimum age of marriage for girls at 18, though Jordanian judges often allow exceptions for brides between the ages of 15 and 17. In 2015, 11.6 percent of Jordanian females who married that year were minors, compared to 9.6 percent in 2010, indicating a slight rise that al-Zoubi believes is caused in part to Jordanians being influenced by Syrian customs. After marriage, the Syrian teen moved to a different town with her husband, and his promises quickly evaporated. The couple moved in with his extended clan, and the teen turned into a maid, according to her parents. The teen said her unemployed husband beat her. Despite the abuse, she said she wanted to stay in the marriage, fearful of the shame of divorce. Her father eventually insisted on divorce to extract her from what he felt was a harmful situation. After returning home, the teen briefly attended an informal education and children's support program called Makani that is run by the UN child welfare agency and other aid groups at centers across Jordan. She started making friends, but stayed away again when a new group of students signed up. Robert Jenkins, the head of UNICEF in Jordan, said that by the time girls are married, it's often too late to get them back to education. “Our absolute first line of defence is prevention (of early marriage),” he said, adding that the agency tries to support families and teens so they won't opt for early marriage. In the Zaatari refugee camp, such intervention appears to have had an impact, said Hussam Assaf, 32, who rents and sells white bridal gowns and colourful engagement dresses in the local market. Assaf said the typical age of his customers in Zaatari is 16 or 17, compared to 14 or 15 in his hometown in rural Syria, crediting counselling programmes by aid groups with the change. The young divorcee, meanwhile, hasn't ruled out marriage in the future. She said it's unlikely she'll ever go back to school because she has already missed five years of learning. Still, she thinks about what could have been. “If I had continued my education, it would have been better,” she said. Her trauma of her brief marriage “has made me weaker,” she said. *AP

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Israel opens investigation into deadly shooting at Israeli embassy in Amman

[8/7/2017 8:51:09 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Israel’s Ministry of Justice has reportedly opened an investigation into a deadly incident at the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman last month, during which an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanian citizens, amid repeated calls by Jordanian officials to prosecute the Israeli guard. According to Jordanian news outlet al-Ghad, the ministry announced that Israeli authorities had launched a preliminary investigation into the incident in order to decide if the ordeal could be considered criminal. Jordan and Israel have sparred over whether the security guard should be handed over to Jordanian custody. Staff members of the Israeli embassy to Jordan, including the security guard referred to only as Ziv -- who killed Jordanian citizens Muhammad Zakariya al-Jawawdeh, 17, and Bashar Hamarneh -- returned to Israel on July 24, after a day of high tensions following the shooting incident. Jordanian King Abdullah criticized Netanyahu’s welcoming home of the guard as “a political showoff,” saying it was "provocative and destabilizes security and encourages extremism in the region.” Israel had refused to allow Jordanian authorities to question the injured Israeli security guard, citing his immunity under the Vienna Conventions -- a body of international law which Israel has been accused of regularly violating. Meanwhile, al-Ghad reported that the passports of some 200 Jordanians were being withheld from their owners at the Israeli embassy in Amman after they had applied for Israeli tourist visas. Al-Ghad reported that the shooting incident and continued diplomatic disputes between Jordan and Israel were the reasons behind Israel suspending the visa process for Jordanian citizens. However, the passports have continued to be withheld at the embassy. On Tuesday, 78 out of 130 Jordanian deputies had signed a motion demanding that the Deputies Council urge the Jordanian government to close the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The motion also demanded that the Jordanian ambassador to Israel leave Israel at once in order “to express rejection of the Jordanian government handling of the issue and returning the killer to Israel.” *Ma’an

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Jordanian father wants son's killer to face justice

[8/6/2017 8:20:04 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The father of 17-year-old Jordanian Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, who was fatally shot by an Israeli embassy guard in Amman on July 23, says he wants his son's killer to face justice. Zakariya al-Jawawdeh was reacting on Saturday to the Israeli government's announcement that it would conduct a preliminary investigation into the shooting to death of two Jordanians by the guard who the kingdom says should face criminal prosecution. The embassy guard, later identified as "Ziv", shot and killed Mohammed and Dr Bashar Hamarneh, the owner of a property rented out to the Israeli embassy in Amman. Israel's attorney general on Friday ordered police to "look into" the shootings, the Israeli justice ministry said in a statement, using terminology signifying a preliminary probe that could be upgraded into a criminal investigation if warranted. "Further along, as findings arise, the option will be considered of asking the Jordanian authorities ... to provide additional material to the police," the ministry said. Zakariya told Al Jazeera: "I don't mind the guard facing the Israeli or any legal system so long as he faces justice and my son's blood does not go in vain." Jordanian version Mohammed was supposed to deliver and install a bedroom set at the embassy residence that was ordered by the Israeli embassy through Hamarneh. The Jordanian government initially said that Jawawdeh "stabbed" the embassy guard during an altercation, who in turn acted in "self-defence" and shot the boy. The Jordanian government later changed its official story and said the Israeli had "committed a double-homicide crime". Citing the guard's diplomatic immunity, Israel repatriated him and other embassy staff after the incident, which stirred up anger in Jordan, where the 1994 peace deal between the countries is unpopular and pro-Palestinian sentiment widespread. It is unclear why the guard also shot and killed Hamarneh, who was inside the apartment when the shooting occurred and may have been the only witness besides the guard himself. According to the Israeli government's version, the guard fired in self-defence after being stabbed by a screwdriver-wielding Jordanian workman, who was killed along with a Jordanian bystander hit by stray gunfire. Zakariya told Al Jazeera that Mohammed would never have attacked the guard, especially because he was so young while the guard was a fully armed and highly trained Israeli security officer. Netanyahu's embrace Mohammed's uncle, Sami al-Jawawdeh, told Al Jazeera: "Armed Israelis will not hesitate for a second before shooting and killing an Arab for whatever reason. "They think they are so superior to us and they can kill us with impunity." Immediately after the incident, the embassy guard and staff crossed the border into Israel, where he was seen in a video being embraced by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, a gestured that angered the Jordanian public. In his first public comments on the case, King Abdullah criticised Netanyahu last week for the embrace, calling it provocative and destabilising. Abdullah later visited the families of both Jordanian victims to pay his respects. Zakariya, who quoted Abdullah as telling him "Your son is like my son, and I will not give up on his right", told Al Jazeera: "I have faith in King Abdullah. He came to my house and assured me that he will personally bring my son justice." He further said Fayez al-Tarawneh, chief of the royal court, called him to tell him personally that the government of Jordan was already working on Mohammed's case. Zakariya quoted Tarawneh as telling him: "We have started working on behalf of your son and we have hired international lawyers to follow through on this case. Your son is our son and we will not abandon his case." Zakariya told Al Jazeera that Jordanian police have not shared with him the results of their investigation. Father's account Insisting that his son had no inclination to attack the embassy guard, Zakariya told Al Jazeera that neither he nor his son knew they were selling a bedroom set to the Israeli embassy. "All we knew was that the Jordanian doctor had ordered the set from our store and asked us to deliver it to his address, which was at around four in the afternoon," he said, referring to Hamarneh. "He even told us that the delivery truck will have to be searched thoroughly in the area, which we did not mind or cared about." Zakariya said his son called him at around six in the evening, an hour before he was killed, telling him that everything was fine - he was about to finish the task as the doctor was helping him put the bedroom set together. The Jordanian intelligence department detained the delivery truck driver, Maher Faris Ibrahimi, a key witness, for several days before he was released and ordered not speak to anyone about the case, according to his family members who spoke to Al Jazeera by phone from Amman. Commenting on the launch of Israel's preliminary investigation, Mohamad al-Momani, a Jordan government spokesperson, said: "We think this is a step in the right direction. We expect a complete follow-up on the legal procedure in accordance with international law relevant to these cases. Justice must be served." *Agencies

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