Ammon News, Editor's Choice

‘World still not doing enough to help address refugee crisis’

[12/24/2017 4:19:28 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan on Sunday said countries must live up to their commitments to the Kingdom as funding for the 2017 Jordan Response Plan, aimed at helping the Kingdom overcome challenges ensuing from the Syrian crisis, has only reached around 58.8 per cent of the required amount. "Jordan is doing this on behalf of the international community," a source, who preferred anonymity, told The Jordan Times on Sunday. He called for an adequate size aid to address the situation and make up for the unfulfilled part of assistance. Funding requirements for the 2017 plan stand at $2.65 billion, but by December 19, the total funding reached only $1.559 billion or 58.8 per cent of the total amount, according to figures released by the Jordan Response Platform for the Syrian, Crisis. Of the total funds for the plan until December 19th, a total of $653.7 million was allocated to supporting refugees, $267.4 million for budget support and $638.8 million was earmarked as resilience support. According to the platform’s website, $261.9 million of the total funding was dedicated for the education sector, $66.9 million for the energy sector, and $271.8 million for social protection. A total of $98 million was dedicated for local governance and municipal services, $163.9 million for food security and $155.7 million for water and sanitations projects, among other targeted sectors. The US topped the list of countries committing funds to the plan with $305.3 million as of December 19th. Germany came second with $233.7 million and the EU was third with $122.8 million. The UK came fourth with $64.1 million, followed by Saudi Arabia with $27.262.8 million, Japan ($56.5 million), Canada ($40.9 million), France ($25.5 million), Netherlands ($17.2 million), Norway ($12.8 million) and Switzerland ($10.6 million). The rest of the amount was shared between Denmark, Italy, Finland, Spain, Australia, Qatar, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Taiwan, Belgium, Poland, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and other countries.

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Arab scholars praise King’s efforts to safeguard Jerusalem

[12/23/2017 4:30:21 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Arab scholars on Saturday sent a cable to His Majesty King Abdullah, in which they expressed appreciation and respect for his “brave” efforts in defending Jerusalem and its holy sites. The scholars and researchers were participating in a workshop organised by “A doctor at every factory” programme that was held at the University of Jordan, in cooperation with the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organisation and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. In the cable, the experts — representing Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Libya, Bahrain, Sudan and Lebanon — said that the Hashemite custodianship over holy sites dates back to era of Sherif Hussein Bin Ali, and the world has realised the important role of Jordan in defending Islam’s tolerance and holy sites. They also expressed their appreciation and respect for His Majesty’s continuous efforts in supporting science and scholars, and his vision for developing academic research and innovation. They also issued a statement denouncing the US decision and expressing their support to Jordan in defending Jerusalem. In the statement, they said: “As Arab scholars, experts and researchers representing our countries... and based on the history of the Arab and Islamic nation, we reaffirm that Jerusalem is an Arab city and is the capital of Palestine.”

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Jordan-Israel ties languish in wake of Trump’s Jerusalem move

[12/23/2017 7:34:02 AM]

AMMONNEWS - US President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 proclamation on Jerusalem appears to have complicated efforts to restore Jordan-Israel ties. The two countries have been embroiled in conflicts over repeated incursions on Haram al-Sharif (which Israel calls the Temple Mount) by Jewish settlers and the July 23 killing by a guard of two Jordanian citizens at the Israeli Embassy in Amman. Since then, Amman has refused to allow the Israeli ambassador and embassy staff to return to the kingdom until the assailant is put on trial and families of the victims are compensated. The row has threatened work on a regional water and energy project linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, an undertaking of high strategic importance to Jordan. But Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the American embassy there has added a new twist to the strained relations between the two neighbors who signed a peace treaty in 1994. Encouraged by the government, tens of thousands of Jordanians have been protesting the US move following Friday prayers in Amman and other major cities across the kingdom. Enraged protesters have called on their government to abrogate the 23-year-old peace treaty and all bilateral agreements with “the Zionist entity.” Enmity toward Israel has reached new heights as Jordanians expressed solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied territories who have been clashing with Israeli soldiers almost every day since the Trump announcement. Public outrage coincided with an extraordinary diplomatic offensive by King Abdullah aimed at rallying international support against the US move, which he had described as dangerous and a violation of international law. Jordan’s campaign had focused on the European Union, the Vatican, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Amman’s coordination with the EU had thwarted an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convince European countries to support the US decision during a surprise visit to Brussels on Dec. 11. Jordan has argued that the fate of Jerusalem, in particular occupied East Jerusalem, should be decided in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump’s vague pronouncement is seen as pre-judging the city’s future, threatening Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Old City and destroying the two-state solution. Furthermore, it pre-empts credible negotiations to reach a peaceful settlement and strengthens the Israeli far-right's false claims that a Palestinian state already exists in Jordan. Far worse, the decision resurrects Jordanian fears of a possible transfer of Palestinians by Israel to the east bank of the Jordan River, a scenario that undermines the Hashemite kingdom. Such existential fears explain why the government has allowed anti-Israel, and in many cases anti-US, protests and sit-ins to continue. Jordan’s parliament has gone so far as to form a committee in December to review the peace treaty with Israel and other bilateral agreements, including last year’s multibillion-dollar gas deal between the kingdom’s national electricity company and a US company responsible for exploiting Israeli gas fields. Jordan’s official and public reaction to Trump’s decision has not only added pressure on ties with Israel but may have rattled relations with Washington, the kingdom’s major economic and military backer. Observers here believe Amman can’t afford to threaten its peace treaty with Israel despite Netanyahu’s provocative stances. For years, Jordan and Israel had maintained a special security and intelligence-sharing relationship. Jordan’s internal stability has been traditionally defended by Israel’s top military and security brass. Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel, former Deputy Prime Minister Marwan al-Muasher, told Al-Monitor that while “Israel is no longer a partner or a friend to Jordan, we cannot repeal the peace treaty or even amend it.” Muasher added, “What we can do is cancel the gas deal that makes us dependent on Israel for 15 years.” In his view, Jordan has no cards to play in confronting Israel or the United States. “The only option for us is to strengthen our domestic front and close ranks, back the Palestinians so they can stay on their land and raise the cost of occupation for Israel,” Muasher said. Political commentator and columnist Oraib al-Rintawi agreed. He told Al-Monitor, “This is the worst crisis to hit Jordan-Israel relations and we have to accept that we have no partners in Israel.” In his view, the time when Jordan could influence the ruling elite in Israel has ended. “We are dealing with a new type of leadership that is hostile to us and we also have no real allies in the White House,” he said. With few options left, Rintawi said Jordan should continue to move diplomatically and try to create new alliances, but avoid major confrontations and “certainly the peace treaty with Israel should remain intact.” Despite public outrage and parliament’s threat to review the peace treaty, which would not be the first time it has done so, it is unlikely that Jordan will take any step that risks its shaky peace with Israel. But there could be other moves that include suspending the unpopular gas deal or not renewing the lease of territory in the Jordan Valley to Israel. The 25-year lease ends next year and deputies have called on the government not to renew the agreement. Columnist Mohammad Abu Rumman warned in his Dec. 18 piece in Al-Ghad that Jordanians should be aware that there is a cost for Jordan’s diplomatic offensive over the issue of Jerusalem. “We are almost alone in fighting this battle and there are disagreements with our Arab allies and our options are few and difficult,” he wrote. “We should stick to our principles, but we must be aware that we will come under pressure at the worse economic times,” Abu Rumman concluded. Al-Monitor

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Jordan praises U.N. resolution rejecting U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

[12/21/2017 3:44:05 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordan Thursday welcomed a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution criticizing the U.S. government’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and move the American embassy to the holy city. UNGA adopted, by a decisive vote of 128 to 9 with 35 abstentions, a motion to declare U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital "null and void." Speaking as chair of the Arab Group at the U.N, Yemen's U.N. ambassador Khaled Alyemany, said the U.S. decision "is considered a dangerous violation and breach of international law." He also reiterated the Arab Group's rejection of the U.S. decision and emphasized the right of the Palestinian people to sovereignty over the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. State Minister for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson, Mohammad Momani, said the vote embodies the will of world legitimacy to assert the illegality of any measures aimed at changing the status quo of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, he said, is considered occupied territory under the international law, and realizing comprehensive and just peace will be achieved only by establishing a Palestinian state along the 4th June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Moreover, Momani urged the international community to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution, in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, in order to achieve security and stability.

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Christian clerics: King sole custodian of Jerusalem holy sites

[12/19/2017 2:25:24 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Christian clerics and leaders in Jordan, who met His Majesty King Abdullah II at the Baptism site this week, said on Tuesday that they had renewed their full support of the Hashemite custodianship over Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. They said in interviews with Petra that Christians in Jerusalem had also reaffirmed their pledge of loyalty to the King as Custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and Palestine at the meeting, where all the attendees condemned US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem as illegal and illegitimate. The attendees pointed out that the president had no right to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Father Nabil Haddad, Director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center in Amman, said the meeting with the King at the Baptism site, the closest spot to Jerusalem, was an opportunity for Jordanian Muslims and Christians to reaffirm their love for Jerusalem and was a platform for Jerusalem Christians to reiterate their allegiance to the custodian of the holy shrines. Senator Munther Haddadin said the King's meeting with religious leaders, including participants from Jerusalem and Jordan, is a "bright spot" and is part of the King's relentless efforts to safeguard religious sites in the holy city. Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan, William Shomali, said King Abdullah listened to the voice of Christian and Muslim leaders in Palestine and Jordan, who were unanimous in condemning the illegitimacy of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Shomali said the US president had no right to offer Jerusalem "on a gold platter to the Israelis". That's why the decision is null and void, he said, adding that everything possible should be done to rescind and thwart it. *Petra

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Outcome of Security Council voting stresses int'l community rejection of U.S. decision

[12/19/2017 2:13:06 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson, Mohammad Al- Momani, said Tuesday the outcome of Security Council voting yesterday affirmed int'l community's rejection of the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Though the U.S. vetoed the bill, the minister added the int'l law deems the U.S Jerusalem move as null and void. Jordan will press ahead with its diverse maneuvers at all arenas to counter the precarious ramifications of the U.S. step and will mobilize support to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, he pointed out. The Kingdom, he underlined, will exert robust efforts with Arab nations to underscore the status quo of the holy city of Jerusalem as an occupied land, to highlight illegality of the U.S. decision and to stress its contravention of all relevant Security Council resolutions.

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Iran's envoy in Jordan: Support for Hezbollah maintains Arab security

[12/15/2017 2:02:52 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Iranian Ambassador to Jordan Mojtaba Ferdosipour has chosen the map of Palestine as a centerpiece for his office, along with a Dome of the Rock miniature. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Ferdosipour said he believes Palestine represents a compass for regional issues, all of which should point toward “one enemy, Israel.” “Yet,” Ferdosipour said, “this compass has lost its bearings in recent years, after Arab governments replaced Israel with Iran as their enemy.” He also asserted that many Arab peoples do not agree with their leaders in terms of discarding this compass and normalizing relations with Israel. Iran “does not want to take control of the Arab capitals,” he said, dismissing the Nov. 19 Arab League foreign ministers meeting, which concluded that Iran's missiles are threatening Arab capitals. The Arab League conclusion was in response to the Houthis launching ballistic missiles at Riyadh on Nov. 4. Ferdosipour denied allegations that Iran was supporting Houthis in Sanaa and supplying them with missiles, but on the other hand said Iran is proud of its support for Lebanese Hezbollah in confronting Israel. Ferdosipour previously served as director of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East Department and as charge d'affaires in Amman. He also served in the latter capacity in Beirut prior to assuming his current post, in August 2014. The ambassador said that rumors about his mandate coming to an end were simply that, adding that the Council of Ministers needs to approve any extension of his mandate. Al-Monitor interviewed Ferdosipour Nov. 22 at his office in Amman and followed up by phone. A transcript of that interview, slightly edited for clarity, follows. Al-Monitor: Do you expect the Sochi summit, which brought together Iran, Turkey and Russia on Nov. 22, to produce progress in the negotiations on the conflict in Syria? Ferdosipour: The Sochi summit came against the backdrop of a previous agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran to find solutions to the Syrian crisis, which established the course of the Astana negotiations. The Sochi summit follows the same course and aims to harvest the fruits of the efforts put into anti-terrorism operations, particularly in Abu Kamal and other areas plagued by terrorists and the Islamic State (IS). This is the beginning of a new chapter for the political solution and the start of joint negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition. Al-Monitor: Why were countries like the US, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which are actively involved in the Syrian crisis, absent from the Sochi summit? Ferdosipour: The summit came after a tripartite agreement was reached [in December 2016] between Russia, Turkey and Iran in Moscow [to sponsor an agreement between the Syrian regime and the opposition]. If some parties were not present, this does not mean they are absent from the consensus. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to leaders from Egypt, the US and Saudi Arabia over the phone. Communication channels are always open between all parties when it comes to reaching political solutions after military operations. Al-Monitor: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri returned to Lebanon on Nov. 21 after announcing his resignation [as prime minister] from Saudi Arabia, accusing Iran of spreading violence in the region. However, reports suggested that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign after his rapprochement with Iran. What do you think about this? Ferdosipour: The media highlighted the fact that Hariri's resignation was forced upon him by Saudi Arabia. What we heard during the resignation speech were either forced or politicized words. It is important for us to hear the right words without any kind of coercion. It is our policy in Lebanon to communicate with all parties. When the senior adviser to the supreme leader on international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, last visited Lebanon, on Nov. 3, he held a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri at the presidential palace, during which many common issues were put forward. Hariri himself was even supportive of the Iranian ideas regarding a solution for the Syrian crisis. This seems to have upset some parties, and Hariri was indeed forced into resigning because of a political stance and not because of financial corruption, as some reported. Over the past decades we have tried to keep our relationship with all parties in Lebanon flexible, and we have always believed that supporting security and stability in Lebanon can only be achieved by supporting all parties in the political arena, without leaving out any religion or sect, or else we would be making a big mistake. Those who think that Hezbollah should be pushed out of the [Lebanese] political arena and marginalized are mistaken. We advise all regional parties to realize that maintaining Lebanon's security and stability can only happen if all concerned parties reach a single vision and cooperate to strengthen their relations. All foreign parties need to support this idea. Al-Monitor

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