Archive for February, 2015

Jordan wants to see proof pilot alive before exchange


AMMAN – Jordan said Thursday that it would not release an Iraqi female jihadist until it receives proof that a Jordanian pilot held by the Islamic State group is alive.

IS has threatened to execute the airman unless Jordan frees Sajida al-Rishawi by sunset Thursday in exchange for Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.

“Jordan is willing to exchange Sajida al-Rishawi for the Jordanian pilot. At this point we want to emphasize that we have asked for proof of life from Daesh (IS) and we have not received anything yet,” Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said.

“Rishawi is still in Jordan and the exchange will happen once we receive the proof of life that we asked for,” he told reporters.

He made no mention of Goto.

The deadline set by IS to hand over Rishawi at the Turkish border in return for Goto’s life falls when the sun sets in the Iraqi city of Mosul at around 1500 GMT.

Jordan has offered to free the Iraqi woman, who was convicted for her part in triple-hotel bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people, if IS releases their airman.

While IS threatened Kassasbeh’s life, it was not clear from its message if the jihadist group was ready to free the pilot as part of an exchange.

Jordan has said its priority is to see the airman return home safely.

Kassasbeh was captured on December 24 after his F-16 jet crashed while on a mission against the jihadists over northern Syria.

Source: Middle East Online.



Municipality wants to turn Amman into green city by 2020

by Muath Freij

Jan 24, 2015

AMMAN — The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) on Saturday said it is working to turn the capital into a green city by 2020.

In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, Amman Mayor Aqel Biltaji said GAM will launch new projects and open public parks to expand green spaces in the city.

Emad Dabbas, the rapporteur of the “Amman is a green city” committee, said the working plan stretches over several phases.

“First, we will start collecting data from past studies related to the parks that were already built in the capital. We will also continue studies that have been completed so we can first document the projects we already have,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone on Saturday.

Dabbas, who is also an architect, noted that the committee will conduct studies targeting main and side streets and the traffic situation in preparation for the project.

“We first want to rehabilitate the gate of Amman, which is the airport road, by planting a number of trees and landscaping the highway to beautify it for our visitors,” he added.

Dabbas said GAM will start planting trees in some areas in Amman in the next five years and begin work to construct new parks.

There are a total of 145 public parks in 22 areas in Amman, according to the official.

“The private sector, including banks and big companies, will also take part in the project out of their social responsibility towards their city,” he added.

The project will be unveiled on March 21, according to Dabbas.

“The budget allocated for the project will be revealed in March after the announcement of the results but the amount of money earmarked for rehabilitating parks and green projects this year is JD4 million.”

Source: The Jordan Times.


Spanish Foreign Minister arrives in Gaza

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo arrived Tuesday in the Gaza Strip through Erez crossing with Israel on a few hours’ visit to the embattled enclave, a Palestinian official said.

Garcia-Margallo “aims to get acquainted with the impact of the recent Israeli offensive in the coastal enclave and hold talks with chief of UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA Pierre Krahenbuhl,” Maher Abu Sabha, head of the Palestinian border authority, told The Anadolu Agency.

The top diplomat arrived in Ramallah on Monday, where he met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

The visit comes as part of a regional tour for the Spanish minister to get familiar with the “status quo” in the Middle East, a statement by the Spanish Foreign Ministry said earlier.

In November, the Spanish parliament called for recognizing Palestine as a state.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Serbia grants citizenship to main rival of Palestine leader

February 01, 2015

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia has granted citizenship to a key political rival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after he pledged millions of dollars in investments from the Emirates, where he has lived in exile, Serbian officials said Sunday.

Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that former Fatah party strongman Mohammed Dahlan, whom Abbas fired in a power struggle, was given the citizenship in 2013. His wife, four children, a relative and five Palestinian supporters were also given Serbian passports.

The 53-year-old Dahlan, a former Abbas’ aide and Gaza security chief, was once seen as Yasser Arafat’s heir apparent. He was kicked out of Fatah in 2011 after Abbas accused him of corruption and hinted he may have been involved in Arafat’s death.

Dahlan was sentenced in absentia by a West Bank court to two years jail in 2014 on defamation and slander charges because he alleged in an interview that Palestinian security forces help protect Israeli settlers in the occupied territories.

Dahlan later said in a statement that the ruling was politically motivated and was meant to block him from competing in internal elections in Abbas’ Fatah movement and in future general elections. Dahlan, who turned into a businessman in exile, has promised millions of dollars of investments from the Emirates to Serbia. The Balkan country’s government can secretly grant citizenships to foreigners when it sees the individuals can serve special state interests.

Dacic said that Dahlan was not given the citizenship on political grounds, but due to the economic relations with the Emirates. “When Dahlan was in Serbia, we spoke only about relations with the United Arab Emirates,” Dacic said. “Internal Palestinian issues were not on the agenda.”

In December, thousands of Dahlan supporters protested against Abbas in the Gaza Strip amid reports that corruption charges involving millions of dollars will be filed against the former security chief.