Jordanian officer killed, four injured in Afghanistan

May 22, 2011

AMMAN: A Jordanian Army officer was killed and four soldiers injured Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded as a humanitarian convoy passed by in the Afghan Lugar province, a spokesman for the Jordanian armed forces said in a statement.

The statement, carried by the official Petra news agency, identified the officer killed as First Lt. Majed Abu Qudairi. ”The four wounded are in good health,” the army spokesman said.

“The General Command of the Armed Forces is making the necessary arrangements with the Jordanian contingent in Afghanistan to bring home the martyr and the wounded, so that they can receive treatment at Jordanian hospitals,” he added.

This is the second Jordanian fatality in Afghanistan in less than 18 months.

On Dec. 30, 2009, a Jordanian intelligence officer, Captain Ali bin Zeid, was killed along with seven leading members of the US Central Intelligence Agency at a US forward base in the eastern province of Khost in a suicidal attack that was carried out by a Jordanian doctor, Humam Balawi.

Balawi turned out later to have been a double agent of the terrorist Al-Qaeda organization and the Jordanian Intelligence Department.

In a related development, Jordan’s top criminal court on Sunday acquitted two prominent Jordanian writers of charges directed against them for strongly criticizing Jordan’s intelligence cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan.

Sofian Tal and Muwaffaq Mahadin were found not guilty on the charges of offending ties with a foreign country, provoking sectarian and racial feuds and calling for the overthrow of constitutional government through violent means.

The new fatality is expected to stir a new wave of criticism inside Jordan, which has witnesses a series of demonstrations over the past four months to press demands for reform and fighting corruption.

The authorities so far kept a tight lid on the number of Jordanian troops operating in Afghanistan to support humanitarian operations there, but NATO’s website put the number at 90 alongside other contributions to the multinational force.

Source: Arab News.


Hamas calls on PA to “reconsider” peace process with Israel

May 22, 2011

Gaza City – The de-facto Hamas government in Gaza on Sunday called on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to reevaluate its stance in favor of peace negotiations with Israel.

‘The Palestinian Authority (PA) is asked to seriously reconsider and reevaluate its positions,’ Gaza’s Foreign Ministry, led by the Islamist movement, said in a statement.

It should do so following remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

On Friday, Netanyahu said after meeting US President Barack Obama that Israel would not withdraw to the borders of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

‘This clearly shows that Israel continues with its hostile policies, which reject any peaceful solution whatever its shape and content,’ said the Hamas Foreign Ministry statement.

‘For Netanyahu, the priority is to build more settlements, annex more lands and change the demographic features of the Palestinian territories to impose facts on the ground,’ it said.

Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and has demanded a Palestinian Islamist state stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Its leaders have said in recent years that it would be willing to temporarily accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza only, not in exchange for an end to the conflict, but in return for a long-term truce lasting several generations.

Short-lived direct peace talks between the Netanyahu government and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of the PA, were suspended late last year, after Israel did not meet a Palestinian demand to extend a construction freeze in Israeli settlements.

Hamas and Abbas, of the secular Fatah party, had been feuding for years, causing a de-facto split between Gaza and the West Bank. But the rivaling parties reconciled earlier this month, with Abbas contemplating a request to the United Nation General Assembly for recognition of Palestine according to its 1967 borders.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the Six-Day War of 1967.

Source: Monsters and Critics.

Hamas agreed to Fayyad as finance minister in new unity government

AFP, Sunday 22 May 2011

The Hamas movement has accepted the appointment of Salam Fayyad as Minister of Finance in the new transitional Palestinian unity government, Palestinian Safa news website reported on Sunday. Fayyad is currently Prime Minister of the Palestinian government in Ramallah.

The website reported that a senior Fatah official said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent several messages to Hamas leaders in the past few days urging them to accept Fayyad as prime minister or finance minister.

“President Abbas urged Hamas leaders not to take any hasty decisions that might give Israel an excuse to convince the international community to boycott the Palestinian authority,” the source said.

He added that Hamas leaders said the movement does not mind putting the appointment of Fayyad as finance minister on the negotiation table; however, the movement needed guarantees from President Abbas that there would be no crackdown on movement figures or interests in the West Bank in the future.

Other Palestinian sources added that US President Barack Obama’s recent speech convinced Palestinian leaders that the new unity government must include technocrats who have the approval of the international community.

Source: Ahram.

‘Turkey could host mediation talks between Fatah and Hamas’

22 May 2011, Sunday / CUMALI ÖNAL, CAIRO

Chief Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmed, who chaired reconciliation talks with Hamas, has said Turkey could very well be the venue for the next round of talks aimed to solve differences between two Palestinian groups.

“Turkey is a brotherly country, not just a friend. We need Turkey more than ever and Turkey needs to be more active,” he told Today’s Zaman, adding that Turkey could very well bring the Palestinian sides together in its own country.

Al-Ahmed dismissed suggestions that Egypt would not want Turkey to take a leading role. “Egypt is no longer the same Egypt.” he said. “We also believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that our martyrs are Turkey’s martyrs.

Whatever upsets us also upsets Turks. Turkey has every right to assist the Palestinians,” he explained.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was not so enthusiastic to amplify Turkey’s role in mediation talks, however. Speaking to reporters in Damascus last month after a meeting with Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, he said, “Egypt has made very valuable contributions on this issue. We have not been attempting to bring the role it [Egypt] played to Turkey. We believe that, with the latest change in the region, Egypt will make many more valuable contributions on the Palestine issue in particular. We believe that we will be engaged in efforts that are not different alternatives but complementary to each other.”

On May 3, both factions signed an Egypt-brokered reconciliation pact agreeing to form a national unity government. The accord, signed in Cairo, ended a four-year rift between the two groups. The differences between the two sides are still being worked out. Al-Ahmed said some of the talks will be held in Moscow at the invitation of Russia. “Turkey could very well invite us to hold talks there as well,” he said, adding that

Turkey has much more clout in the Palestinian issue because of religious, cultural and historic ties.

Al-Ahmed asked Turkey to apply pressure on both sides and positively engage in discussions through dialogue. “Turkey should not hesitate to exert pressure on both sides,” he underlined. Looking back at the past, he said, Turkey has had more contact with Hamas than Fatah. “Turkey could have played an active role in the Palestinian issue but was slow to react. Today, however, it can play a larger role,” he explained.

The chief Fatah representative also blamed Syria for not helping reconciliation talks. “To the extent that the old Egyptian regime played a negative role in talks, Syria was also a negative factor,” he said.

Source: Today’s Zaman.

Thousands refused passports in Gaza

Sunday 22/05/2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Demonstrators gathered in Gaza City on Saturday to protest the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to grant passports to 30,000 Gaza residents.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have have been unable to get passports issued by the Fatah-led PA, residents say, because of factional tensions, despite the recent reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Salim Sharab, organizer of a campaign to demand passports for all residents, blamed the Palestinian Authority Minister of Interior in Ramallah for rejecting applications from Gaza.

He asked: “Are we paying a toll for political affiliation?”

Sharab added that those denied passports had a right to be told if they were considered spies for foreign governments, and deserved explanations as to why they were being prohibited from exiting the coastal enclave.

Patients needing medical care abroad, students and hajj pilgrims are among the rejected applicants.

Osama Fuad Abu Askar, of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, joined Saturday’s protest in Gaza City’s Unknown Soldier square. He has been trying to get a passport for four years.

“I lost my legs in 2004 during Israeli shelling and since 2007 I have been trying to get a passport so I can travel abroad and get prosthetic limbs. As a disabled man, how can I be a threat?” he asked.

Askar said reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah was pointless “if Palestinian citizens can’t get their basic rights.

“Passports are not exclusive rights for Hamas or Fatah.”

Mahmoud Abu Sweirih, another protester, said he had been married for 13 years but he and his wife have not been able to have children.

“Doctors said I needed treatment abroad, but I can’t go because I can’t get a passport. How come one individual determines my fate? Doesn’t the Palestinian constitution give me the right to have a passport?”

Campaign organizer Sharab appealed to human rights groups and the Arab League to help resolve the situation.

Director of the Addamir human rights organization Khalil Abu Shammala said passports were an inalienable right guaranteed by the constitution and international law.

“Our representatives held several meetings with PA officials in the West Bank. We planned to file legal proceedings, but waited because we had promises that the case would be resolved once the reconciliation agreement was signed,” Abu Shammala said.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Jerusalem police close alleged Hamas office

Sunday 22/05/2011

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Jerusalem police said on Sunday that they had closed an East Jerusalem community center, adding that detentions would likely be made because the organization had violated a closure order.

Police spokeswoman Luba Simmari said detectives closed the premises of the Heritage Committee in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, which she accused of being affiliated with Hamas, the Islamist political party which controls the government in the Gaza Strip.

The party runs hundreds of community organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

“It is the intention of the police to arrest suspects responsible for reopening it,” she told AFP. “It was run by Hamas… Hamas is forbidden to work in East Jerusalem.”

Neighbors said that the two-story building was also used for prayers.

An eyewitness said that police welded its doors shut.

Israel considers Hamas a “terrorist organization” and prohibits any activities run by the party to take place in territory it controls.

The Palestinian Authority is also prohibited from carrying out official activities.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Demonstration in Jordan in support of Syria’s anti-Assad protests

May 21, 2011

Amman – Hundreds of Syrians living in Jordan staged a demonstration outside the United Nations office in Amman on Saturday, in support of protesters in Syria calling for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

They crowd held up placards and chanted slogans against al-Assad, calling for and end to his leadership and security crackdown on protests in Syria.

Meanwhile, Jordanian media reported that the government had asked the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood movement, whose leaders have been given refuge in the country, to stop protests outside the Syrian embassy in Amman.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who ended a visit to the United States earlier this week, has reportedly asked US President Barack Obama to give al-Assad ‘a chance’ to implement the reforms that protesters are demanding.

Authorities on Friday prevented hundreds of Jordanians from demonstrating near Ramtha and in support of protesters across the border in the Syrian city of Daraa.

Source: Monsters and Critics.