Posts Tagged ‘ Jerusalem ’

Israel considers new plans to isolate Palestinians in Jerusalem

November 27, 2017

Israeli officials are in disagreement over a plan to cut off Palestinians in Jerusalem by installing a separate municipality for the city’s non-Jewish residents.

The plan to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods located behind the illegal Separation Wall is being promoted by Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin. He suggested that the establishment of a separate municipal entity to govern these areas would enable Israel to tackle the demographic threat posed by Jerusalem’s non-Jewish communities.
Elkin, according to the Jerusalem Post, holds the view that these neighborhoods are wide open to the West Bank but are still a part of the capital and attract non-Israeli Palestinians – which leads to mixed marriages – it poses a demographic challenge for the Jewish majority in the city.
Israeli sources also reported that a plan advanced by Elkin to separate East Jerusalem neighborhoods located beyond the security barrier has gained steam and moved from the legislative phase to the planning phase. It is likely to create another layer of discrimination against Palestinians and could see as many as 150,000 people living under a two-tier system with many services and provisions denied to the non-Jewish residents of Jerusalem.
Israel already has a number of laws that entrench racial segregation in the country. For example Israeli courts granted legal legitimacy to Jewish only Admissions Committees to be able to reject persons residing in an area based on nationality and race. More than 434 small communities in rural towns with control over 43 per cent of residential areas can reject Palestinian citizens of Israel and other marginalized groups from residing in them on the basis that they are “unsuitable” for Jewish communities.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has opposed the plan, opting instead to give his backing for a plan that would seek to attract more settlers in the occupied city instead of separating Jerusalem due to concerns over the demographic threat posed by Palestinians.
Elkin appears to prefer a more immediate solution, although he too suggested last week plans for a million more settlers to be moved into the West Bank. The Israeli minster further dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state in the occupied Palestinian territory, while giving his backing for the plan saying that “there is no other option but the state of Israel, certainly between the Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] sea there will be one state.”
Elkin’s proposal appears identical to Tel Aviv’s creation of two separate municipalities in Occupied Hebron in September. The decision, according to critics “formalizes the system of apartheid in the city and could potentially lead to new projects and budget transfers to the Hebron settlers.”
Source: Middle East Monitor.
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Jordan, Turkey compete to woo Jerusalem

Author: Adnan Abu Amer

May 19, 2016

Translator: Pascale el-Khoury

Jordan and Turkey are vying for power in Jerusalem, and Turkey appears to be gaining the upper hand at this point.

In a clear sign of the decline of the Jordanian role in Jerusalem, Jordan recently called off its agreement with Israel to install surveillance cameras in Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards. The cameras were supposed to help control the security situation on the Temple Mount, but the Palestinian Authority wasn’t consulted — and wasn’t happy about it.

At the same time, Turkey’s activity in Jerusalem seems to be gaining momentum. On April 25, Istanbul hosted the “Thank you Turkey” festival organized by Arab nongovernmental organizations in appreciation of Turkey’s role in the protection of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. The festival was attended by Khaled Meshaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, and Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the mufti of Jerusalem and preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The festival also aimed to thank Turkey for increasing financial and in-kind aid to residents of Jerusalem and implementing a series of charity and development projects in the city at a cost estimated at tens of millions of dollars.

This may indicate a switch between the roles of Jordan and Turkey in Jerusalem: Turkey seems to be gaining influence, while Jordan seems to be losing its influence.

Sabri told Al-Monitor, “The Turkish aid to the holy city contributed to its reconstruction in general and alleviated the suffering of Jerusalemites by funding social and humanitarian projects. We, the Jerusalemites, thank Turkey’s president, government and people for their aid to the city.”

Sabri urged Turkish citizens and institutions to visit Jerusalem, in light of declining Arab support. He added, ”Arab countries are preoccupied with their internal problems and bloody conflicts and have neglected this city, not to mention the competition over influence between Turkey and Arab countries.”

Perhaps a comparison and look back at how Jerusalemites welcomed visiting Jordanian and Turkish officials indicates the changing influence and implicitly reflects the great appreciation the Jerusalemites have for Turkey. Jerusalemites welcomed Mohammed Gormaz, the Turkish minister of religious affairs, with great warmth when he visited May 15, 2015, and he was asked to deliver the Friday sermon at the mosque.

Only a week later, a visit by Ahmed Halil, Jordan’s chief of judges, must have embarrassed him. He was prevented from delivering the Friday sermon or praying at the mosque. There was an attempted attack on the Jordanian delegation, which included Minister of Religious Endowments Hayel Daoud, forcing the group to flee from an Al-Aqsa courtyard.

Meanwhile, Turkey has done more to aid Jerusalem. Some Turkish institutions are implementing charitable projects such as Tika Agency, the Meshale International Student Association and Kanadil Organization.

Bulent Korkmaz, Tika program coordinator in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor, “Turkey’s projects in Jerusalem are humanitarian and relief projects. These include completing the student housing project at Al-Quds University at a cost of $10 million, equipping the Sharia Court archives, restoring the elderly care home, providing thousands of suhur [breakfast] and iftar [dinner] meals in the holy month of Ramadan, supplying electronic equipment to Jerusalem’s schools, restoring houses and shops and increasing the number of classes of some schools.”

Two reasons may have led to Turkey’s growing influence in Jerusalem. First, the Turks have strong feelings of solidarity toward their Muslim brothers — Sunnis in particular — who urge them to support Al-Aqsa Mosque. Second, Turkish leaders aspire to play a regional role similar to that of the Ottoman Empire in the Arab and Muslim world. This probably explains Turkey’s increased support in the Palestinian territories.

“The competition between the Turks and the Jordanians in Jerusalem is very obvious, especially with regard to aids and promotion of religious tourism,” Khalil Tufakji told Al-Monitor. Tufakji is a Palestinian expert on Jewish settlements and head of the Maps and Survey Department at Jerusalem’s Orient House, the PLO headquarters in Jerusalem.

He noted that the countries “are not publicly declaring their competition, yet Turkey’s financial aid and its support for religious tourism in Jerusalem indicates an increased Turkish influence in Jerusalem and, in turn, a remarkable decline of Jordan’s influence.”

“The competition between Jordan and Turkey has an economic dimension,” he added. “Amman wants Turkish tourists, initially heading to Jerusalem, to travel by road and pass through Jordan, which will generate revenues for its treasury, instead of taking a direct flight from Ankara Airport to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, without passing through Jordan.”

Turkish delegations continue to visit Jerusalem; most recently, Adnan al-Husseini, Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs, received a delegation from the Turkish Green Crescent Society visiting Jerusalem on April 21 to discuss Jerusalem issues.

Turkey has been working on promoting its ties with Jerusalem for some time. Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) issued a decision in April 2015 to include Al-Aqsa Mosque into the Umrah religious pilgrimage. Turkish citizens will stay three days in Jerusalem, four days in Medina and seven days in Mecca.

Former Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Khaled Abu Arafa told Al-Monitor, “Jordan and Turkey’s competition in Jerusalem is no secret, yet they made sure to keep it muffled so as not to sour their relations. It is clear that Ankara has an agenda … aimed at increasing its influence in Jerusalem, to encourage its citizens to intensify their visits to Al-Aqsa Mosque and to provide scholarships to large numbers of Jerusalemites to complete their studies in Turkey.”

He added, “Turkey has been sending its officials to Jerusalem without coordination with Amman, angering Jordan, which considers itself the guardian of Jerusalem, though there is no agreement binding Turkey to inform Jordan in advance of its intent to make an official visit to Jerusalem. It seems that Israel is concerned about the increasing influence of Turkey in Jerusalem, given that Turkey is a strong state, while Jordan does not seem to have the same strength.”

Turkey’s strength is manifested by its currently thriving economy, whereas Jordan faces a difficult economic situation. A study published in April by Israeli researcher Pinhas Inbari reveals that Israel condones Turkey’s increased influence in the holy city, even though Israel is concerned about the proliferation of Turkish flags and photos of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the streets of Jerusalem.

The Jordanian-Turkish competition for influence in Jerusalem has been reflected for years in political speeches. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s prime minister until recently, stated on several occasions that Turkey considers Jerusalem one of its “domestic affairs.” On Nov. 7, 2014, he said, “Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is our cause.”

In September 2015, Erdogan warned that Turkey will not tolerate Israel’s continued aggression against Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the hill where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, and said Israel is playing with fire. On the other hand, Jordanian King Abdullah II said in February that the protection of the mosque falls within the royal family’s guardianship over Jerusalem.

Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Commission for Support of Jerusalem and Holy Sites, told Al-Monitor, “Jordan is the guardian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, while Turkey is providing Jerusalemites with financial aid and relief services, given its status as a rich country with a powerful economy, while Jordan’s economy is stumbling.” (Jordan is just beginning to recover from a $3 billion budget deficit and is still burdened by the cost of hosting 1 million Syrian refugees and severely strained by regional instability.)

However, Issa added, “Coordination between the two countries is ongoing to serve Jerusalem and Jerusalemites.”

Turkey has close ties with Hamas, whose relations with Jordan have been almost nonexistent since Hamas leaders were ousted from Amman in 1999 and numerous Qatari mediations failed to mend the ties.

The PA’s relationship with Jordan was marred by Jordan’s agreement in October with Israel to install the surveillance cameras at the mosque without consulting the PA. PA President Mahmoud Abbas also fears Jordan’s support of his archenemy, Mohammed Dahlan, who visited Amman in April. This situation may work in Turkey’s favor, allowing it to extend its influence in Jerusalem at Jordan’s expense.

The spread of Turkish flags, Turkish shawarma restaurants and photos of Erdogan on the walls of Jerusalem indicate that the Turks are serious about increasing their influence in the city.

Source: al-Monitor.

Link: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-jordan-palestine-jerusalem-competition-influence.html.

Jordan axes plans to install cameras at Al-Aqsa

April 19, 2016

Jordan has called off a project to install surveillance cameras at Al-Aqsa Mosque because the matter is in “dispute”, the country’s prime minister announced yesterday.

In a statement to the official Petra news agency, Abdullah Ensour said the cameras were to be used to monitor and document the repeated Israeli violations of the Muslim holy site.

He added that “the goal of having these cameras was to gain legal, political and media wins in the face of repeated attacks on the sanctity of the holy sites that were denied by Israelis because of the lack of documentation. Moreover, the greatest benefit of this project would have been increasing the ties of Muslims in all parts of the world to the holy places, and increasing their sympathy and support.”

Israel had initially tried to block the project, “but we managed to overcome”, he explained.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160419-jordan-axes-plans-to-install-cameras-at-al-aqsa/.

Palestinian Authority to move institutions to Jerusalem

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Friday that measures to move sovereign institutions to Jerusalem are underway, Anadolu has reported.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the PA foreign ministry in Ramallah, Abbas said that this would be achieved soon, but through “political and diplomatic” efforts. The foreign ministry building was funded by China and a Chinese delegation headed by the Deputy Prime Minister Wang Yan attended the ceremony.

“Today in Ramallah, but soon in our capital Jerusalem, where we will move all our sovereign institutions,” Abbas said. “This is what we are working on and this will be through political and diplomatic efforts, which the foreign ministry and our embassies abroad are taking part in.”

Hailing PA-Chinese friendship, Abbas added that China has been and is still one of the largest supporters of the Palestinians’ hope for freedom and independence. “We are looking forward to receiving you in our eternal capital, East Jerusalem,” he told the Chinese delegation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/22277-palestinian-authority-to-move-institutions-to-jerusalem.

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.
Link: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=390064.

UNESCO endorses Jordan-Arab proposal over Jerusalem’s Bab Al Magharbeh

AMMAN (JT) – UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee on Monday voted in favor of a Jordanian and Arab decision on the city of Jerusalem and Bab Al Magharbeh.

The decision was made during the 35th session of UNESCO’s executive board, which was held yesterday in Paris with the participation of a Jordanian delegation, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

In yesterday’s decision, UNESCO voiced its “deep” concern over Israel’s continued excavations at the old Jerusalem’s gate and the area surrounding it, in addition to Israel’s failure to provide the World Heritage Center with information on these excavation works, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mohammad Kayed.

Under the decision, UNESCO also called on Israel to stop its works in the Old City immediately and requested that the World Heritage Center detail in its periodic reports to the World Heritage Committee all obstacles placed by the Israeli side and its justifications for not providing the center with the required information in this regard.

Bab Al Magharbeh, or Moroccans Gate, was listed, as part of East Jerusalem, upon a Jordanian request on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1981 and the list of endangered world heritage sites in 1982.

Kayed said the unified stance by participating Arab states in yesterday’s session facilitated adopting the Arab proposal, noting that the Jordanian delegates have cooperated with their Arab counterparts tand other peers to reach an accepted formula for the decision, according to Petra.

He voiced regrets over the failure of reaching an agreement with some concerned parties due to the Israeli “intransigence” on some of the articles included in the decision regarding its unilateral measures on the land, which led the committee to adopt the resolution by voting instead of making the decision unanimously.

The spokesperson noted that the Arab decision has succeeded in extending UNESCO’s monitoring mechanisms to include all Jerusalem after it was limited to Bab Al Magharbeh, which leads to Al Aqsa Mosque.

Kayed said the decision was worded with a “a new level of rhetoric” in tackling the Bab Al Magharbeh issue in a way that addresses some of the major Jordanian concerns, noting that UNESCO also expressed its regrets for Israel’s plans to excavate the gate and build a bridge next to it before the committee’s meetings.

In May, the Israeli occupation’s municipal authorities in Jerusalem started with advanced steps to demolish the upper bridge that connects Bab Al Magharba, the gate that leads to Al Aqsa Mosque.

Jordan has rejected the move and came up with alternative plans that entail the renovation of the old bridge. UNESCO accepted the Jordanian blueprints.

Furthermore, the agency renewed yesterday its support for Jordan’s plan to renovate the bridge and thanked the Kingdom for its cooperation to safeguard the site as part of its role in safeguarding Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, where the Kingdom has jurisdiction.

Kayed said the Jordanian decision entails expanding its authority to monitor the gate and demands Israel to stop its archaeological excavations in Bab Al Magharbeh bridge, Petra reported.

28 June 2011

Source: The Jordan Times.
Link: http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=38927.

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