Tag Archive: Land of the Arab Revival


By JT – Jun 16,2020

AMMAN — The Kingdom’s largest nature reserve, the Dana Biosphere Reserve in southern Jordan, has reopened after rehabilitating its facilities to receive visitors after the tourism sector ground to a halt as a result of precautionary coronavirus measures and lockdowns.

Director of the reserve Amer Ruffou’ said that “good tourist activity” is being witnessed at the facility as local tourism is returning back to normal as part of the recovery phase following the government’s decision to open tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants across the country, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Ruffou’ said in a press release that the Dana Biosphere Reserve in the Tafileh Governorate, which covers a “spectacular landscape” along the face of the Great Rift Valley and is home to a variety of wildlife, had refurbished its facilities, including the Guest House, Al Rummanah Camp and the Old Tourist Village, as part of its preparations to welcome visitors.

The nature reserve’s management also launched promotional programs to attract tourist groups, he said, noting that the day and overnight visits are subject to public safety and health protection regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19, which are being observed by both visitors and workers.

Ruffou’ noted that a special team had been assigned to enforce safety precautions according to government instructions, with temperature-taking devices and sanitisers at the entrances of the guest house and the camp.

He said that the guest house consists of 24 hotel rooms and offers quality food and drinks, while the Al Rummanah Camp includes 30 tourist tents equipped with health facilities. The camp offers traditional meals, hot drinks and overnight accommodation.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/dana-reserve-reopens-after-facelift.

By JT – Jun 04,2020

AMMAN — Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Omar Razzaz on Thursday said that procedures announced by the government to reopen new economic sectors will have a positive impact on the economy.

Speaking from the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, Razzaz announced an array of phases for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which include a series of procedures and decisions to reopen further economic and service sectors.

The phases involve five levels of risk, ranging from “critical” to “low”.

The prime minister noted that these procedures coincide with the lifting of quarantines on several areas in Mafraq, Irbid and Jerash and other governorates.

He also stated that a total of 498,000 Jordanian workers have benefited from protection programs launched by the Central Bank of Jordan, the Social Security Corporation and the National Aid Fund during the pandemic.

Razzaz said that countries that were late in dealing with the pandemic “have paid the price twice”, and suffered economic and health repercussions, noting that Jordan’s early preparations contributed to the results seen at present.

As for the Defense Law, the prime minister said that the government is looking forward to the day on which it issues the last defense order once the Kingdom enters the “low risk” level.

Razzaz noted that the government is committed to applying the Defense Law at its minimum levels, without affecting private property or public freedoms.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/pm-hails-jordans-early-measures-additional-sectors-reopen.

By JT – Jun 04,2020

AMMAN — The government on Thursday announced a decision allowing citizens to move freely between 6am and 12 midnight every day and cancelling the comprehensive curfew as of Saturday.

During a press conference at the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh said that shops are permitted to open between 6am and 11pm as of Saturday.

The minister added that mosques and churches will reopen for prayers as of Saturday, with worshipers allowed to go to mosques on foot to perform the dawn prayer, which falls within the curfew hours.

The government has also cancelled the odd-even traffic system for vehicles and permitted the public to commute between governorates.

Public transport vehicles will be allowed to operate at a 50 per cent passenger capacity, the minister added, noting that people over the age of 70 and those with chronic illnesses are still banned from movement.

The minister also announced the resumption of domestic aviation movement and tourist sites for domestic tourism, in addition to the reopening of nurseries, restaurants, hotels and motels.

Adaileh said that many sectors will remain closed in the current phase, such as wedding halls, condolence houses, youth activities (such as scout camps), cinemas, public parks, play areas, entertainment centers, schools and kindergartens, universities, colleges and institutes and training and cultural centers, as well as businesses that organize weddings, conferences, exhibitions, cultural events and festivals.

Visits to prisons and houses for the elderly will be allowed, he noted.

The minister said that these procedures coincide with the reaching of the “moderate risk” level.

He added that the new measures are subject to continuous monitoring and revision depending on the Kingdom’s epidemiological status and risk levels.

Also speaking at the conference, Health Minister Saad Jaber said that Jordan has entered the moderate risk level after registering less than 10 local COVID-19 cases for seven consecutive days or after witnessing random test results that are 0.5 to 1 per cent positive.

The minister noted that the standards governing travelling from and to Jordan will depend on the epidemiological situation in other countries.

Jaber also announced a plan to build an intensive care hospital in the Kingdom.

For his part, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri said that the private sector has supported the government in dealing with the pandemic. The government has adopted a gradual approach in reopening the sectors after the full lockdown on the basis of health indicators.

The minister pointed out that the Kingdom now produces more than 1.5 million face masks daily, up from 30,000 masks prior to the emergence of the pandemic.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/govt-further-eases-lockdown-most-sectors-resume-operations-saturday.

By JT – Jun 04,2020

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Thursday participated in the Global Vaccination Summit held by the United Kingdom in cooperation with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The virtual summit, convened by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, gathered representatives of 50 countries, including 25 heads of state and government, the UN secretary general, the director general of the World Health Organisation and representatives of Gavi, according to a Royal Court statement.

In remarks at the summit, King Abdullah said Jordan, from the beginning of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, has been calling for equal access to medication and vaccination.

“Jordan is ready to utilise its experienced pharmaceutical sector regionally, to help mass-produce the vaccine, once available,” His Majesty added.

“With an accumulated investment volume of nearly $1.8 billion, our pharmaceutical sector has the potential to ramp up its R&D capacity, with international support, for the benefit of our entire region,” the King said.

His Majesty noted that Jordan’s swift action enabled it to control the spread of COVID-19, adding that the Kingdom is ready to offer its expertise where needed.

The King reaffirmed that “a better global integration is the way forward, a re-globalization that builds on all our strengths and resources, for the benefit of all.”

Guaranteeing equal access to vaccine and medication is in the interest of the entire international community, His Majesty said, as it would help re-establish the global mobility needed by all economies.

 

Following is the full text of the King’s remarks:

 

“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

 

Dear friends,

Let me start by thanking the UK and Prime Minister Johnson for organising this summit.

From the beginning of this pandemic, Jordan has been calling for equal access to medication and vaccination. It is growing ever clearer that we cannot afford to leave any country behind.

Guaranteeing equal access is not only the moral and just approach, it is also in the interest of the entire international community, to re-establish the global mobility needed by all economies.

This is why a better global integration is the way forward, a re-globalisation that builds on all our strengths and resources, for the benefit of all.

Policymakers and companies should plan for large-scale manufacturing and distribution to ensure we move towards global immunisation.

Jordan is ready to utilise its experienced pharmaceutical sector regionally, to help mass-produce the vaccine, once available. With an accumulated investment volume of nearly $1.8 billion, our pharmaceutical sector has the potential to ramp up its R&D capacity, with international support, for the benefit of our entire region.

It is our responsibility, as an international community, to make sure the most vulnerable are not left behind. In my region, many are internally displaced or live as refugees.

Jordan alone hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and others. It is a priority for us to afford them the same care we give Jordanians. But this would not be possible without the support of our friends.

Jordan had to take tough measures to deal with COVID-19, but our swift action enabled us to control its spread. We are ready to offer our expertise where needed. And we appreciate our friends for being there, when we need them.

We hope this international collaboration continues to address the economic and humanitarian repercussions of COVID-19. Only together, will we be able to chart the path forward.

Thank you.”

The summit was held with the goal of mobilizing international funding and resources to guarantee equal global access to the COVID-19 vaccine, once available, in addition to immunizing 300 million more children and delivering vaccines in 68 of the poorest countries around the world, the statement said.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/global-vaccination-summit-king-says-jordans-pharmaceutical-sector-ready-mass-produce.

By JT – May 28,2020

AMMAN — Decisions and measures implemented by the government to deal with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic are mainly based on the recommendations of the National Anti-Pandemic Committee, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Omar Razzaz said on Thursday.

Chairing a meeting of the committee at the Prime Ministry, Razzaz stressed that the government has adopted the majority of the committee’s recommendations, turning them into decisions and measures to confront the pandemic, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The prime minister noted that these decisions have taken into consideration health, security and economic and social aspects in a way that meets greater national interests.

The premier praised the “great efforts” of the committee and the teams working in the field, which have played a “prominent role” in taking measures and immediate precautions that have contributed to mitigating the impact of the pandemic in the Kingdom.

Industry, Trade and Supply Minister Tareq Hammouri said that the work sustainability committee is awaiting the recommendations of the anti-pandemic committee and the possibility to implement them.

Health Minister Saad Jaber said that the committee has been a “main partner” to the government in combating the pandemic even before it reached the Kingdom, noting that several proactive medical measures that Jordan adopted have made the Kingdom a “model” in fighting the disease.

Members of the committee referred to the possibility that the Kingdom will see a rise in case numbers, highlighting the importance of following preventive measures, particularly social distancing, in markets and closed places and wearing face masks.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/pm-praises-%E2%80%98prominent-role%E2%80%99-national-anti-pandemic-committee-virus-fight.

By JT – May 28,2020

AMMAN — Officials on Thursday announced that mosques and churches in the Kingdom will open their doors according to health and public safety measures next week.

Speaking during a press conference at the Prime Ministry on Thursday, Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh said that Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Omar Razzaz chaired a Cabinet meeting dedicated to discussing the recommendations of the National Anti-Pandemic Committee.

The meeting resulted in a decision to reopen mosques on June 5 according to health and public safety measures, Adaileh said, noting that the regulations for comprehensive curfews will be amended as of June 5 to allow people to go to mosques on foot on Fridays.

The minister also noted that the government is considering other recommendations to reopen more sectors, stressing that this “does not mean that the threat is gone” and that such a decision would result in increased case numbers.

He called on people to wear masks while visiting public and private departments and to adopt public safety measures.

Awqaf Minister Mohammad Khalaileh, also speaking at the conference, said that in the first phase of reopening mosques, only Friday prayers will be allowed to take place according to certain public safety measures that will be announced later, stressing that people must wear masks and take their prayer rugs with them upon visiting the mosques.

Khalaileh called on those aged 50 and above and those with illnesses not to go to mosques. He also said that Friday sermons will not exceed 10 minutes and guides for safety measures will be distributed to mosques for the congregation to follow.

Results of this initial reopening will be evaluated before the authorities open mosques for all prayers, he said.

Also speaking at the conference, President of the Jordan Churches Council Archbishop Christophorus Attallah announced that churches in the Kingdom will reopen on June 7, calling on the elderly and those who are sick to avoid attending churches.

Meanwhile, Jordan registered eight new coronavirus infections on Thursday, increasing the caseload to 728 since the outbreak of the pandemic, Health Minister Saad Jaber said at the conference.

Jaber noted that the new cases include two truck drivers at the Omari border crossing, one of whom is Jordanian and was transferred to Prince Hamzah Hospital.

Six Jordanians who recently returned to the Kingdom from Russia also tested positive for the virus, the minister added.

A total of 11 people left hospitals on Thursday, increasing the number of recovered patients to 497 and leaving 162 currently receiving treatment, he said, noting that epidemiological investigation teams conducted 3,100 tests nationwide on Thursday.

Source: The Jordan Times.

Link: http://jordantimes.com/news/local/mosques-churches-reopen-next-week.

May 15, 2020

BRUSSELS (AP) — Jordan’s king warned Israel of a “massive conflict” if it proceeds with plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, as European Union foreign ministers agreed on Friday to step up diplomatic efforts to try to head off such a move.

Israel has vowed to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, which could spell the end of the long-stalled peace process by making it virtually impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moved a step closer by reaching an agreement to form a government after more than a year of political deadlock.

President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which overwhelmingly favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians, gave a green light to annexation, but most of the rest of the international community is strongly opposed.

“Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II said in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published Friday. “What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” he said.

Jordan is a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah declined to say whether annexation would threaten that agreement. “I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East,” he said.

At a video-conference, EU foreign ministers reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution and opposition to any annexation. The ministers, whose countries are deeply divided in their approach to Israel, agreed to ramp up diplomatic efforts in coming days with Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and Arab countries.

“We reaffirm our position in support of a negotiated, two-state solution. For this to be possible, unilateral action from either side should be avoided and, for sure, international law should be upheld,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after chairing the meeting.

“We must work to discourage any possible initiative toward annexation,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels. “International law has to be upheld. Here, and there, and everywhere.” He made no mention of the use of sanctions, saying only that the EU will use “all our diplomatic capacities in order to prevent any kind of unilateral action.”

The ministers had planned to welcome the formation of a new Israeli government and offer the bloc’s cooperation, but Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, have postponed the swearing-in of their controversial new Cabinet as the Israeli leader tries to quell infighting within his Likud party.

The ceremony, originally scheduled for Thursday, is now planned for Sunday to give Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party. Their coalition agreement allows him to present an annexation proposal as soon as July 1.

The EU has long been committed to a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, with the possibility of mutually agreed land-swaps. Israel seized east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want all three to form their future state.

The bloc has already rejected Trump’s Mideast plan, which would allow Israel to annex about a third of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with heavily conditioned statehood in scattered territorial enclaves surrounded by Israel.

“In our opinion, an annexation is not compatible with international law,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday. “From our point of view, changes to borders must, if at all, be the result of negotiations and happen in agreement between both sides.”

Jordan has been lobbying the EU to take “practical steps” to make sure annexation doesn’t happen. In a statement, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi “stressed the need for the international community and the European Union in particular to take practical steps that reflect the rejection of any Israeli decision to annex.”

Associated Press writers Geir Moulson in Berlin and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Friday 26/10/2018

DEAD SEA – At least 18 people, mainly schoolchildren and teachers, were killed on Thursday in a flash flood near Jordan’s Dead Sea that happened while they were on an outing, rescuers and hospital workers said.

Thirty-four people were rescued in a major operation involving police helicopters and hundreds of army troops, police chief Brigadier General Farid al Sharaa told state television. Some of those rescued were in a serious condition.

Many of those killed were children under 14. A number of families picnicking in the popular destination were also among the dead and injured, rescuers said, without giving a breakdown of numbers.

Hundreds of families and relatives converged on Shounah hospital a few kilometers from the resort area. Relatives sobbed and searched for details about the missing children, a witness said.

King Abdullah cancelled a trip to Bahrain to follow the rescue operations, state media said.

Israel sent search-and-rescue helicopters to assist, an Israeli military statement said, adding the team dispatched at Amman’s request was operating on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.

Civil defence spokesman Captain Iyad al Omar told Reuters the number of casualties was expected to rise. Rescue workers using flashlights were searching the cliffs near the shore of the Dead Sea where bodies had been found.

A witness said a bus with 37 schoolchildren and seven teachers had been on a trip to the resort area when the raging flood waters swept them into a valley.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: https://middle-east-online.com/en/least-18-people-die-flash-flood-jordan%C2%A0.

Thursday 25/10/2018

AMMAN – A decision by Jordan’s King Abdullah II to reclaim territory leased to Israel for a quarter of a century was spurred by domestic pressures and the Arab nation’s struggling economy, experts said.

The move announced at the weekend risks sparking a crisis between the neighboring countries which signed an historic peace treaty in 1994, they warned.

King Abdullah said his country had notified Israel that it wants to take back two border areas: Baqura in the northern province of Irbid and Ghumar in the southern province of Aqaba.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would like to open negotiations with Jordan to keep the current arrangement in place.

The Hashemite kingdom said it was willing to engage in talks but insisted on its right to reclaim the land.

Israel occupied Jordanian territories including Ghumar in the Six-Day War of 1967 and seized Baqura when its forces infiltrated the kingdom in 1950.

During peace talks, Jordan agreed to lease the lands to Israel for a 25-year renewable period under annexes of the treaty that lay down a one-year notice period, with the kingdom retaining sovereignty.

King Abdullah’s announcement on Sunday came days before the end of this notice period.

“The king had two choices: either risking a crisis with Israel, or risking protests and a worsening of the internal situation,” said Oraib Rantawi, director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman.

“Jordanians on the street are angry, especially over the economy, and they don’t need new crises or disappointments,” he said.

‘Nationalist card’

Jordan, largely dependent on foreign aid and devoid of natural resources, has been plagued by economic woes, with a jobless rate of 18.5 percent and around 20 percent of the population teetering on the brink of poverty as consumer prices rise.

The king’s announcement came after a series of demonstrations calling for the return of Baqura and Ghumar organised by lawmakers, political parties, trade unions and activists.

The move was greeted with joy by many Jordanians.

“The Jordanian people are happy with this courageous decision,” said teacher Mohammed Hassan.

Suad Yussef, a housewife, said it was an “historic moment”.

For Kirk H. Sowell, a Jordan-based analyst for Utica Risk Services, the decision was “the least that King Abdullah can do to play the nationalist card”.

“It is definitely directed at the domestic audience” in a country with “loads of internal socio-economic problems” but “few options in pushing back at Israel,” Sowell said.

Rantawi said that “going back on this decision is impossible” as it would be likely to destabilize the kingdom.

In June, a parliamentary delegation from the opposition Islamist bloc Al-Islah visited Baqura, where Jordanians need permission to enter.

The delegation was headed by Saleh al-Armuti, who said “the decision is that of the king, the people’s government and the parliament and we strongly support and defend it”.

“We will go further by demanding the cancellation of all agreements signed with the Zionist enemy,” he said.

‘Suicidal choice’

Opinion polls have repeatedly found that the peace treaty with Israel is overwhelmingly opposed by Jordanians, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

The Baqura zone amounts to six square kilometers (2.3 square miles) and Ghumar covers four square kilometers — land where Israeli farmers cultivate cereals, fruit and vegetables.

Rantawi does not rule out the possibility that Israel will “impede the implementation of the Jordanian decision”.

“Jordan could face a political, economic and legal battle with Israel,” he said.

“Netanyahu wants negotiations to extend the agreement, which would be a suicidal choice for Jordan.”

Relations between the two countries have been tense since the killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli embassy security guard in Amman in July last year.

But Sowell said he believes Israel does not have the legal means to challenge the Jordanian decision.

“Israel has means of pushing back on Jordan, by cutting off the water, or not lobbying for Jordan in (the US) Congress as they normally do, but whether they should is a different question,” he said.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: https://middle-east-online.com/en/what-pushed-jordan-reclaim-land-israel.

August 31, 2018

Former Jordanian lawmaker Hind Al-Fayez said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has lost his legitimacy and everyone can assert that he is not working to benefit Palestinians.

Al-Fayez told Shehab.ps that the Palestinian Authority, which refuses to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, confirms that it does not represent the Palestinians and that it is administered by Israel.

“While Gaza is suffering from siege and hardship and its people live in the largest prison in the world, Abbas imposes more sanctions on it. Does he care about the homeland or the people’s interest?” she asked.

“Mahmoud Abbas and his sons, who have billions of dollars in international banks, does he care about Gaza, the homeland or the people?” Al-Fayez added, stressing on the importance of the Great Marches of Return and breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip.

“The Palestinian child in Gaza uses paper and stone against the occupation, while the authority can only arrest resistance and partake in security coordination with the occupation,” she added.

Al-Fayez said the marches have strengthened Gaza’s position and – for the first time in the history of Arab-Israeli relations – there is a strong Arab party and that party is Gaza.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180831-ex-jordan-mp-abbas-lost-his-legitimacy/.