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Middle East

Muslims enter Jerusalem holy site Al-Aqsa mosque, for first time in two weeks



Jerusalem : Jerusalem’s Muslim community has been told it can return to praying inside the Al-Aqsa compound after Israel removed the latest security measures from the entrance to the holy site.

Speaking Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that prayers would take place at noon, leading to the conclusion of a boycott of the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
He added that a meeting of the Palestinian leadership would be held afterward “to discuss other decisions taken in response” to the removal of the security measures.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque say they are satisfied with Israel’s removal of security measures.

Muslim religious leaders have called upon worshippers to enter through all gates collectively for afternoon prayers on Thursday.
They also called for all mosques in the area to shut down on Friday and direct worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque instead.
The announcement came after Israeli police said cameras that were installed at the site have been taken down, two days after metal detectors were also dismantled.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani (2-L), Al-Aqsa director, and other clergymen join as Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray outside Jerusalem's Old City.

Sheikh Omar Kiswani (2-L), Al-Aqsa director, and other clergymen join as Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras close to the entrance to the sacred site following an attack in which two Israeli police officers were killed.

The Jordanian Authority in charge of the site, the Islamic Waqf, encouraged worshippers to return to prayers Thursday morning inside the compound.

Waqf leaders had not entered al-Aqsa to pray after Israel’s decision to install new security measures, and many Muslims follow the lead of the Waqf.

Previous declarations from political and religious leaders had increased the likelihood of widespread demonstrations in and around Jerusalem following Friday’s midday Muslim prayers. The demonstrations often turned into clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli soldiers, fueling a wave of unrest instead of defusing the situation.

According to police, three of the nine gates leading up to the site are open, with the remaining entrances set to be opened gradually.

The security measures are now the same as they were before the July 14 attack at the site.

“Overnight, throughout the evening, yesterday all the remaining structures and cameras were removed from the area, which were set up after the terrorist attack,” Israeli police told CNN.

“At the moment that’s the situation on the ground. Police are in and around different areas in the Old City. We are making security assessments leading up to Friday prayers.”

Middle East

Abbas says to address UN assembly on issues causing suffering to Palestinians



Mahmoud Abbas

Ramallah, Sep 16 : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he will address the upcoming UN General Assembly on issues causing suffering to Palestinians.

Abbas made the remarks during a meeting he chaired for Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Xinhua reported.

“We will go to the United Nations to confront the world with the issues that our people are suffering,” said Abbas, who is scheduled to deliver a speech at the UN headquarters in New York on September 27.

The addressed issues include the Israeli decision to demolish Al-Khan Al-Ahmar Bedouin village east of Jerusalem, and the status of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy city, he added.

“We are consulting with our brothers in Jordan to form a unified position to go to the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice on what is going on at the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Abbas noted.

The Palestinian President said the final decision will be made by the PLO central council after he returned from the UN assembly.

The United States and the Palestinians have almost severed ties since US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017.

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Middle East

Iran to increase uranium enrichment if EU fails



Iran President

Tehran, Sep 16 (IANS) Iran would increase uranium enrichment if the European Union (EU) fails to implement its obligations following the US withdrawal from the Iranian landmark nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday.

“The Europeans and the other signatories must act in order to compensate for the effects of the US sanctions,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Press TV.

He downplayed the possibility of Iran’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, but cautioned the EU partners that Iran might act if they fail to secure Iran’s interests in the deal.

“Oil and banks” are the “litmus test,” he said, alluding to the EU pledges to help Tehran in the face of US re-imposition of sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and banking transactions.

European parties need to decide whether being ready to follow their words, Zarif said, adding that “they should also decide if they want to submit to US pressure.”

Iran and six world powers, namely Russia, Britain, China, France, the United States and Germany, struck a landmark agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme in 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

However, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw Washington from the deal on May 8 and re-impose sanctions, including oil embargo, on Iran.

Iran has held several rounds of talks with France, Britain and Germany to revive the blocking statute, a 1996 regulation that prohibits EU companies and courts from complying with foreign sanctions laws.

Iran has incessantly urged Europe to take “practical and tangible measures” to protect Iranian interests since the US pullout.

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Middle East

Palestinians still committed to making just peace with Israel: Abbas



Mahmoud Abbas

Jerusalem, Sep 14 (IANS) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that the Palestinian people are still committed to making just peace with Israel.

Abbas made the remarks during a meeting at his headquarters in Ramallah with the leaders of three main religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in the Palestinian territories.

He stressed on the necessity of making peace with Israel based on international resolutions related to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, Xinhua reported.

Abbas was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA as saying that the Palestinian people deserve an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, “which will be open for the three main religions”.

“Palestine is a model to be followed and a good example in coexistence and social peace,” the Palestinian leader said.

The religious leaders affirmed to Abbas their support to his policies that aim at achieving the hope and aspiration of the Palestinian people, namely freedom and independence.

Abbas is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 27.

Ahmad Majdalani, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said that Abbas’ speech “will be like the worksheet for the coming stage”.

He told the official Voice of Palestine Radio that the Palestinians will carry on with their steps that will be escalated within the coming period, in response to the American and Israeli policies and measures that were taken to terminate the Palestinian cause.

The Palestinian Authority has been boycotting the US administration led by President Donald Trump as a peace broker, after Trump announced last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and relocated the US ambassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city in May.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since 2014 after nine months of US-sponsored talks failed to make progress to resolve the decades-long conflict.

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