Jordan’s State Teachers Hold Open Strike

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordan’s State Teachers Hold Open Strike

Sunday, 8 September, 2019 – 09:00
Jordanian protesters hold Jordanian national flags as they chant slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, after the Friday prayer in Amman, Jordan, June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
Amman – Mohammed Kheir Al Rawashda
Jordan’s public school teachers’ union called for a strike on Sunday in demand for a pay increase. This follows news of the government tying state teachers’ raises to career variables–performance gauges set by the ministry of education–which the union vehemently rejected.

The strike will continue to be held despite ongoing dialogue between the union and state, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, stressing that the union is in debate for a series of escalatory actions should their demands remain unmet.

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that union official Nasser Al Nawasra refused a government offer and maintained the union’s demands for an unconditioned pay increase to all state teachers.

“There was an agreement on this with the government, but the government backtracked on its commitment,” teachers’ union spokesman Noureddine Nadim said in a statement Thursday.

Nawasra told AFP that public school teachers were “the lowest-paid public officials.”

“I’ve been teaching for 24 years, and my salary doesn’t go above 760 dinars ($1,070)” per month, al-Nawasra said.

The teachers’ union was established in 2011 and includes about 140,000 members. Organizers of the demonstration in the capital, Amman, said the government has yet to deliver on a 50 percent wage increase agreed upon in 2014.

It is worth noting that the streets of Jordanian cities saw mass protests last year over spiking consumer prices.

The government said in a statement that it is committed to dialogue with the teachers but that classes should not be interrupted and performance must improve.

Early on, during the teachers’ sit-in, the government arrested 49 teachers who were later released on bail on Thursday.

Government circles accuse Islamist in Jordan of egging the union on for the strikes by several associates.

“We respect the teachers and we salute their role and their mission, but the 50% increase demanded by the union will add JOD 112 million ($158 million) to the state budget,” Ministry of Education spokesman Walid Jallad said in a statement.

Biblical War Revealed on 2,800-Year-Old Stone Altar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Biblical War Revealed on 2,800-Year-Old Stone Altar

an inscription found in ataroth

This 2,800 year-old cylindrical stone altar was recently discovered in a sanctuary within the ancient city of Ataroth in Jordan. It has two inscriptions inscribed on it. The inscriptions appear to refer to events that happened during a biblical war.
(Image: © Photo courtesy Adam Bean)

A 2,800-year-old inscribed stone altar, found within a Moabite sanctuary in the ancient city of Ataroth in Jordan, may shed light on an ancient biblical war.

The altar bears two inscriptions. The words are in the Moabite language and script, while the numerals in the inscriptions are in Hieratic (an Egyptian writing system). The altar appears to date to a time after Mesha, king of Moab, successfully rebelled against the Kingdom of Israel and conquered Ataroth (sometimes spelled Atarot), a city that the Kingdom of Israel had controlled. By this time, Israel had broke in two with a northern kingdom that retained the name Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah.

The Hebrew Bible mentions the rebellion, saying that before Mesha rebelled, Moab had to give Israel a yearly tribute of thousands of lambs and a vast amount of ram wool. The rebellion is also described in the so-called Mesha stele discovered in 1868 in Dhiban, Jordan, which claims that Mesha conquered Ataroth and killed many of the city’s inhabitants.

Related: Biblical Battles: 12 Ancient Wars Lifted from the Bible

The altar was discovered while the sanctuary was being excavated, in 2010. The altar and sanctuary were recently described in the journal Levant.

One of the two inscriptions written on the altar appears to describe bronze that was plundered after the capture of Ataroth. “One might speculate that quantities of bronze looted from the conquered city of [Ataroth] at some later date were presented as an offering at the shrine and recorded on this altar,” the researchers wrote in the journal article.

The second inscription on the altar is fragmentary and harder to understand. Part of it appears to say (in translation) that “4,000 foreign men were scattered and abandoned in great number,” while another part of the inscription mentions “the desolate city.”

“Much remains unclear about this inscription,” the researchers wrote, noting that this inscription may discuss events that occurred during Mesha’s rebellion against Israel and capture of Ataroth.

Fragrant substances like incense, aromatic woods and oils would have been burned on the altar, said lead author Adam Bean, a doctoral student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Biblical clues

The inscribed altar provides confirmation that the Moabites succeeded in taking over Ataroth, said study co-author Christopher Rollston, a professor of northwest Semitic languages and literatures at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The altar also shows that, 2,800 years ago, the Moabites had skilled scribes who used their own script. The inscriptions on the altar “are the earliest evidence we have so far for a distinctive Moabite script,” Rollston told Live Science, noting that the inscription discovered in 1868 used the Hebrew script to write the Moabite language.

“We often talk about the sophistication of the scribal education of ancient Israel, and rightfully so, [but the inscriptions on the altar show] that ancient Moab had some gifted scribes as well,” Rollston said.

Today, Ataroth is called Khirbat Ataruz. Excavations at the site are led by Chang-Ho Ji, who is dean of education at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Originally published on Live Science.

Israel: Temple Mount status quo should be changed so Jews can pray there

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Minister says Temple Mount status quo should be changed so Jews can pray there

Gilad Erdan stresses new arrangement should come from ‘diplomatic agreements and not by force’; draws criticism from Jordan

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during a ceremony for the outgoing Jerusalem police chief at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on February 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks during a ceremony for the outgoing Jerusalem police chief at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on February 7, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday said Israel should push to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, days after clashes at the Jerusalem holy site.

As part of an arrangement in place since the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan, non-Muslims are barred from praying at the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.

Erdan, whose ministry oversees police responsible for security at the Temple Mount, voiced support in an interview for changing the existing arrangements there.

“I think there is in an injustice in the status quo that has existed since ’67,” he told Israel’s Radio 90. “We need to work to change it so in the future Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”

He clarified that he opposes introducing such a change unilaterally.

“This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force,” Erdan said.

Muslim worshipers perform the Eid al-Adha morning prayers at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The remarks drew a rebuke from Jordan, whose foreign ministry warned any change to the status quo at the Temple Mount could have serious consequences.

A ministry spokesman said Jordan, which Israel recognizes as custodian of the Temple Mount as part of the 1994 peace treaty between the countries, sent a letter of protest over the public security minister’s remarks through diplomatic channels.

Talk or even rumors of changes to the status quo arrangement at the holy site are typically met with vociferous protest from the Muslim world, which has accused Israel of attempting to “judaize” the site or expand access for Jewish pilgrims.

Some Jewish activists have pushed for Israel to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount as part of the country’s commitment to freedom of religion. On Sunday Tamar Zandberg, a lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, tweeted that Jews have a right to pray there but the best way to guarantee freedom of worship is through a diplomatic arrangement.

The compound was the site of clashes between Muslim worshipers and police on Sunday over the entry of Jews during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which this year coincided with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av.

On Sunday, Jordan’s foreign ministry slammed Israel for using force against Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount after clashes erupted there.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as the Palestinians, also condemned Israel over the clashes.

Israeli security forces clash with Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

According to Erdan, 1,729 Jews entered the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, a new record high for a single day.

Initially, police announced Sunday that non-Muslims would be barred from entering the Temple Mount, where tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers had arrived during the morning. Hundreds of Jews had gathered at the gates leading to the holy site on Sunday morning.

But following an uproar from right-wing ministers and lawmakers, a first round of Jewish visitors was allowed to enter the site. Several dozen visited under close police escort, but Muslim worshipers began throwing chairs and other objects at the group, and the Jewish visitors left the compound shortly thereafter.

With fewer Muslim worshipers on site than there were in the morning, the second round of visits by Jews took place largely without incident.

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Jordan: Firearm Law Creates Controversy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordan: Firearm Law Creates Controversy

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019 – 11:45
Jordanian man carrying weapon (File Photo: AFP)
Amman – Mohammed Khair al-Rawashdeh
Jordan’s firearms draft law is clashing with a social legacy of arms possession, even though the country’s tradition legalizes the use of weapons within social boundaries and controls.

The government recently sent the 2019 weapons and ammunition draft law to the Lower House’s Legal Committee for revision, in its attempt to crack down on festive firing at celebrations.

The tradition has caused widespread controversy in recent days after the legal committee began discussing the amendment of the weapons and ammunition law drafted by former interior minister Hussein Majali in 2013.

Head of Lower House’s Legal Committee Attorney Abdel Moneim al-Oudat tried to contain part of the objections against the law, seeking to redefine arms possession and its legalization without asking citizens to hand over their weapons.

Oudat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the aim of the law is to regulate weapons possession while maintaining everyone’s right to ownership, taking into regard the rights of carrying light and automatic weapons.

He noted that the law is supposed to redefine the regulations of the Interior Ministry’s capacities in granting possession licenses.

Over the past few years, several social network pages and forums were formed to illegally sell and buy weapons. Authorities regularly announce the seizure of weapons smuggled from the border areas of the Kingdom, especially the north.

MP Oudat called for using the opportunity of presenting the bill to the House of Representatives to adopt a short and medium-term strategy to achieve specific goals through the development of legislation texts, taking into account the inherited social customs and traditions.

Earlier, Interior Minister Salameh Hammad told a number of MPs about the existence of 10 million weapons with Jordanian citizens, which drew criticism, especially that the Minister’s comment did not refer to any accurate statistical figures, which some have described as exaggerated.

Former Interior Minister Samir Habashneh revealed new figures related to arms possession and acquisition licenses, confirming to Asharq Al-Awsat there are 150,000 licenses in the Kingdom.

Habashneh questioned the accuracy of the figures circulated by MPs, quoting Minister Hammad, pointing out that they are much lower. He indicated that it is more important to regulate weapons’ possession; saying their i Jordan’s firearms draft law is clashing with a social legacy of arms possession, even though the country’s tradition legalizes the use of weapons within social boundaries and controls.

The government recently sent the 2019 weapons and ammunition draft law to the Lower House’s Legal Committee for revision, in its attempt to crack down on festive firing at celebrations.

The tradition has caused widespread controversy in recent days, after the legal committee began discussing the amendment of the weapons and ammunition law drafted by former interior minister Hussein Majali in 2013.

Head of Lower House’s Legal Committee Attorney Abdel Moneim al-Oudat tried to contain part of the objections against the law, seeking to redefine arms possession and its legalization without asking citizens to handover their weapons.

Oudat told Asharq Al-Awsat that the aim of the law is to regulate weapons possession while maintaining everyone’s right to ownership, taking into regard rights of carrying light and automatic weapons.

He noted that the law is supposed to redefine the regulations of the Interior Ministry’s capacities in granting possession licenses.

Over the past few years, several social network pages and forums were formed to illegally sell and buy weapons. Authorities regularly announce the seizure of weapons smuggled from the border areas of the Kingdom, especially the north.

MP Oudat called for using the opportunity of presenting the bill to the House of Representatives to adopt a short and medium term strategy to achieve specific goals through the development of legislation texts, taking into account the inherited social customs and traditions.

Earlier, Interior Minister Salameh Hammad told a number of MPs about the existence of 10 million weapons with Jordanian citizens, which drew criticism especially that the Minister’s comment did not refer to any accurate statistical figures, which some have described as exaggerated.

Former Interior Minister Samir Habashneh revealed new figures related to arms possession and acquisition licenses, confirming to Asharq Al-Awsat there are 150,000 licenses in the Kingdom.

Habashneh questioned the accuracy of the figures circulated by MPs, quoting Minister Hammad, pointing out that they are much lower. He indicated that it is more important to regulate weapons’ possession; saying their inventory and their whereabouts is far more important that discussing their amount.

The former minister believes it will be rather impossible to disarm people, stressing it is required to issue an official invitation that provides incentives to all those who license their weapons. This process, he believes, will provide accurate and precise information on arms possession.nventory and their whereabouts is far more important than discussing their amount.

The former minister believes it will be rather impossible to disarm people, stressing it is required to issue an official invitation that provides incentives to all those who license their weapons. This process, he believes, will provide accurate and precise information on arms possession.

Jordan Reviews Gas Agreement With Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordan Reviews Gas Agreement with Israel

Tuesday, 30 April, 2019 – 08:00
Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (Reuters)
Amman – Mohammed Kheir al-Rawashida
King Abdullah II has officially ordered the revision of the terms of the gas agreement with Israel, in a technical report that examines Jordan’s interests from the continuation or the freezing of the agreement, senior Jordanian political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The signing of the gas agreement between Jordan National Electricity Company and the US Noble Energy for the transfer of Israeli gas has sparked a wide internal debate in the past months, after popular movements organized a series of events denouncing economic normalization with Israel.

The government said it is obliged to comply with the agreement, under a penalty clause of one billion dollars.

It added that the project was in progress and some gas pipelines are already installed in a number of northern villages adjacent to the border with the occupied Palestinian territories.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Khaled Bakkar, the head of the finance committee in the Jordanian parliament, said that the deal, in addition to being “blatant normalization” with Israel, is “economically weak” based on the feasibility studies.

He stressed that Jordan’s energy production surpassed the country’s needs, noting that the import of Israeli gas, through Jordan, was only for the benefit of Israel.

Jordan King Meets Abbas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordan King Meets Abbas, Stresses Need to Break Peace Deadlock

Wednesday, 19 December, 2018 – 10:00
A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on December 18, 2018, shows Jordanian King Abdullah II (R) meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Basman Palace in Amman. Yousef ALLAN / AFP / Jordanian Royal Palace
Amman – Asharq Al-Awsat
Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday stressed during talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the need to break the stalemate in the peace process by launching serious and effective peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The Royal Diwan said the King reiterated that negotiations should be based on a two-state solution.

During the talks, which were held at the Basman Palace, the King also stressed “Jordan’s rejection of unilateral Israeli actions, including building settlement units and expropriation of Palestinian-owned lands in the occupied West Bank, which are a real obstacle to achieving just and lasting peace based on the two-state solution.”

He called on the international community to assume responsibility and put pressure on Israel to cease its practices that breed more violence, said the Royal Diwan in its statement.

King Abdullah also reiterated that Amman stands by the Palestinian people “to restore their legitimate and rightful demands,” vowing to exert all efforts along with influential parties and the international community for a solution “that serves Palestinian interests and the rights of the Palestinian people”.

He underscored the importance of maintaining the status quo in Jerusalem as a key to achieving peace in the region, stressing that “Jordan continues to carry out its historic and religious role of safeguarding Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem in line with the Hashemite Custodianship over these shrines.”

Israel Is Working To Forge Ties With Bahrain, Chad And Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said working to forge ties with Bahrain amid unprecedented Gulf opening

News of effort to normalize relations with Manama comes after reports that Israel is eyeing ties with Sudan, as Chadian leader makes historic visit to Israel

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Israel is working to normalize ties with Bahrain, as Jerusalem ramps up its drive to forge more open relations with the Arab world amid shifting alliances in the Middle East driven by shared concerns over Iran, Hebrew-language news sites reported late Sunday.

The reports, sourced to an unnamed senior official, did not detail Israel’s efforts to get closer to Manama, but came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states, during a press conference with visiting Chadian leader Idriss Déby Sunday.

Déby’s historic visit is part of a campaign to lay the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 news Sunday.

The revelation that Israel is actively working to forge closer ties with Bahrain comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is visiting the island kingdom. The prince, who is attempting to rehabilitate his image in the West after the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi, is seen as a key part of a US-backed drive for Gulf states to open their doors to Israel amid shared concern over Iran’s expansion in the region.

In May, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on Twitter that Israel has the right to defend itself against Iran.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, participates in a ministerial meeting with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (US State Department, via AP)

Oman, which has often played the role of regional mediator, welcomed Netanyahu in a surprise visit last month, an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

At a security conference in Bahrain following the visit, Omani foreign minister also offered rare words of support for the Jewish state.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations,” Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

During a press conference with Déby on Sunday, Netanyahu remarked that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

The Israeli premier has for years spoken about the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world, citing not only Iran as a common enemy but also many countries’ interest in cooperating with Israel on security and defense matters, as well as Israel’s growing high-tech industry.

The effort to forge ties with Sudan comes as Khartoum has looked to move closer to Sunni Gulf states after years as an ally of Iran.

In early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According to Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

New era

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Déby said he was “proud” that he had accepted Israel’s official invite. “It can be called breaking the ice,” he said. “We came here indeed with the desire to renew diplomatic relations. Your country is an important country. Your country, like Chad, fights against terrorism.”

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Déby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

File: Chadian soldiers gather on February 1, 2015 near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon. (AFP/Marle)

Under Déby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying in the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has secured reassurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muscat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Jordanians Dash Over for Cheap Shopping at Syria Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordanians Dash Over for Cheap Shopping at Syria Border

Monday, 12 November, 2018 – 09:30
Vehicles are being checked by custom officers at the recently reopened Nassib border post in the Daraa province, at the Syrian-Jordanian border south of Damascus on November 7, 2018. LOUAI BESHARA / AFP
Nassib (Syria) – Asharq Al-Awsat
Near the recently reopened border with Jordan, former Syrian opposition fighter Bahaa al-Masri sells date-filled pastries and sesame biscuits to Jordanians flocking across the frontier to snap up bargains.

Syrian regime forces retook control of the Nassib border crossing from the opposition in July, and last month reopened it after a three-year closure.

Just several hundred meters from the frontier, 26-year-old Masri counts the boxes of biscuits he still has left in a green plastic crate strapped to the back of his motorbike.

“For two weeks I have been bringing sweets from Damascus and selling them to Jordanians who come to buy them here because they’re cheaper,” says the ex-combatant, wearing a black jacket and woollen hat.

“I sell 27 to 30 boxes a day.”

Masri hawks the pastries every day in a rest area on the edge of Syria’s southern province of Daraa for three Jordanian dinars each (around $4, 3.5 euros).

“Thank God, when the border opened there was work again here, after I spent around six years without a job,” Masri tells AFP.

Also looking to cash in are Jordanian drivers, jokingly dubbed “sailors”, who ferry goods from Syria across the frontier for a small commission.

A whole economy has sprung up again since the border begun working.

At the crossing itself cars sit side by side in several long queues waiting to cross over into Syria.

Large trucks, some refrigerated, also wait their turn.

Before the war, “we used to come over to Syria every day — sometimes just to have breakfast”, says Mohammed Sayes, a 25-year-old from Jordan’s adjacent border town of Ramtha.

It was his second such trip since the border reopened “to see the sights, go out and eat” cheap, he says.

“Yes, Syria lived through a war, but we suffered a siege,” says the specialist in tourism management.

“When the border reopened, it was like paradise opened up again.”

Further up, dozens of people stand in line outside a row of small pre-fabricated buildings to have their Jordanian passports stamped by Syrian officials.

Jordanian driver Muflah al-Hurani, 53, is crossing the border to drive a family back home from the Syrian capital Damascus just over 100 kilometers to the north.

He has been going in and out of Syria on an almost daily basis since Nassib reopened, to transport passengers or shop for relatives.

“I bring back fruit and vegetables including potatoes, onions, garlic, as well as children’s clothes made of cotton,” he says.

“And I fill up my car will fuel… It’s less than half the price (in Syria) despite the war.”

Not far off, the former arrivals hall is being repaired after it was damaged in the war.

Damascus hopes the reopening of Nassib will boost its war-ravaged economy.

Before the conflict, the crossing was a key passage for trade, linking Syria — but also Lebanon and Turkey — with Jordan and the Gulf beyond.

Syrian officials have registered more than 33,000 arrivals since October 15, against 29,000 departures.

Among those waiting to head across the border are also Syrians returning home, car roofs piled high with suitcases and blankets.

Last week, a Jordanian official said 6,000 Syrians had gone back to their country, among them 517 registered refugees.

The head of the Nassib crossing Colonel Mazen Ghandour says the number of people heading into Syria is increasing daily, and that most of those coming are Jordanians.

“Most Jordanians come to shop and then go home,” Ghandour says. “Others go to see Damascus.”

A few meters away, a Syrian woman living in Jordan smiles as she waits to cross over with her family for a two-week visit.

“Damascus is a blessing… That’s why everybody wants to visit after being cut off for so long,” she says.

At Least 18 Children Die in Jordan Flash Floods

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

At Least 18 Children Die in Jordan Flash Floods 

Thursday, 25 October, 2018 – 18:00
At least 14 children were killed in flash flooding near the Dead Sea in Jordan. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
At least 18 school children died on Thursday in flash flooding in Jordan, rescuers and hospital workers said.

The students from a private school and their adult chaperones were touring near the Dead Sea when heavy rains led to flash floods in the area, Health Minister Ghazi al-Zaben and official media said.

Twenty-two people were also wounded.

Jordan’s state news agency Petra said Prime Minister Omar Razzaz was at the scene to oversee the rescue mission.

Hundreds of families and relatives converged on Shounah hospital a few kilometers from the resort area. Relatives sobbed and searched for missing children, a witness 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 defense spokesman Captain Iyad al Omar told Reuters the number of casualties was expected to rise.

King says Jordan to reclaim land leased to Israel under 1994 deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA)

 

King says Jordan to reclaim land leased to Israel under 1994 deal

King Abdullah II says Amman will terminate parts of peace treaty which allowed Israeli farmers to use Jordanian land.

by

Jordan's King Abdullah II [File: Jordan Pix/Getty Images]
Jordan’s King Abdullah II [File: Jordan Pix/Getty Images]

Jordan has told Israel that it intends to reclaim two tracts of territories leased under a 1994 peace treaty, King Abdullah II has announced, in a move that was welcomed by activists and civil society groups opposing the deal.

As part of the agreement, Israel leased about 405 hectares of agricultural land in the southern sector of its border with Jordan called al-Ghumar, as well as the small al-Baqura area near the confluence of Jordan and Yarmouk rivers.

The territories – water-rich farmlands currently cultivated by Israeli farmers – were leased for 25 years, with a 12-month notice period needed to prevent an automatic extension. The deadline for renewing the leases is Thursday, October 25.

“We have informed Israel of an end to the application of the peace treaty annexes regarding al-Baqura and al-Ghumar,” the king said on Sunday, according to Petra state news agency.

“Al-Baqura and al-Ghumar have always been on top of my priorities. Our decision is to end the annexes of the peace treaty based on our keenness to take all that is necessary for Jordan and Jordanians,” the king added.

“Al-Baqura and al-Ghumar are Jordanian land and will remain Jordanian.”

عبدالله بن الحسينPrime Minister 

@KingAbdullahII

لطالما كانت الباقورة والغمر على رأس أولوياتنا، وقرارنا هو إنهاء ملحقي الباقورة والغمر من اتفاقية السلام انطلاقا من حرصنا على اتخاذ كل ما يلزم من أجل الأردن والأردنيين

Following the king’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would negotiate with Jordan an extension of the leases, which expire next year.

“We will enter into negotiations with [Jordan] to option an extension of the existing lease agreement,” Israeli media quoted him as saying.

It is unclear how and when the territories will be returned back to Jordan’s ownership. The territories have been under Israeli control since 1948.

Growing pressure

Jordan is only one of two Arab countries that signed a peace treaty with Israel – the other being Egypt.

Observers said the king’s announcement is expected to be positively received by the Jordanian public amid increasing efforts by activists and civil society groups aimed at forcing the government to end the leasing of Jordanian territories to Israel.

It also comes a week after 85 Jordanian members of parliament signed a petition urging the king to intervene so that the lease agreement would not be renewed, according to MP Khalil Atiyeh.

“For over a year, we have been demanding the scrapping of this agreement that was not in the interest of Jordan or the Jordanian people,” Atiyeh told Al Jazeera.

Oraib al-Rantawi, a political analyst in Jordan’s capital, Amman, said “the king saw the popular rejection against keeping this agreement with Israel, especially in the last few months where economic decline in the country has led to mass protests – and he wisely decided against it”.

Thousands of angry Jordanians took to the streets in June to protest against price hikes, an income tax reform bill and official corruption, in a country where national poverty and unemployment rate stand at around 20 percent.

Political activist Hussam Abdallat praised the king’s decision as one that would “endear him to the public”.

Sufyan al-Tell, a former United Nations environmental official and outspoken critic of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, told Al Jazeera the king’s announcement is “timely and reflects the will of the people of Jordan”.

Public sentiment in Jordan against Israel is strong because of its continued occupation of Palestinian territories and its treatment of Palestinians.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ali_reports