King of Jordan lashes out at Israel’s settlement policy, warns of peace collapse consequences to global security

UAE reaffirms support for Palestinian cause on international day of solidarity with Palestine

Israeli Peace Now Movement says Palestinian property in Jerusalem stolen by Jewish National Fund

Netanyahu postpones demolition of Moroccan Gate bridge in Jerusalem as settlers continue assaults

Tension sparked on Lebanon’s southern borders with Israel after rockets fired

Returning the Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table is in the best interest of Jordan and Germany, King Abdullah II of Jordan said on Tuesday, warning that the continued lack of peace will destabilize the region.

“It is in our vested interest, both Jordan and Germany, to make sure that the Israelis and Palestinians come back to the peace tables, and we will be working under the European coordination to see how we can achieve that,” he stressed.

The King held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this week to discuss efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East and the challenges facing the region.

The two leaders also discussed bilateral ties and means to develop them in all fields.

During the meeting, King Abdullah highlighted the important role that Germany and the EU play in increasing international efforts to revive Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, a Royal Court statement said.

His Majesty stressed the negotiations must lead to an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, living in peace with Israel.

“We discussed the peace process or the lack thereof and how much of a destabilizing effect this is going to have on the progress of the whole region,” he said at a joint press conference with Merkel.

“We noted the importance of continued financial support to the Palestinian National Authority. It is crucial that they continue to get financial support to build the infrastructure and improve the economy,” the King said, calling on Israel to unfreeze their transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians.

“We hope that the Israelis will look at releasing their funding in that area that will have a direct impact on obviously school, hospitals and keeping the vital needs of the Palestinian people,” he told reporters.

“We have also underscored the need for the Israeli government to halt settlement activity, which is particularly affecting the process of us trying to get the Palestinians and the Israelis together and we are very concerned of the settlement activity that we see in East Jerusalem.”

“We spoke very briefly about Syria, and again, we underscored the decision taken by the Arab League recently,” King Abdullah, who returned to the Kingdom later on Tuesday, added, stressing that the Kingdom is part of the Arab consensus.

“We in Jordan do not believe in military intervention into Syria but the implications of what is going on are alarming especially on the humanitarian level,” he warned.

He noted that Jordan will be part of the league’s technical committees to “see what Jordan’s role is in the economic sanctions and how these discussions will affect Jordan”.

For her part, Merkel said Germany is working to revive Middle East peace talks, expressing concern over the lack of progress in reviving them.

She commended the Arab League’s actions regarding Syria, voicing Germany’s support for the pan-Arab body’s decision to impose sanctions on the Syrian regime, a course of action in line with the EU’s policy regarding the troubled country.

On bilateral ties, the King expressed his pride in the “unique” ties between Jordan and Germany, noting that the two countries “see eye to eye” on most issues.

“I am very encouraged with the level of cooperation and especially successful joint projects, such as the German Jordanian University,” he said, voicing hope that the two nations “build on that potential”.

“We have talked about the Arab Spring and about the development of political reform in Jordan,” the Monarch said.

“Again we look to Germany - the government, the parliament - to help us in the transition of political reform especially in the establishment of new political parties, which is going to be our major challenge in the future.”

Merkel commended the steps that Jordan has taken to achieve reforms, noting that Germany will remain a friend and supporter of the Kingdom.

She added that her country will increase its cooperation with Jordan in the field of renewable energy.

The two leaders also discussed the investment opportunities that the Kingdom offers to Germany.

“We think there are a lot of German firms that have tremendous opportunities not only in Jordan because of our stability and human resources in mining, energy, renewable energies and infrastructure, but also Jordan as the stepping stone into the building blocks for the countries in our region,” the King said.

During his visit to Berlin, His Majesty also met with President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert and members of the Bundestag’s committee on foreign affairs, briefing them on Jordan’s ties with Germany and its stance on regional developments and the peace process, the Royal Court said in the statement.

The committee members commended Jordan’s comprehensive reform drive and offered their country’s experience to benefit Jordan in political and legislative fields.

The King also received at his residence in Berlin German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to discuss regional developments and bilateral ties.

Prince Talal, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, King’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury and Jordan’s Ambassador in Berlin Mazen Tal accompanied His Majesty during his visit.

The UAE in the United Nations has reaffirm its solidarity with the Palestinian people and support for their just quest to achieve legitimate aspiration to self-determination, like other people in the world.

"On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates reaffirm their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their support for their just quest to achieve their legitimate aspiration to self-determination, like other people in the world," Ahmed Al-Jarman, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations, said this before the 66th Session of the General Assembly on items entitled: "The Question of Palestine, The Situation in the Middle East".

He added: " Despite the political importance given by the international community in 1947 to UN resolution 181, which resulted in changing the map and the future of the Middle East and creating the State of Israel, the independence of Palestine under this resolution has not yet been realized due to the continued occupation and the groundless political obstacles placed by Israel to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State to this day".

Full text of the speech of Mr. Ahmed Al-Jarman:

Mr. President, I have the honor, on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, to thank His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Salam Diallo, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the distinguished members of the Committee for their great efforts to support the Palestinian cause.

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates reaffirm their solidarity with the Palestinian people and their support for their just quest to achieve their legitimate aspiration to self-determination, like other people in the world.

Mr. President, Despite the political importance given by the international community in 1947 to UN resolution 181, which resulted in changing the map and the future of the Middle East and creating the State of Israel, the independence of Palestine under this resolution has not yet been realized due to the continued occupation and the groundless political obstacles placed by Israel to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian State to this day.

The UAE, which has always supported all regional and international endeavors made so far, including those made by the Quartet, with the aim of achieving a permanent settlement for the Palestinian issue through peace negotiations, expresses its deep concern at the continued breakdown in these negotiations which have reached a stalemate due to the repeated breaches of the Israeli government of the simplest legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the principles of peace accords.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Peace Now Movement said that for the last 20 years the Jewish National Fund has been acting to transfer Palestinian property in East Jerusalem to the settlers.

Tens of dunams of land and homes housing dozens of Palestinians in Silwan were evacuated by the JNF through various legal proceedings and transferred to settlers; three more families might lose their homes shortly. In many cases the JNF does this through its subsidiary Himnuta, whose shares are held by the JNF.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, dozens of properties in Silwan were declared absentee properties and sold to the Development Authority. The Development Authority and the Israel Land Administration are required to administer their assets equally without discrimination based on nationality.

Conversely, the JNF and Himnuta operate according to a JNF memo that provides that its assets be leased or transferred to the possession of Jews only. In order to bypass the requirement of equality, the authorities in the early 1990s used the JNF and Himnuta to transfer property in Silwan to the settlers, the Israeli NGO added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Jerusalem municipality and the Public Security Ministry to delay the execution of a demolition order for the Mugrabi Bridge, which connects the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, a senior official told Haaretz on Sunday.

According to the official, Friday's decision to delay the demolition by one week, forestalled the destruction of the bridge that was scheduled to commence late Saturday night and last for 72 hours.

However, the site's sensitivity, as well as, Egypt's warnings that the move could lead the Tahrir Square protestors to focus their anger on Israel, prompted Netanyahu to delay the demolition.

The premier is expected to hold an extensive discussion on the matter in the next few days in an attempt to resolve the issue.

The wooden bridge has allowed tourists, security forces and Jewish visitors to enter the Temple Mount via the Mugrabi Gate, located next to the Western Wall.

Police demanded its construction after part of an unused ramp leading up to the Mugrabi Gate buckled on a snowy night in February 2004.

The unsound Mugrabi Bridge has turned into a hub of tension between Israel and both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat ordered the demolition, since the bridge was deemed unsafe, with a temporary bridge to be built in its place, allowing safer passage to the Temple Mount.

In recent days, the Islamic Waqf – the religious authority which manages the Temple Mount – launched a public campaign against the demolition, arguing the demolition was part of an Israeli plot to damage the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A similar campaign was started in Jordan, with the backing of the Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places. Israel's peace treaty with Jordan formalized Jordan's status as overseer of Jerusalem holy sites, with an emphasis on the Temple Mount.

Sources have indicated that Netanyahu's decision to delay the demolition was also prompted by Jordanian warnings that the move could incite riots in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Earlier this year, Jordanian and Israeli officials reached a draft agreement that would regulate the replacement of the old bridge with a newer one, with Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser making a rushed trip to Amman in order to sign the deal.

However, Jordan backed away from the agreement at the last moment, and the two countries have been trying to resolve the issue ever since.

Meanwhile, a volley of rockets fired from Lebanon slammed into Israel on Tuesday, prompting the Israeli military to return fire, and raising new tensions in an already volatile region.

An obscure Islamist group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, the first such attack in two years, which comes amid fears that unrest rocking Syria could spill over into Lebanon, or provoke new conflict with Israel.

In a statement, the Israeli military said "a number of rockets" landed in the western Galilee region without causing any casualties and that Israeli troops "responded by targeting the origin of the fire."

Israeli media reported that a total of four Katyusha rockets hit the area, including one that struck a gas tank and caused a fire.

In Lebanon, a military spokesman said at least one rocket was fired from the region of Rumaysh, and at least four Israeli rockets were fired in response.

The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) also confirmed the attack and urged maximum restraint to prevent an escalation.

UNIFIL commander Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas said the attack was clearly aimed at undermining stability in the area.

"It is imperative to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack and we will spare no efforts to this end, working in cooperation with the Lebanese army," he said, adding that additional troops had been deployed.

The United States condemned the attack.

"We condemn the firing of rockets from Lebanon toward Israel," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

"This was a provocative act. It undermines the stability of Lebanon," he said. "We call on all parties to exercise restraint."

UN Lebanon envoy Robert Watkins called the attack a "very unfortunate incident" and hoped that the cross-border exchange "would be limited to what happened this morning and that there would not be any heightening of hostilities."

Residents of Ayta al-Shaab, near Rumaysh, said they heard four rockets being fired from nearby and seven rockets fired from Israel. There were no reports of casualties.

The region of Rumaysh is largely controlled by the powerful militant party Hezbollah, but the group did not comment on Tuesday's incident, which was claimed by an obscure Al-Qaeda-linked group calling itself the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam.

The same group claimed responsibility for the last rocket attack from southern Lebanon against Israel in 2009.

The attack came as an uprising in Syria has deepened a rift between the pro- and anti-Syrian camps in Lebanon, sparking fears that the conflict might spill over.

The unrest has also raised fears in Israel that pro-Syrian Hezbollah or other groups might attack the Jewish state to draw attention away from the uprising.

In Israel, military officials told army radio they wanted to avoid an escalation and said that the response would be "limited and selective."

Both Israeli government and military officials called on the Lebanese government and military to prevent rocket fire towards the Jewish state.

In Beirut, President Michel Sleiman denounced the attack on Israel, saying it was an "isolated" incident that breached his country's commitment to international resolutions.

"This... marks a violation of the stability in the south and a breach of UN Resolution 1701, Lebanese laws and Lebanon's obligations to the international community, primarily the United Nations," he said in a statement.

The most recent exchange of fire along the always tense Israeli-Lebanese border was on August 1, when soldiers from the two countries opened fire along the Blue Line, the UN-drawn border.

That incident came almost a year after Lebanese and Israeli troops traded fire along the same border, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist along with a senior Israeli officer.

In 2006, Israel launched a war against Hezbollah that destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure and killed more than 1,200 Lebanese -- mainly civilians -- and 160 Israelis, mainly soldiers.

And in May 2011, tensions once again flared as protesters massed on the border between the two countries to mark the anniversary of the 1948 creation of the Jewish state, which Palestinians term the "nakba," or catastrophe.

Israeli troops killed 10 people and wounded more than 110 others as protesters tried to flood across the border from Lebanon.