Jordanians ask PM to quit over controversial tax bill

            By Laith Joneidi and Zeynep Hilal Karyagdi</p>  <p>AMMAN, Jordan (AA) - Hundreds of people took to the streets in capital Amman on Thursday to protest against a controversial tax bill and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz.

The demonstrators gathered in front of a state building despite bad weather and chanted slogans such as “Razzaz get out!” and “Political reform, our legitimate demand”.

Some protestors who tried to enter the building were dispersed by security personnel.

Jordanian Senate approved a controversial income tax bill last week that has triggered mass protests in the Kingdom. The bill would subject all annual incomes of 8,000 Jordanian dinars (roughly $11,200) or more to additional taxes.

US envoy for Syria to visit Turkey, Jordan

            By Servet Gunerigok</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. special representative for Syria James Jeffrey will travel to Turkey and Jordan between Dec. 4-14, the State Department said Tuesday. </p>  <p>Jeffrey will be joined by Joel Rayburn, deputy assistant secretary of state for Levant affairs and special envoy for Syria.  </p>  <p>&quot;In Turkey, the Ambassador will meet with Turkish leaders and other senior officials to discuss the promotion of stability and security in Syria,&quot; said the department in a statement. </p>  <p>He will also conduct a &quot;High-Level Working Group on Syria&quot; with Turkish officials ‎to address security concerns of the U.S. and Turkey and continue progress on issues of mutual interest regarding the Syria crisis, according to the statement. </p>  <p>&quot;In Jordan, Ambassador Jeffrey will meet with Senior Jordanian officials to emphasize the importance of maintaining pressure on the Syrian regime and encouraging all possible efforts to advance the political track as called for in UNSCR 2254,&quot; said the statement. </p>  <p>Jeffrey will discuss &quot;additional ways to ensure consistent, unhindered access to humanitarian and medical aid&quot; for the refugees of the Rukban camp. </p>  <p>Located in the desert on the Syrian-Jordanian border, the camp is home to nearly 60,000 refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict in Syria. </p>  <p>&quot;He will also meet with U.S. personnel focused on Syria policy issues from around the world,&quot; said the department. </p>  <p>The Syrian regime has imposed a tight siege around the camp, triggering deteriorating humanitarian conditions for its residents. </p>  <p>Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Jordan to organize int’l conference on Al Aqsa mosque

By Laith al-Junaidi

AMMAN (AA) – Jordan will organize an international conference in support of East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque compound on Dec. 20, according to the country’s Islamic affairs minister.

“The Aqsa mosque is facing grave and daily violations and incursions that provoke the sentiments of all Muslims and Arabs,” Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdul Nasser Abul Basal said in a statement on Monday.

He said Israeli violations have been on the rise against the holy site in recent months.

“This reflects a set plan by the [Israeli] occupation to change the historic and legal status quo in the holy site,” he said.

Jordan oversees Muslim and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem.

According to a source in the Jordanian Awqaf Ministry, Turkey will participate in the conference with a high-profile delegation.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital in a move never recognized by the international community.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Mideast conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Amman ‘closely following’ arrest of Jordanian in Israel

By Laith al-Junaidi

AMMAN (AA) – The Jordanian government on Friday said it was “closely following” the reported arrest of a Jordanian national in the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

“The government is closely following up on an incident that took place in Eilat on Friday involving a Jordanian citizen,” read a government statement carried by Jordan’s Petra news agency.

“An envoy from Jordan's embassy in Tel Aviv has been dispatched to Eilat to follow up on the case,” it added.

Petra also reported that the Jordanian national — whose name was not given — had been “working in Israel” at the time of his arrest.

According to reports in the Israeli media, a Jordanian employed at Eilat’s seaport was arrested on Friday after allegedly attacking two Israeli co-workers.

Israel settlements thwart 2-state solution: Jordan king

By Laith Joneidi

AMMAN (AA) – Jordanian King Abdullah II has reiterated his opposition to Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, describing the trend as “an obstacle standing in the way of a two-state solution”.

The king made the remarks in a Wednesday message directed to the UN’s Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

“Resolving the issue of Palestine is the key to achieving peace and stability in the Middle East,” he said.

King Abdullah also stressed his country's commitment to preserving Jerusalem’s historical Arab, Muslim and Christian identity and the Hashemite custodianship over the city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites.

He delivered his message on the eve of the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is marked each year on Nov. 29.

“Jordan will continue to exert all efforts to counter any attempt to impose a new reality [in Jerusalem] or change its historical and legal status," the king said.

Jordanian senate approves amended income tax bill

By Riham Ali

AMMAN (AA) – The Jordanian Senate has approved a controversial income tax bill that has triggered mass protests in the kingdom, according to the official Petra news agency.

The legislation was approved during a session held by the second chamber of parliament on Monday.

Last week, the House of Representatives, the first chamber of parliament, approved an amended version of the bill.

The controversial bill was greeted with mass protests in Jordan after it had been approved by the previous government in late May and forced Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki to tender his resignation.

The bill would subject all annual incomes of 8,000 Jordanian dinars (roughly $11,200) or more to additional taxes.

Jordan king, Abu Dhabi crown prince hold talks in Amman

By Laith al-Junaidi

AMMAN (AA) – Jordanian King Abdullah II met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday in Amman to discuss means of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the economic, developmental and political fields.

According to Jordan’s official Petra news agency, the two men during their meeting stressed the “deep ties” between their two countries.

King Abdullah, for his part, hailed the role of the United Arab Emirates (of which Abu Dhabi is the capital) “in supporting the [Hashemite] kingdom and the UAE’s many contributions to development projects in Jordan,” according to Petra.

The news agency went on to report that the issues of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, the Middle East peace process and the 2002 Arab peace initiative had figured high on the agenda of talks.

During the meeting, the king also reportedly bestowed the Order of Al-Hussein bin Ali — Jordan’s most honorific title — on the visiting crown prince.

Syria, Jordan blamed for refugee camp crisis

ANKARA (AA) – A Syrian NGO has blamed the Syrian and Jordanian authorities for a humanitarian crisis unfolding in a refugee camp on border between the two countries.

In a statement, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SHHR) said six refugees, including five children, have died in Al-Rukban camp of starvation, disease and lack of medicine since last month.

It blamed the Syrian regime for the humanitarian crisis in the desert camp and accused the Jordanian government of banning the entry of humanitarian aid into the camp.

There was no comment from the Jordanian government on the accusation.

Located in the desert on the Syrian-Jordanian border, the Al-Rukban camp is home to nearly 60,000 refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The Syrian regime has imposed a tight siege around the camp, triggering deteriorating humanitarian conditions for its residents.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Jordan demans halt of ‘Israeli attacks’ on Gaza

By Ahmet Salih Alacaci

ANKARA (AA) – Jordan on Tuesday called for an end to Israeli attacks and the protection of civilians amid renewed violence in the Gaza Strip.

According to state-run Jordan News Agency (PETRA), the Minister of State for Media Affairs and government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat warned against an “escalation” in the Palestinian enclave and condemned “Israeli attacks” that led to several deaths.

She underlined the need for the political process to reignite negotiations and “resolve the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution.”

Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza late Monday after rockets were fired against Jewish settlements. Three Palestinians were martyred in the attacks and nine others injured.

The Israeli army said 200 rockets were fired from Gaza since Monday but the country’s air defense system, Iron Dome, intercepted 60 with most of the rest falling on empty land.

Rockets fired from Gaza injured 29 Israelis, including a reported Israeli soldier who sustained heavy injuries.

Death toll from Jordan floods rises to 13

By Laith al-Junidi

AMMAN (AA) – The death toll from flash floods that ravaged Jordan last week has risen to 13, according to the Jordanian authorities on Monday.

“The body of a child was found in al-Haidan in the central Madaba province,” Maj. Iyad al-Amro, a spokesman for Jordan’s civil defense directorate, told Anadolu Agency.

He, however, did not give details about the age of the child.

Jordanian authorities had earlier put the death toll at 12 and nine people injured.

The kingdom was hit by heavy rain last week, causing torrential flooding in a number of cities in central and southern Jordan.

Last month, at least 21 people were killed in a rash of severe flash flooding in Jordan’s western Dead Sea region.