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Iran, Qatar fail to politicise Haj

Haj and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements regarding Israeli colonies were the two topics that dominated headlines in the region’s newspapers

Image Credit: AP
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
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Haj is the biggest Islamic event that brings together Muslims to perform their religious rites safely, wrote UAE’s Al Bayan. “This is thanks to the immense efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims. As happy as the pilgrims are as they perform their rites, shock and sadness descended on the Iranian and the Qatari regimes who were wishing for a disaster during the sacred rituals. Iran had attempted to politicise numerous times, and every single year Iran would raise issues concerning Haj. It is now joined by Qatar, who failed in its attempt to politicise Haj and forbade Qataris from travelling to the holy lands, and the initiative of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz to dispatch planes to transport Qataris for Haj was like a slap in the face of the Qatari regime.”

With one-and-a-half billion Muslims worldwide, should one billion of them decide on performing Haj — which is one of the pillars of Islam — at least once in a lifetime, it will take up to 500 years for the task to be achieved, noted the London-based Pan-Arab paper Asharq Al Awsat. “The annual capacity of Muslims performing Haj stands at an average two million — limited by Makkah’s ability to host the gathered pilgrims. In order for a majority of Muslims to fulfil their aspirations of visiting Makkah, one alternative emerges: Increase the number of Umrah pilgrims, and not the Haj pilgrims. Currently, the number of pilgrims stands at seven million, but the Saudi transformational Vision 2030 aims to boost the numbers to 30 million per year. It is an ambitious plan and will require a comprehensive development of services, related facilities, and a major fine-tuning of top supervising government agencies.”

Two-state solution

Netanyahu’s recent assertion that he has no intention of dismantling Israeli colonies in the West Bank is a stunning admission that he never wanted peace and that as long as he’s around, there never will be, wrote the Saudi Gazette.

“As such, Trump should make clear his dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s comments because it undercuts the attempts of his son-in-law Jared Kushner at finding a solution. Netanyahu’s comments run counter to decades of stated US policy calling for colonies to be evacuated as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Officially, the Israeli government supports a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians, which would entail relinquishing control of much of the West Bank for a Palestinian state. However, despite public pronouncements, the Netanyahu government never really believed in the two-state solution. Many of Netanyahu’s right-wing Cabinet members have steered away from that commitment; Netanyahu is distancing himself as well.”

Speaking in an illegal colony, Netanyahu promised that ‘colonies will not be uprooted’, said Lebanon’s Daily Star.

“Meanwhile, just 25 kilometres away, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was still dreaming of a two-state solution. ‘Dream’ is the right word, as it’s all the two-state solution will ever be. The irony is that the situation today is closer to a nightmare, as the Israeli occupier oppresses and kills Palestinians, who, in response, are offered hot-air statements around the world. The international conspiracy against Palestine, which is spun through the UN, makes every other plot seem in the world body’s halls seem like nothing more than a safari trip. So if Guterres wants to preserve a sliver of dignity for his organisation, he should admit it has no more power than a debate club.”