- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

ISRAEL

Emir to fund Palestinian stadium

DOHA, Qatar — Qatar has donated $6 million to build a soccer stadium in an Arab town, the first time a Gulf Arab state has donated money inside Israel, an Arab Israeli lawmaker said yesterday.

“Qatar has donated $6 million to build a soccer stadium in Sakhnin,” in northern Israel, Ahmed al-Tibi told Agence France-Presse. “We were informed during a meeting with officials of the Qatari Olympic Committee that Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani responded to a request I made four months ago,” he said.

“It is the first Arab initiative on this scale in support of [Arab citizens of Israel] against deliberate Israeli discrimination,” said Mr. al-Tibi, who is visiting Qatar at the head of a delegation of Sakhnin officials. He urged other Arab states to “follow in the footsteps of Qatar, as well as Jordan, which offers student scholarships.”

JORDAN

Islamists jailed in tourist plot

AMMAN — Jordan’s state security court yesterday jailed two Islamists for plotting attacks on foreign tourists in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba and liquor shops, judicial sources said.

Sofian Samamra and Yussef Jaghameen were sentenced to five years in prison each for conspiracy. An accomplice, Mamduh Abu Libbeh, received 18 months for arms possession, the sources said. The verdicts can be appealed.

Relatives of the three men in court broke down in tears when the verdict was read, while the defendants shouted, “Allahu akbar” (God is great).

A fourth accused, Ghaleb Jaffal, died of cancer while awaiting trial. All charges against him were dropped posthumously in line with Jordanian law.

EGYPT

Border opened to Mecca pilgrims

RAFAH CROSSING, Gaza Strip — Egypt and the Palestinians opened their shared border yesterday for 24 hours to allow hundreds of Muslim pilgrims to travel from Gaza to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Israel had closed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt before withdrawing from the area last month, and the sides have yet to reach an agreement on how to operate the border. Israel wants to monitor the crossing, but the Palestinians seek control of their border.

The Palestinian Authority and Egypt agreed yesterday to open the border for a single day to allow Palestinians to begin pilgrimages to Mecca during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began Oct. 4 and runs to Nov. 2. Mecca is Islam’s holiest city. By midmorning, at least 400 Palestinians had crossed into Egypt and dozens more waited in line to have their passports checked.

Weekly notes …

Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri yesterday defended Syria during a visit to Qatar against accusations that it continues to meddle in Lebanon’s affairs. “There is no longer Syrian interference in Lebanon at all,” since Damascus ended a 29-year military presence in April, he told reporters in Doha. “Indeed, there are other interferences,” Mr. Berri said without naming any of those involved. … Two Pakistani men were sentenced to public whippings and four- and five-year prison terms for cultivating hashish, reports in Riyadh said yesterday. The daily al-Madina said the two worked on a Saudi farm and planted 270 marijuana seedlings without the knowledge of their employer, who noticed the illicit crop and alerted police. Hashish is made from compressed resinous material of the cannabis plant.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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