Palestinians break with Saudi Eid date for first time in years

Published June 5, 2019
The Palestinians will celebrate Eid on a different day from Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1994 due to differences in the sighting of the moon, leading some to question why. — Reuters/File
The Palestinians will celebrate Eid on a different day from Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1994 due to differences in the sighting of the moon, leading some to question why. — Reuters/File

GAZA CITY: The Palestinians will celebrate Eid on a different day from Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1994 due to differences in the sighting of the moon, leading some to question why.

Some Palestinians even suggested on social media the decision could be related to politics ahead of the unveiling of the US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian officials flatly denied the claim related to the Eidul Fitr festival that follows the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Others joked about the different dates, with one social media comment proposing Palestinians fast for a half-day on Tuesday to bridge the division.

A statement by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories carried on official media on Monday night confirmed the moon had not been sighted and hence Eid would be celebrated on Wednesday, a day later than Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia celebrated Eid on Tuesday while Iran will do so on Wednesday.

Ekrama Sabri, head of the supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, said it was the first time since the Palestinian Authority was formed in 1994 that they were holding Eid on a different day to Saudi Arabia.

“We in Palestine do not have tools like those in Saudi Arabia and the geography of our country does not help to see the moon,” he said, explaining the difference.

He denied any political issues, pointing out that Egypt, a close Saudi ally, will also celebrate Eid on Wednesday.

A Palestinian Islamist group refused to accept the mufti’s decision, announcing it would observe Eid on Tuesday.

The decision in any case set off suspicions.

The Palestinians have been seeking to block the US peace plan, accusing President Trump of blatant pro-Israel bias.

Saudi Arabia is attending a US-led economic conference in Bahrain on the issue on June 25-26, but the Palestinians have decided to boycott it and encouraged other Arab states to skip.

Some Palestinians speculated online that the decision was a message.

Ali Mawazi posted on Facebook his support for the decision, saying that those who opposed it were “wrong, specifically in the atmosphere of the so-called deal of the century”, a nickname used by Palestinians for the US peace push.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019

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