AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday expressed a commitment to the “protection” of Jerusalem’s holy sites, meeting in Amman with Muslim and Christian religious leaders from the city.
A statement from the royal court said the king told the delegation, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Jordan “will always be yours”.
“It is the duty of every Muslim to discourage Israeli aggression against… holy sites in Jerusalem,” the king said, according to the statement.
The king made a long-standing commitment to preserving “peace and harmony” at the flashpoint site of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary, Islam’s third holiest site. The Temple Mount is revered by Jews as the historic site of the two Jewish Temples, making it Judaism’s holiest site.
Jordan sees itself as the custodian of the Temple Mount — a status Israel does not recognize, although it acknowledged the kingdom’s “special role” at the site in the countries’ peace treaty. Jordan in 1994 became the second Arab country to recognize and sign a peace treaty with neighboring Israel, after Egypt.
In his comments, King Abdullah also praised “Jerusalem… efforts to protect” the holy sites and “emphasized the need to stop the displacement of Christians, as well as the repeated attacks on churches, religious people and Christian property in Jerusalem,” according to the statement.
Christian places of worship in Jerusalem have seen a wave of attacks in recent months, some blamed on Jewish extremists.
Churches in Jerusalem appealed to the government on Friday to ensure that Christians are able to worship unhindered during and after Easter, expressing concern over the increasing violence and acts of desecration over the past year.
The Catholic Christian community of Jerusalem marked Palm Sunday and attended mass in religious processions in the Old City.
The Jordanian king’s comments came after tensions with the Israeli government over far-right statements denying the existence of the Palestinian people and fears of violence flaring up during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began on March 23.
During Sunday’s meeting the Jordanian king “asked the international community to take a stand against the exclusionary and racist statements made by some Israeli officials recently”, the statement said.
Last month, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the Old Religion party drew international attention after saying in a speech at a conference in Paris that the Palestinian people were an “invention” while standing behind a map of ” Greater Israel” which includes. Jordan of today.
Tensions flared with Jordan and the kingdom recalled Israel’s envoy in protest, with Amman calling the “reckless provocation and violation of international norms”.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry sought to downplay the backlash, tweeting that “Israel is committed to the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan” and that “the position of the State of Israel, which recognizes the Hashemite territorial integrity, has not changed.” Kingdom,” in Hebrew and English.
National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi later called Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi to give a similar assurance of Israel’s commitment to its peace with Jordan.