Jul 28, 2013
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday said the Kingdom will continue its efforts to safeguard Islamic and Christian sites in the holy city of Jerusalem, support the steadfastness of Muslim and Christian Jerusalemites and preserve their legitimate rights in the city.
During a meeting with key figures from Jerusalem, King Abdullah said Jordan will not spare any efforts, whether political, diplomatic or legal to protect the city, highlighting the Kingdom’s historic role in securing the holy sites, according to a RoyalCourt statement.
The Monarch highlighted that Jordan’s role is increasingly important in light of the agreement signed by His Majesty and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in March this year.
The agreement confirmed both Jordan’s role as custodian of the holy sites of Jerusalem and Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, the statement said.
During Sunday’s meeting, the King directed the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs to furnish the Dome of the Rock and Masjid Al Marwan, which is an underground praying area on the southeast side of Al Aqsa.
According to Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Mohammad Qudah, the furnishing will be financed personally by the King.
The Monarch noted that Israel’s continued settlement activities undermine the chances of regional peace, which should be achieved on the basis of the two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative, which will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state on Palestinian national soil with East Jerusalem as its capital, within the 1967 lines.
His Majesty also warned of the forced migration of Muslim and Christian Jerusalemites and the dangerous consequences this may have on the peace process, the statement added.
He stressed that any attempts to Judaise Jerusalem and any of its holy sites — especially Al Aqsa Mosque — will not be accepted under any pretext.
The King also denounced the so-called Sharansky compromise, which seeks to expand and raise the area adjacent to the Buraq Courtyard in Al Aqsa Mosque complex at the expense of other Islamic parts of Haram Al Sharif.
He also rejected Israel’s attempts to demolish Bab Al Magharbeh, the largest entrance for non-Muslim visitors to Al Aqsa Mosque complex.
Also during the meeting, the King commended the steadfastness of Jerusalemites and their commitment to
safeguarding the Arab identity of their city and protecting its holy sites.
Qudah said the King’s meeting with Jerusalem’s residents and those responsible for safeguarding the holy city’s Islamic and Christian sites comes in appreciation of their efforts and hard work.
He noted that the ministry is committed to implementing His Majesty’s vision and directives in preserving Jerusalem and its holy sites and supporting its people’s steadfastness in the face of all Israeli violations and attempts to Judaise the old city and change its identity, according to the statement.
Jerusalem’s religious leaders who attended the meeting thanked King Abdullah for Jordan’s “unwavering support for the Palestinian people and the Kingdom’s efforts to secure their rights”.
Head of the Islamic Awqaf Council in Jerusalem Sheikh Abdul Atheem Salhab said Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque are a “red line” for His Majesty, who has constantly opposed any attempt to change the city’s identity.
Salhab said the attacks against Al Aqsa have increased lately, especially by settlers storming Al Aqsa under the protection of the Israeli forces, and Israel’s violations of the jurisdictions of the awqaf and the mosque’s administration, in addition to obstructing the restoration works.
He also cited the attempts by the right-wing ministers in the Israeli government to legitimise Jewish prayers inside Al Aqsa, warning of a “era-bound and location-based” division plan of the mosque, to eventually rebuild what they allege to be the Solomon’s Temple, the statement added.
Director General ofJerusalem’s Awqaf Department Sheikh Mohammad Azzam Khatib thanked His Majesty on behalf of all Jerusalemites for his constant defence of the holy sites and Jerusalemites, emphasising that King Abdullah has made his custodianship a “true Hashemite heritage”.
Khatib cited a number of Hashemite reconstruction works completed recently, including the rehabilitation of the early-warning system throughout the mosque, restoration of the decorations and mosaics inside the Dome of the Rock and the southern mosque (Qibli) project, in addition to the procurement of 200 tonnes of lead to plate the mosque and the roof of the Islamic Museum.
Khatib and a number of Jerusalemites stressed that the Hashemite Fund for the Reconstruction of Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock should be considered a financial portfolio for the funding of projects aimed at protecting the holy sites and support the Jerusalemites.
Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini reiterated the importance of the agreement signed by His Majesty and Abbas in March, noting that it “reaffirmed” the status of King Abdullah as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, indicating that the accord has given moral support to the people of Jerusalem and helped solve many of the outstanding problems they face.
Husseini said the agreement has boosted Jordanian-Palestinian coordination to the best effective ranks at local and international levels, according to the statement.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal expressed appreciation for King Abdullah’s efforts to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, calling for further concerted efforts to protect the identity of the holy city, which he said is the responsibility of everyone.
“We came from Jerusalem –– Muslims and Christians –– to meet at the Hashemites home and thank His Majesty who always stands by us the same way his father and grandfathers have done to preserve and support Jerusalem,” Twal said.
He indicated that despite challenges facing Jerusalem, the people of the holy city prove everyday their persistence to cling to the city’s heritage and preserve its identity from Judaisation.
“We feel proud to see thousands of Muslims coming from all over Palestine to Jerusalem every Friday. This scene affirms that we are stillstanding on this holy land,” Twal added.
The delegation included members of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council as well as imams and employees from the waqf, in addition to political and religious figures and academics.
It also included representatives from Jordanian commissions working in the holy city and Christian leaders.