By Chana Ya’ar and Ari Soffer
Jordanian King Abdullah II added fuel to the ongoing debate over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount Sunday, when he told visiting Muslim and Christian dignitaries from Jerusalem that he will continue his efforts to “safeguard” Islamic and Christian sites in the holy city of Jerusalem from what he termed “Judaization.”
The Hashemite monarch also expressed his willingness to “support the steadfastness of Muslim and Christian Jerusalemites and to preserve their legitimate rights in the city,” according to a statement from the Royal Court, published Sunday in The Jordan Times.
According to the statement, Abdullah said that 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.”
The Jordanian king also emphasized his country’s cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, in working to assert “Jordan’s role as custodian of the holy sites of Jerusalem and Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.”
Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini reiterated the importance of an agreement to this effect signed by Abdullah and Abbas in March, noting 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 had boosted Jordanian-PA coordination at local and international levels.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal expressed appreciation for Abdullah’s efforts, stating that “despite challenges facing Jerusalem, the people of the holy city prove every day their persistence to cling to the city’s heritage and preserve its identity from Judaization.”
Sheikh Abdul Atheem Salhab, head of the Islamic Awqaf Council in Jerusalem, called Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque a “red line” for the Jordanian monarch.
He added that “attacks” against Al Aqsa had increased recently, “especially by settlers storming Al Aqsa under the protection of the Israeli forces” – a reference to ascents by Jewish pilgrims to the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism.
He also cited “attempts by right-wing ministers in the Israeli government to legitimize Jewish prayers inside Al Aqsa,” and warned of an unspecified “era-bound and location-based” division plan of the mosque, to “eventually rebuild what they allege to be the Solomon’s Temple,” according to the Jordanian royal statement.