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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King meets with Jerusalemite figures
Amman, 28 July 2013

His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday said the Kingdom will continue 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 historical role in securing holy sites.

His Majesty said Jordan’s role is all the more important in light of the agreement signed by the King 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.

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 His Majesty.

The King noted that Israel’s continued settlement activities undermine chances of regional peace, which should be achieved on the basis of the two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative, leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state on Palestinian national soil with East Jerusalem as its capital, within 1967 lines.

His Majesty warned against the forced migration of Muslim and Christian Jerusalemites and the dangerous consequences this may have on the peace process.

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 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 Al 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, His Majesty commended the steadfastness of Jerusalemites and their commitment to safeguarding the Arab identity of Jerusalem 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 came in appreciation of their efforts and hard work.

He noted that his ministry is committed to implementing His Majesty’s vision and directives to preserve Jerusalem and its holy sites and support its people’s steadfastness in the face of all Israeli violations and attempts to Judaise the old city and change its identity.

Jerusalem’s religious leaders attending the meeting thanked the King 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 Israeli forces. He cited Israel’s violations against the jurisdiction of the awqaf and the mosque’s administration, systematic steps to obstruct restoration works, and attempts by Israeli right-wing ministers to legitimise Jewish prayers inside Al Aqsa. He warned of Israeli plans to divide the mosque, to eventually rebuild the alleged Solomon’s Temple.

Director General of Jerusalem’s Awqaf Department Sheikh Mohammad Azzam Khatib thanked the King on behalf of all Jerusalemites for his constant defence of holy sites and Jerusalemites, emphasising that the King has made his custodianship a “true Hashemite heritage.”

Khatib cited a number of recently completed Hashemite reconstruction works, 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 portfolio to fund projects to protect 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” King Abdullah’s status as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Husseini said the accord has provided moral support to the people of Jerusalem, helped solve many outstanding problems, and boosted Jordanian-Palestinian coordination at local and international levels.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal expressed appreciation for His Majesty’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 a collective responsibility.

“We came from Jerusalem –– Muslims and Christians –– to meet at the home of the Hashemites and thank His Majesty for always standing by us, like his father and grandfathers did, to preserve and support Jerusalem,” Twal said.

He indicated that despite all the challenges, the people of Jerusalem prove everyday their persistence in clinging to the city’s heritage and preserve its identity from Judaisation.

“We are proud to see thousands of Muslims coming from all over Palestine to Jerusalem every Friday. This affirms that we are still standing on this holy land,” Twal added.

The delegation included members of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council as well as imams and employees of the waqf, in addition to political and religious figures and academics, as well as representatives from Jordanian commissions working in the holy city and Christian leaders.