BEIRUT

Middle East

Jordan king, Abbas ink deal to 'defend' Jerusalem

Jordan's King Abdullah (L) welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Royal Palace in Amman March 31, 2013. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN: Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas signed on Sunday an agreement confirming their "common goal to defending" Jerusalem and its sacred sites against attempts to Judaise the Holy City.

A statement by the palace said the deal confirms Jordan's historic role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and outlines coordination between the two sides.

"In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque," the statement said.

"It is also emphasising the historical principles agreed by Jordan and Palestine to exert joint efforts to protect the city and holy sites from Israeli judaisation attempts."

"It also reaffirms the historic principles upon which Jordan and Palestine are in agreement as regards Jerusalem and their common goal of defending Jerusalem together, especially at such critical time, when the city is facing dramatic challenges and daily illegal changes to its authenticity and original identity."

Al-Aqsa compound, known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, is Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, and houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques.

But it is also Judaism's most sacred place of worship, venerated by Jews as Temple Mount, the site where King Herod's temple stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

It is one of the most sensitive sites in Jerusalem, and clashes frequently break out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

"Jerusalem is currently facing major challenges and attempts to change its Arab, Muslim and Christian identity," the palace said.

Israel captured the eastern half of the city during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised internationally, but the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as capital of their future state.

Jordan, which has a 1994 peace treaty with Israeli, administers the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem through its ministry of Awqaf and religious affairs

 

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