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Jordan’s King Abdullah, custodian of holy websites, meets US Christian leaders

(RNS) — It’s uncommon for a world Muslim chief visiting the US to request to satisfy with native Christian leaders. However King Abdullah II of Jordan has his obligations: The Hashemite king, whose lineage goes again to the Prophet Muhammad, can be the custodian of Muslim holy locations in Jerusalem, through a non secular belief referred to as the Waqf Council.

On Monday (Could 9) in New York, the king met with a gaggle representing American Catholics and several other mainline and African American Protestant denominations, in addition to Armenian and Greek Orthodox Christians, to debate a bunch of points — from taxation to the renovation of Christ’s tomb and the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. He additionally met with associates of some evangelical Christian teams which have been in search of full recognition in Jordan.

However the assembly with Christian leaders was primarily aimed toward paving the best way for essential discussions in Washington later this week about mounting tensions at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which is the third holiest web site in Islam and consists of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The 35-acre mosque compound, identified to Jews because the Temple Mount, constitutes a few of the most contested actual property on this planet. Its possession and visitation rights are ruled by a centuries-old dictate referred to as the Standing Quo Settlement. 


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In recent times radical Jewish nationalists have been demanding a proper for Jews to wish in teams on the grounds of the mosque, in violation of each the Standing Quo Settlement and a 2014 promise by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respect its parameters.

Israeli officers say they’re dedicated to the settlement, however since October 2000, after they eliminated the Waqf’s guard from the mosque compound’s Moghrabi Gate, the Israeli authorities have allowed whomever they select to enter. Teams of Jews have change into more and more daring about not solely praying however holding ceremonies on the plaza outdoors the mosque.

Spiritual Jews arrive to wish on the Temple Mount, identified to Muslims because the Noble Sanctuary, within the Outdated Metropolis of Jerusalem, Aug. 2, 2021. (AP Picture/Maya Alleruzzo)

Reconfirming the established order in Jerusalem would require some laborious diplomacy and numerous goodwill. The latter gave the impression to be the purpose of the king’s assembly in New York with church leaders.

Kyle Cristofalo, senior director of advocacy and authorities relations for Churches for Middle East Peace, which helped put collectively the gathering, mentioned that the Christian representatives had been deeply grieved by the continuing assaults towards the established order and affirmed the commitments of their respective communities to work for concord and justice for all who dwell within the Holy Land. 

“The each day violations of human rights and spiritual freedom towards Christians and Muslims within the Holy Land should cease,” Cristafalo mentioned. “So too should the occupation. We look ahead to persevering with to work with His Majesty within the service of a future through which all Palestinians and Israelis are capable of flourish.”

In a press release, the Rev. A. Roy Medley, common secretary emeritus of American Baptist Church buildings USA, mentioned he had “expressed on behalf of Baptists our dismay when faith is weaponized to demean, divide, and destroy.” 


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However the tough diplomacy stays. Israel has lastly acquiesced to Jordan’s repeated requests to speak about using the Al-Aqsa plaza. When King Abdullah visits Washington on Friday, and through President Joe Biden’s upcoming go to to Israel, the powers concerned might want to work out a components that can protect the rights of Muslims and Christians at their holy websites whereas preserving them open for well-intentioned guests.

(Daoud Kuttab is a Christian Palestinian from Jerusalem. He’s a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton College. Comply with him on [email protected] The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially replicate these of Faith Information Service.)

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