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Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem holy sites ‘a historical responsibility we are proud to carry’

Leaders renew rejection of US move to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel

By Mohammad Ghazal - Apr 15,2018 - Last updated at Apr 15,2018

His Majesty King Abdullah delivers a speech inaugurating the Arab summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

DHAHRAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday said it was necessary to reaffirm the eternal rights of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Christians to Jerusalem as a key to peace in the region, urging continued support for the Palestinians to realise their legitimate right to independent statehood.

His Majesty said that Jerusalem is the cornerstone for a comprehensive solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the June 14, 1967 line with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative.

"Our Palestinian brothers seek peace, and their commitment to the two-state solution and rejecting violence is an unequivocal testament to their unwavering commitment to peace," His Majesty said at the opening of the 29th Arab Summit, which was attended by the heads of 16 Arab states and high-ranking officials from the remaining Arab states (See official translation of full speech).

"It is our collective duty to stand with them and to support their steadfastness in their struggle to gain their legitimate rights to independent statehood, and to living in peace and security," said the King during the summit, which was attended by representatives of the EU and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

King Abdullah stressed on the need to enable the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to continue providing humanitarian and social services to refugees until a just solution is reached.

The King warned that any obstruction of the vital services of UNRWA would negatively impact over 5 million Palestinian refugees in the region.

Stressing that the Hashemite custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is “a historical duty and responsibility that we are proud to carry”, King Abdullah said: “We will persevere in upholding this responsibility, in coordination with our brothers at the Palestinian National Authority and with your support.”

His Majesty said Jordan would continue strengthening the resolve of Jerusalemites and counter any attempts to change the identity of the holy city, impose new facts on the ground or change the historical and legal status quo.

In his address, King Abdullah congratulated Iraq for its victory over the Daesh terrorist group and reaffirmed support for the neighbouring country in defeating the khawarej, or outlaws of Islam. 

On Syria, King Abdullah said Jordan supports all initiatives to push the political process forward and ensure de-escalation on the ground as part of the ongoing pursuit of an inclusive political solution that involves all components of the Syrian people, maintains the territorial integrity of Syria and guarantees the safety of its citizens and the return of refugees.

King Abdullah stressed his commitment to good neighbourly relations, adding that the shared regional interests require countering any attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab states, instigate strife and sectarian conflict or threaten regional security in any shape or form.

His Majesty said that Arab states must escalate diplomatic efforts with all regional and international organisations to take on the mounting challenges facing the Arab world.

“We stress the importance of devising a comprehensive action plan to bolster cooperation and coordination with these organisations,” said the King.

Addressing the summit, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced that Saudi Arabia will donate $150 million to support the Islamic Awqaf in Jerusalem.

The Saudi king said the 29th summit would be dubbed “Jerusalem Summit”.

He also announced that Saudi Arabia would donate $50 million to UNRWA.

The monarch said that the Palestinian issue will remain the top issue for the Arabs until the legitimate rights of the Palestinians are realised.

Renewing rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, the Saudi King stressed that East Jerusalem is an inseparable part of Palestine.

The Saudi King emphasised commitment to the unity and sovereignty of Yemen and its independence, holding the Iran-backed Houthi militia accountable for the eruption and the continuation of the crisis in Yemen.

King Salman said the threat of terrorism is the most serious challenge facing the world.

In this regard, he renewed strong condemnation of Iran’s “terrorist acts” in the Arab world and meddling in its internal affairs.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Arab League secretary general, said the Palestinian issue, which remains the Arabs’ central issue, witnessed a major setback following the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

However, he said the Arabs were able to lobby for an international stance that rejects the US move.

“But more political and financial support is needed to empower the Palestinians and support their steadfastness to face all schemes that seek to liquidate their issue and undermine their legitimate rights in freedom and statehood,” Aboul Gheit said in his address at the summit.

During the summit, Jordan submitted a report highlighting its achievements during the presidency of the 28th Arab summit.

The document highlighted Jordan’s efforts and activities to address various challenges and issues in the region including the Palestinian cause.

It also underlined Jordan’s efforts to encounter all unilateral Israeli measures seeking to alter the situation on the ground and undermine the two-state solution, including the illegal settlement activities and the confiscation of lands, according to the report.

The report also pointed out His Majesty King Abdullah’s intensive contacts at all levels to stress that the Arab Peace Initiative is vital to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

 The report also highlighted Jordan’s efforts to address several other issues, including the Syrian crisis, where Jordan succeeded in reaching a deal with the US and Russia to create a de-escalation zone in the south of Syria, paving the way for a political solution, and making aid delivery to Syria an easier job.

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