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Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy sites a noble duty

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Dec 02,2020 - Last updated at Dec 03,2020

AMMAN — For over nine decades, since Hussein Bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, was chosen by Arab and Palestinian officials, the Hashemites have preserved the Custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

“The Hashemite Custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites has been a sacred duty ever since the beginning of the last century at the time of Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, and its importance increased further after the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, as the protection of the holy sites became more urgent to prevent violations and the Judaisation of Jerusalem,” former minister Samih Maaytah said on Wednesday.

The custodianship has been affirmed further through the Peace Treaty, which prevented a vacuum in the management of the sanctuaries. It also prevented the occupation from abusing the holy sites to change the status quo, thereby safeguarding them for Arabs and Muslims and keeping their identity intact, Maaytah told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Preserving the shrines, their ownership and their identity is “an Arab necessity and a Hashemite duty”, Maaytah said.

He noted that Jordan always ensures to strengthen the Arab and Islamic stance regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in all international fora. 

“After the fall of the Ottoman empire, Sharif Hussein Bin Ali became the custodian of the Islamic and Christian sanctuaries, chosen by the entire Islamic world at the time,” former awqaf minister Wael Arabiyat told The Jordan Times over the phone.

“Sharif Hussein chose in his will to be buried in Jerusalem after he was exiled to Cyprus, and refused divisions and all decisions that impact Palestine. Then, the late King Abdullah followed the same approach, and fell a martyr in Jerusalem after spending his entire life calling for Arab and Islamic unity for the Palestinian cause,” Arabiyat noted.

The custodianship continued during the reign of the late King Talal and King Hussein. 

King Hussein was able to affirm the historical right of Palestine over the sanctuaries even under occupation, through the Peace Treaty, ensuring that the custodianship remains intact and continuous until the liberation of Palestine, the former minister said. 

His Majesty King Abdullah followed on the Hashemite legacy, and was able to reconstruct the Saladin platform in Al Aqsa Mosque, in spite of all the difficulties and hurdles, he said.

“King Abdullah has always been defending the two-state solution, rejecting the Deal of the Century, reiterating that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, and rejecting all attempts to change the status quo,” Arabiyat concluded. 

On November 29, on the annual occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, His Majesty King Abdullah has sent a letter to Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People Cheikh Niang.

In the letter, King Abdullah reaffirmed the centrality of the Palestinian cause, and the importance of continuing to strive towards achieving a just and comprehensive peace, accepted by all peoples and in accordance with the international law and UN resolutions, according to a Royal Court statement.

His Majesty said it is everyone’s duty to support all efforts to break the stalemate in the peace process, and relaunch direct and serious negotiations to achieve peace, based on the two-state solution, and in line with international law, relevant UN resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative; and to end unilateral Israeli measures that undermine peace prospects and fuel conflict, such as settlement activity, annexation attempts, and any steps to impose as new status quo in Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.


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