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Not to harm a precious role

Feb 27,2014 - Last updated at Feb 27,2014

Israel’s continued encroachments on the holy sites in East Jerusalem and the attempt by some misguided Knesset members to call for a debate aiming to strip Jordan of its status of custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in the city have, understandably, stirred the anger of Jordanians of all stripes.

It will be recalled that the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty specifically accords the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan the uncontested status of custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem.

No Israeli, Knesset member or not, has the right or the power to repudiate the carefully drafted peace treaty between Jordan and Israel unless he or she succeeds in revoking the treaty first.

As Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said in the wake of the increased tension sparked by the Knesset debate on the issue, “not one and not even 1,000 Knesset members can cancel the Hashemite custodianship status over the holy sites!”

A few days ago, Israeli soldiers stormed Al Aqsa Mosque compound to disperse Palestinian worshippers protesting continued Israeli excavations at Islam’s third holiest site.

The Knesset’s consideration of an agenda item put before it by some hardliners seeking to take away the Hashemite role in East Jerusalem particularly angered our own deputies who voted to expel the Israeli ambassador to the Kingdom.

To be sure, it is not only the MPs who are frustrated by the repeated Israeli aggression against the holy sites in East Jerusalem. All Jordanians, Muslims and Christians alike, are angered by this Israeli behaviour.

Still, the decision of the Lower House to demand the revocation of the 1994 peace treaty with Israel and the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, coupled with the recall of the Jordanian ambassador to Israel, while defensible in principle may be counterproductive.

Diplomatic channels with Israel must remain open in order to convey Jordan’s disapproval and dismay at the constant Israeli provocations in East Jerusalem.

Jordan’s position as a defender of East Jerusalem and its holy places stands to be compromised by severing relations with Israel.

There is need to exhibit carefully measured reactions to Israel’s intransigence and not resort to hasty measures that may harm the efforts to protect East Jerusalem from Israeli designs.

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