A delegation of church leaders from Jerusalem who met with Jordanian King Abdullah II reiterated their opposition to US recognition of the city as the capital of Israel and censured “attempts to Judaize” it, Jordanian state media said Sunday.
Abdullah convened with Christian clerics and dignitaries from Jordan and Jerusalem ahead of the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
Abdullah, as Jordanian head of state, is considered custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
During the event at the Baptism Site on the Jordan River, the delegates from Jerusalem “condemned any attempts to Judaize Jerusalem or obliterate its Arab identity,” the state-run Petra news agency reported.
Among those who attended were Archbishop Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and Greek Orthodox patriarch in the Holy Land, Kyrios Kyrios Theophilos III. Members of the Islamic Waqf, a Jordan-based organization in charge of the Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem were also at the event.
The delegates “reiterated their rejection of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” and “emphasized that the decision is illegal, undermines peace, and runs contrary to Christian teachings.”
They also thanked Abdullah for a speech he gave at a gathering of Islamic state leaders last week in Istanbul, during a summit about the US move regarding Jerusalem.
Abdullah told the gathering, “We will continue our historical duty, which dates back to our great grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, to protect and care for holy sites in Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector, which the international community regards as annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.
In an address on December 6 from the White House, US President Donald Trump said that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
Trump, whose declaration was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.