Jordanian king says pressured to alter custodianship of Jerusalem holy sites
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Jordanian king says pressured to alter custodianship of Jerusalem holy sites

King Abdullah vows to not change his country’s historic role as guardian, doesn’t reveal details of who is squeezing him

Palestinian Muslim worshipers walk past the Dome of the Rock mosque, situated in the al-Aqsa compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, March 1, 2019, before Friday noon prayers. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Palestinian Muslim worshipers walk past the Dome of the Rock mosque, situated in the al-Aqsa compound on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, March 1, 2019, before Friday noon prayers. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

ZARQA, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II has vowed to keep protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, calling it a “red line” for his country.

Abdullah said Wednesday, during a visit to the Zarqa Governorate outside Amman, that he’s under pressure to alter his country’s historic role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, but that he won’t change his position.

“I will never change my position toward Jerusalem in my life,” Abdullah said. “All my people are with me.”

He did not specify what kind of pressure he was encountering.

The Waqf, a Jordanian-appointed council oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. It claims exclusive authority over the Temple Mount compound and says it is not subject to Israeli jurisdiction. Tensions often escalate at the site.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II looks on as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (not pictured) speaks ahead of their meeting at the US Capitol in Washington on March 13, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Middle East pundits have in the past suggested that Saudi Arabia is interested in taking over responsibility for the Temple Mount and the mosques within its compound. Saudi Arabia is already the custodian of the two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, both within its territory.

In January 2018, the-then opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Saudi Arabia could play a key role in Jerusalem, taking responsibility for administering Muslim holy sites in any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Herzog told Elaph, a London-based independent Arabic news site that “Saudi Arabia could play a big role in the issue [of Jerusalem].”

After Israel’s general election in April, the Trump administration is poised to reveal its “deal of the century” peace plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is believed to include a broader development of regional cooperation between Israel and moderate Sunni states, of which Saudi Arabia is the leading powerhouse.

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