VATICAN CITY, Holy See — Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Pope Francis on Tuesday discussed the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the former’s role as custodian of the city’s holy sites.
“My dear friend and brother,” said Abdullah as he greeted the pontiff at the Vatican, presenting him a painting of Jerusalem’s Old City, featuring the Islamic Dome of the Rock and the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Vatican said the pair had “cordial conversations focused above all on the theme of the promotion of peace and stability in the Mideast, with particular reference to the question of Jerusalem.”
They discussed “the role of the Hashemite Sovereign as Custodian of the Holy Places” and pledged “to encourage negotiations among the interested parties, as well as promoting inter-religious dialogue,” it said in a statement.
Francis called for “respect of the status quo” in Jerusalem earlier this month following US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning against “a new spiral of violence.”
Abdullah has denounced the Jerusalem announcement as “a violation of international rights.”
Jerusalem, which contains sites considered sacred by Christians, Jews and Muslims, is of huge importance to both Israel and the Palestinians.
In a December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted 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.
The move was hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump 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.
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. The Palestinians claim Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.