Host king, Biden affirms Jordan’s role in overseeing Muslim sites in Jerusalem

The White House on Friday affirmed the Biden administration’s recognition of Jordan’s role in overseeing Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem after a meeting between US President Joe Biden and King Abdullah II in Washington.

Biden met with the Jordanian monarch at the White House after repeated clashes between police and worshipers at the Old City holy site during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The incidents have led to an escalation of diplomatic tensions between Israel and Jordan.

The White House said in a statement after the meeting that Biden reiterated “his strong support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cited the need to preserve the historic status quo on Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.” . using the holy place names used by Muslims and Jews.

“The president also recognized the crucial role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem,” the White House added.

Jordan ruled the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 1948 until the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel captured the area and later claimed sovereignty over the Old City and an enlarged Jerusalem.

Jordan has long maintained that its treaties with Israel give it custody of Jerusalem’s Christian and Muslim holy sites; While Israel has never agreed to this claim, it grants day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount to the Jordanian-funded Waqf.

Known as the Haram al-Sharif or the Al-Aqsa complex to Muslims, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.

It has long been a tinderbox for violence and conflict, with tensions rising again in recent weeks, including Palestinian riots, clashes with Israel police and Jewish attempts to pray on the Mount.

Any change to the longstanding status quo on the Mount, under which non-Muslims can visit but not pray, can lead to violence.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) welcomes King Abdullah II (right) of Jordan to the Pentagon May 12, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images via AFP)

Recent tensions at the holy site have come amid terror attacks against Israelis, pressure from Israel’s allies, threats from Hamas and the exacerbation of the ongoing coalition crisis.

Abdullah condemned Israel for the clashes, criticized the state for allowing Jewish pilgrims to enter the site and called on the Israeli government to respect “the historical and legal status quo” there, according to a recent statement from the Royal Hashemite Court.

Muslims participate in Eid al-Fitr prayers next to the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Monday, May 2. 2022. Eid al-Fitr, a fast-breaking festival marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Tuesday that Israel has no right to claim the holy sites in Jerusalem, which he said were “occupied Palestinian land.”

In an interview with Jordanian Al-Mamlaka television, the top diplomat proclaimed that “Israel has no sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa mosque, it is a Muslim place of worship. Only the Jordanian Waqf has full authority over the management of the complex.”

On Friday, Safadi lashed out at Israel after police in Jerusalem beat mourners at the funeral of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a shootout between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank on Wednesday.

“The terrible and inhumane Israeli aggression against mourners at the funeral calls for a conscientious global response,” he said.

The White House called the incident “deeply disturbing” and Biden said it “needs to be investigated.”

Police said they intervened in the funeral procession because rioters took Abu Akleh’s coffin against his family’s wishes and threw objects at officers.

Safadi also blamed Israel for Abu Akleh’s death on Friday. Israel has said it cannot determine who shot him without examining the fatal bullet, while the Palestinians have blamed Israel and rejected offers of a joint investigation.

Safadi said: “All data and witnesses indicate that the occupation soldiers shot her dead. This crime requires international action.”

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