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King Abdullah acts drastically in defence of Jerusalem

Mar 27,2019 - Last updated at Mar 27,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah’s decision on Monday to cancel a scheduled working visit to Romania in response to its decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem comes as no surprise: King Abdullah is known for promptness and drastic action on such vital matters. In addition to the concerned country, the cancellation sends a very strong message to any other country that may contemplate similar moves. As the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy places in the occupied Arab city, the Jordanian King spared no effort in affirming his rejection of any attempts, from whichever source, to compromise the legal nature of the Jerusalem status.

Only days earlier, King Abdullah was declaring before a huge crowd in Zarqa that Jerusalem is a red line he would never allow anyone to cross, no matter what the cost of such a principled position for Jordan may be, no matter how massive the pressures to compromise are.

A year-and-a-half ago, US President Donald Trump made an illegal, unilateral and a potentially dangerous decision declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. King Abdullah rejected that decision, advised against it, warned of its far-reaching consequences on the stability and the peace of the region and called on all nations to oppose the decision as well. That happened, and when the matter was brought to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly on December 21, 2017, a total of 128 countries voted against Trump’s unilateral illegal Jerusalem move.

Unfortunately, and obviously opportunistically, a small number of countries followed the American example, declaring their intention to relocate their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem, disregarding the fact that such moves violate international law, aggravate the Middle East situation, encourage Israeli aggression and put serious obstacles in the way of any possible meaningful negotiations for ending the century-old Arab-Israeli conflict.

King Abdullah’s cancellation of his working visit to Romania sets a timely and a prominent example, and sends an equally strong message to Arab and Muslim leaders, who should turn their words of opposition to Trump’s Jerusalem decision into action, as King Abdullah has just done. Arab and Muslim leaders who crow loudly about their concern over the Jerusalem status should without delay follow King Abdullah’s example by taking actual measures against countries that do not stand by the rightful principles and the provisions of international law. Concerned leaders’ silence, or weak reaction to transgressions on Arab rights and integrity, only encourages more violations and offenses.

As a historic city that hosts some of the holiest Muslim and Christian sites, Jerusalem is, and has always been, a major issue of particular concern for the Muslim and Christian Arabs, as well as for all other Muslim states.

King Abdullah, as custodian of the city’s holy places, should not be left alone to shoulder the huge task of defending the status of the city: this should be a collective Arab and Muslim responsibility. It is time that such an urgent undertaking is not unduly delayed.

It is not just Jerusalem, nor is it just because of the Hashemite Custodianship, that Jordan has been fully committed to the Palestinian cause since the very early days of the conflict.

It was the Jordanian army alone, despite its scarce capabilities and its modest overall size, that fought fiercely, professionally and bravely in the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, and managed to save the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Zionist onslaught. All Jordanian Kings have been placing the Palestinian cause at the top of their priorities. In fact, this is the position of all Jordanians.

For the last 20 years, King Abdullah’s efforts of have been unrelenting in trying to bring the historic conflict to an end but on the basis of justice for the Palestinians, recognition of their inalienable rights, provisions of the rules of international law and peace and prosperity for all the countries and the people in the region. 

Under the wise leadership of King Abdullah, and in fact his great predecessors, the Jordanian position has always been recognised as moderate, peaceful, considerate of other countries’ rights, friendly and law abiding; but never willing to compromise on principles or lawful rights.

It is specifically thanks to his Majesty’s diplomacy that Jordan managed to pass a series of critical crises and get through difficult times without yielding to pressures or compromising on rights, Palestinian rights in particular.

The Jordanian-Egyptian-Iraqi summit in Cairo earlier this week must be seen within the context of a King-led, Jordanian initiative to reactivate long-dormant joint Arab effort to consider the critically deteriorating situation in the Arab region. It was a successful and a promising start. Let us hope the momentum will surge ahead confidently and boldly.

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