Jordan's King Abdullah says Jerusalem's Christians are under fire in UNGA speech

The monarch also repeated his country's support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

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Christianity in Jerusalem is under fire, Jordan's King Abdullah II told world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, and he called for the status quo of the holy city to be protected.

“As custodians of Jerusalem's Muslim and Christian holy sites, we are committed to protecting the historical and legal status quo and to their safety and future,” the king said, at the 77th annual UN General Assembly in New York.

“And as a Muslim leader, let me say clearly, that we are committed to defending the rights, precious heritage and historic identity of the Christian people of our region.”

But he said the city's Christian community was “under fire”.

“The rights of churches in Jerusalem are threatened. This cannot continue. Christianity is vital to the past and present of our region and the Holy Land. It must remain an integral part of our future.”

Christian community leaders in the city have long condemned what they say are efforts by hardline Jewish settler groups to displace them.

Friar Koryoun Baghdasaryan, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told The National in April that physical attacks against members of the clergy had risen dramatically in recent years, and that they were regularly spat at in the street by some hardline Jewish residents.

Israeli police stand by as Jews visit the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, as Israel marks Tisha B'Av, in August.  Reuters

“Today, the future of Jerusalem is an urgent concern. The city is holy to billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews around the world,” King Abdullah said.

“Undermining Jerusalem's legal and historical status quo triggers global tensions and deepens religious divides. The holy city must not be a place for hatred and division.”

King Abdullah also repeated his country's stance on a two-state solution for the Palestinian issue.

“A founding UN principle is the right to self-determination for all peoples. The Palestinian people with their resilient national identity cannot be denied this right,” he said.

“The road forward is a two-state solution in accordance with UN resolutions, a sovereign viable and independent Palestinian state on the fourth of June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security and prosperity.”

Jordan’s king also told the General Assembly that global partnerships are needed to combat climate change and protect vital water resources just weeks before world leaders meet again in Egypt for the first UN Conference of the Parties on climate change (Cop27) summit in the Middle East.

“No country can heal our injured earth alone,” King Abdullah said. “We have been building strong partnerships to manage and sustain vital water resources. And we see more opportunities to work with partners.”

He said the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine, had disrupted global supply chains and increased hunger.

Many well-off countries experiencing empty food shelves for the first time “are discovering a truth that people in developing countries have known for a long time ― for countries to thrive, affordable food must get to every family’s table,” he said.

“On a global level, this demands collective measures to ensure fair access to affordable food, and speed the movement of staples to countries in need.”

Updated: September 20, 2022, 5:11 PM
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