Jordan urges world action to protect Jerusalem Palestinians

Kingdom fears new spillover of violence from occupied territory

File photo of Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi. AFP
File photo of Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi. AFP

Jordan called on Sunday for swift international action to stop what it regards as Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem.

It is the latest diplomatic move by Amman to curb tension that could affect the kingdom’s stability.

The Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Al Safadi, told his German peer Heiko Maas that “effective international moves to protect Jerusalem and its holy places" were crucial.

Jerusalem is witnessing its worst violence in years over renewed Israeli encroachment in the city, where Jordan has custodianship of main Muslim holy places.

A large proportion of Jordan’s population are of Palestinian origin and authorities do not want a spillover of violence to result in another influx of Palestinian refugees.

“Israel bears responsibility for the dangerous escalation that the holy city is witnessing,” Mr Al Safadi told Mr Maas in a phone call.

More than 200 Palestinians were wounded on Saturday when Israeli security troops fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at crowds at Al Aqsa Mosque compound, one of Islam’s holiest places.

They were angry at possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in in Sheikh Jarrah district in the east of the city.

Protests increased in Sheikh Jarrah in recent weeks as dozens of residents have been served eviction orders for Israeli settlers to soon move into their homes.

If the evictions go ahead, “the region would be headed to more escalation and more tension”, Mr Al Safadi said.

Jordanian authorities have been more wary in the past few years about any spillover of violence that could lead to another mass migration of Palestinians into Jordan, after the 1948 and 1967 refugee waves.

Officials have made it clear that if Israel is allowed to raise pressure, another mass migration would turn Jordan into an “alternative homeland” for the Palestinians.

It would also allow Israeli to escape its responsibility as an occupying power under international law, they say.

Jordan’s relationship with Israel is complex. In 1994 it was the second Arab country, after Egypt, to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

Jordan has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian claims to their own state in the West Bank and the whole of East Jerusalem.

The authorities allowed hundreds of people to demonstrate near the Israeli embassy in Amman on Sunday.

They wanted Jordan’s ambassador in Israel to be recalled and for the peace treaty to be cancelled.

In a call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, Jordan’s King Abdullah said the kingdom would continue to co-ordinate with its “Arab brethren” and with influential powers to “put a limit to Israeli transgressions".

King Abdullah told Mr Abbas that Jordan rejected “attempts by Israeli authorities to change the demographic situation in East Jerusalem and all measures aimed at changing the city’s historic and legal status”, the royal court said.

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Updated: May 9, 2021 11:39 PM

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