Amid Palestinian Authority- Jordanian cooperation and reports that PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah have considered establishing a
Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, the two leaders signed an agreement Sunday
to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites.
The agreement, signed in Amman,
reaffirms Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the holy sites in
Abbas told reporters that the agreement had nothing to do
either with efforts to restart Palestinian-Israeli negotiations or US President
Barack Obama’s recent visit to the region.
Obama went to Jordan after
visiting Israel, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who accompanied Obama on
his trip, returned to Israel after meetings there for four hours of meetings
with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and top Israeli officials.
and Jordan said that the agreement was aimed at foiling Israeli attempts to
“Judaize” Jerusalem and its holy sites, particularly Al-Aksa Mosque. The
agreement states that King Abdullah enjoys the “full right to exert all legal
efforts to safeguard and preserve Jerusalem’s holy sites.”
“reaffirms the historic principles upon which Jordan and Palestine are in
agreement as regards Jerusalem and their common goal of defending Jerusalem
together, especially at such a critical time, when the city is facing dramatic
challenges and daily illegal changes to its authenticity and original
As the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, the agreement
says, King Abdullah will affirm that all Muslims may travel to and from the
Islamic holy sites and worship there. He will also oversee and manage the
institution of the Wakf in Jerusalem and its properties in accordance with the
laws of Jordan.
PA Minister of Wakf and Religious Affairs Mahmoud Habbash
said that the agreement stresses the historical role played by Jordan in
protecting the holy sites in Jerusalem and Palestinian sovereignty over the
A statement issued by the Jordanian Royal Palace described the
agreement as “historic,” adding that Abbas has committed to a special Jordanian
role in overseeing holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abbas said that the agreement
was an “extension of what already existed during the era of the late King
The Prime Minister’s Office would not comment on the
Netanyahu and Abdullah are believed to be in regular contact,
and in a recent article on Abdullah in The Atlantic magazine, reporter Jeffrey
Goldberg wrote that while captious when speaking of Netanyahu, Abdullah would
only say that his relationship with the prime minister is “very strong. Our
discussions have really improved.”
According to the 1994 Israel-Jordan
peace treaty, “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom
of Jordan in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem.
When negotiations on the
permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the
Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”
Herb Keinon contributed to