Jordan’s king warns of ‘red lines’ in Jerusalem after Netanyahu returns to office

Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in today’s Middle East Meanwhile, CNN’s thrice-weekly bulletin that looks at the region’s biggest stories. Register here.

Amman, Jordan

Jordan’s king says he is ready for conflict if that happens status of the holy places of Jerusalem change as Israel prepares to swear in what is likely to be the most right-wing government in its history.

King Abdullah II told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an exclusive interview this month that there is “concern” in his country about those in Israel trying to push for changes in its custody of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalemwarning that there are “red lines”.

“If people want to come into conflict with us, we are fully prepared,” he said. “I always like to believe that let’s look at the glass as half full, but we have certain red lines. … And if people want to push those red lines, then we’ll deal with it.”

The new government of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be the most right-wing in Israel’s history and includes controversial figures who were once considered extremely peripheral to Israeli politics. This has raised concerns about the potential for an escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence and about the future of Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors and Western allies.

This year has already been the deadliest for Palestinians and Israelis in nearly two decades, raising the specter of a new Palestinian uprising against Israel.

“We have to worry about next intifada (rebellion), said the king. “And if that happens, it’s a total breakdown of law and order that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will benefit from.” I think there is great concern from all of us in the region, including those in Israel who are on our side on this issue, to make sure that this does not happen.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war, but signed a peace treaty with it in 1994 according to which he officially recognized Haman’s special role in the holy places of the city. But the two have had an uneasy relationship since then, with Jordan regularly accusing Israel of violating the agreement that gives it control over the sites and bans non-Muslims from praying there.

The Hashemite Monarchy of Jordan was guardian of the holy places of Jerusalem since 1924 and is seen as the guarantor of the religious rights of Muslims and Christians in the city.

Tensions are highest around the compound known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, which is called the Temple Mount by Jews. The site includes the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. The area is also the holiest site in Judaism. Politicians on the Israeli right often argue that Jews should also have the right to pray there.

One of the most controversial figures in Israel’s incoming government is Itamar Ben Gvir, who is set to become national security minister and take control of the police, including law enforcement in Jerusalem’s holy sites. Ben Gvir has a long history of incitement to violence against Palestinians and Arabs. He has been convicted of inciting anti-Arab racism and supporting terrorism and has openly called for a change to the status quo at the holy sites.

“I don’t think these people are just under the Jordan microscope. They are under an international microscope,” the king said, responding to a question about Ben Gvir’s views. “I have to believe that there are many people in Israel as well who are as concerned as we are.”

He declined to say how Jordan would respond to changes to the status of the holy sites. “At the end of the day, the Israeli people have the right to choose who they want to lead them… We will work with anyone and everyone as long as we can bring people together,” he said.

Of Jordan’s population of about 10 million, more than half are from Palestinian originincluding more than two million Palestinian refugees.

Jordan was the second Arab nation to normalize relations with Israel after Egypt. But after decades of waiting, Israel scored a major diplomatic victory in 2020 getting recognition from four more Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

The nation’s relationship with Israel is highly scrutinized at home, with many opposed to further strengthening ties because of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Israel’s integration in the region is “extremely important” but “will not happen unless there is a future for the Palestinians,” the king said, pointing to the overwhelming support shown by Arab football fans for the Palestinians at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Recently, the king has redoubled his efforts to shed light on the status of Christians in the Middle East. In September, he announced on The UN General Assembly in New York that Christianity in Jerusalem is “under fire”, a message from the patriarchs and Heads of the churches in Jerusalem approved.

Some churches in the Holy Land were too alarming about the situation of Christians there. In a Christmas message this week, the heads of churches in Jerusalem, a group of Palestinian churches, issued a statement condemning the “attack” on their practice of religion and the “unjustified restrictions” on worship. In July, the High Presidential Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine issued a statement assault conviction by “Israeli extremist settlers” on the Church of the Holy Spirit and the Greek Garden, accusing the Israeli government of complicity through “inaction” in holding the perpetrators accountable.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat told CNN that church leaders “have full access to any government body for concerns they have,” adding that acts of violence “of any community are condemned by the government and investigated with the utmost seriousness from the Israeli police. ”

“The State of Israel remains committed to protecting freedom of religion and worship for all, including the Christian community, in Jerusalem and other holy sites,” he said.

King Abdullah told CNN that churches in Jerusalem are facing challenges from the “politics on the ground,” which is putting the Christian community under pressure.

“It’s not a national policy, but there are people joining governments that have very extremist views on Muslims and Christians, as there are obviously on the other side, and we need to unite against that,” he said.

Christians in the Middle East are “part of our past, they are part of our present and they must be part of our future,” he added.

Jordan has become a safe haven for Middle Eastern Christians for most of the past two decades as neighboring countries have been embroiled in conflicts that have forced some of the world’s oldest Christian communities to flee their homelands.

In December the monarch launched a master plan develop, develop Bethany beyond the Jordan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where Christians believe Jesus was baptized. The plan aims to build accommodation, museums and amphitheatres, serving up to 1.5 million tourists a year.

“I think one of the things people don’t understand about this place is how inclusive it is. Almost 15% of the visitors who come here are Muslims,” ​​he told CNN. “So this is an opportunity to break down those barriers and show how proud we are not only of our historic Christian heritage here in Jordan, but also of the relationship between Christianity and Islam.”

People in the Middle East “just want to get on with their lives,” the monarch said. “So as challenging as 2022 was, and as difficult as the dangers of 2023, there is an opportunity to move beyond.”

This can be done through regional integration, he said.

“I ran away from the feeling that politics would solve our problems. It is an economic dependency,” he said. “When I’m invested in your success, because your success is my success, it ultimately means we can move forward.”

With additional reporting by CNN’s Mike Schwartz in Jerusalem.

#Jordans #king #warns #red #lines #Jerusalem #Netanyahu #returns #office

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button