On March 31, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, signed an agreement confirming their «common goal» to «defend Jerusalem and its sacred sites against Judaization» According to the agreement, Abbas recognized Abdullah as the «custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem,» and that «he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque.»

But do Abdullah and Abbas have any legal or political foundation upon which to build their joint agreement?

To start, Jordan’s «custodianship» over the Islamic sites in Jerusalem — including Al-Aqsa mosque — were granted by Israel. The peace treaty signed between Israel and Jordan in 1994 gave Jordan the privilege of overseeing and managing Al-Aqsa mosque and other Islamic sites in Jerusalem. Therefore, Abdullah has no right or entitlement to «exert any efforts to persevere Jerusalem from Judaization» — as his agreement with Abbas claims.

Further, Abdullah seems to forget that the Hashemite rule over Jordan came into existence based on the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement, signed in 1919 between Chaim Weizmann and the Hashemite Prince Faisal. Article IV of the agreement states the following:

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil.

Therefore, «Judaization» of the British Mandate for Palestine was the very thing the Hashemites were committed to support, in exchange for establishing an Arab state under Hashemite rule.

Were it not for that agreement, Abdullah’s grandfather would never have become King, nor would King Abdullah II. The terms of the agreement were clear: Jews were to settle in the British Mandate for Palestine with no exclusion of Jerusalem.

The only entitlement involving Jerusalem that the agreement offered to the Hashemites was that Muslims were to oversee the Islamic holy sites of Jerusalem.

Decades later, Jews are still honoring this commitment and allowing the Hashemites to oversee Islamic sites in Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the Hashemites have not honored their part of the deal, which is: recognizing the Jewish right to the land.

Further, in the Abbas-Abdullah joint declaration, Abdullah gained the title of «The Custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque,» which sounds remarkably similar to that of the King of Saudi Arabia: «The Custodian of the Two Shrines» — the Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina. The title originally belonged to the Hashemites who used to rule these two cities before the Saudi Kingdom took over the cities from the locally-hated Hashemites, and expelled the Hashemites to exile in Jordan. King Abdullah might well be trying to polish his image and gain public support by acquiring a title that connects his name to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

How legitimate, however, is it for King Abdullah to seek recognition as «The Custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque» from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas? Does Abbas have the authority to grant it to him?

As Abbas has overstayed his term since 2009, he is not even a legitimate president of the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, according to the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel in 1994, The Palestinian Authority has noauthority over the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. How, therefore, can Abbas grant King Abdullah or anyone else any title or authority over them?

The Jordanian regime’s connection to Jerusalem started when it occupied the city in 1948; in 1951, the Hashemites issued a constitution identifying the West Bank as a «permanent part of Jordan.» Then, the Arab League opposed the decision and refused to recognize the annexation. Only three countries, in fact, recognized Jordanian rule over the West Bank: the UK, Pakistan and Iraq, which at the time was itself under Hashemite rule. King Abdullah’s entire connection to Jerusalem is therefore based on an act of illegal occupation.

To get this straight: the Jordanian king’s current connection to Jerusalem comes from a privilege given to him by the Israelis to oversee the Islamic sites, and now King Abdullah wants to «preserve» Jerusalem from the very Jews who allowed him that privilege.

While the Hashemites established their capital only 90 years ago in Jordan, Jews had Jerusalem as their capital 3,000 years ago.

The Jews’ connections to Jerusalem started thousands of years ago; Jordan’s king has no logical reason to try to «save the city from Jews,» who belong there. The king really has no legitimate connection to Jerusalem whatsoever.

Abdullah and Abbas are both playing the Jerusalem card, probably to appeal to their angry citizens. Abdullah is facing trouble at home with ongoing protests in which some Jordanians are openly calling for him to step down; Abbas does not seem to be faring much better among the Palestinians.

Abdullah and Abbas Playing the Jerusalem Card
by Mudar Zahran
April 9, 2013 at 5:00 am