By JT – Aug 16,2017 – JORDAN TIMES
His Majesty King Abdullah meets with representatives of the Jerusalem Awqaf Department, Jerusalemites and the Palestinian leadership in Amman on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday praised Jerusalemites for their steadfastness and defending Al Aqsa
Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, a Royal Court statement said.
During a meeting with representatives of the Jerusalem Awqaf Department, Jerusalemites and Palestinians, His Majesty said that supporting the department is a personal priority and a basic requirement for preserving the holy sites.
Earlier this month, King Abdullah, who is the custodian of holy shrines in the Old City of Jerusalem, donated JD1 million to the awqaf department, which is affiliated with Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and is the authority in charge of managing Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.
The funds went to support construction projects and the department’s employees. Under directives by King Abdullah, the number of awqaf employees, including guards, was raised from 300 in 2010 to 800 five years later, while a decision has been taken this year to reinforce the staff with 223 other staffers.
The King stressed yesterday that Jordan would continue exerting all possible efforts to defend the Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, preserving the historical and legal status quo in the city and standing up in the face of any attempts that aim to divide the holy compound, in reference to the Israeli occupation’s reported plans to divide the sanctuary temporally between Muslims and Jews.
He noted that, during the recent crisis, it was clear that continued tension in Jerusalem would have regional and international repercussions.
His Majesty stressed the importance of direct coordination with the Jerusalemites on developments and challenges, noting that Jordan was in continuous coordination with the Palestinian leadership to solve the recent crisis, which saw Israel closing down the mosque for two days and then installing surveillance cameras and metal detectors before ending all that under pressure.
The meeting, which was attended by HRH Prince Ghazi, the King’s personal envoy and religious affairs adviser, touched on the importance of visiting the holy city by Muslims from the world to pray that would further safeguard the mosque and increase support for the Jerusalemites.
For their part, the representative expressed appreciation for Jordan’s role, under His Majesty’s leadership, in supporting the resilience of the legitimate residents of the holy city and preserving the Muslim and Christian holy sites, and the efforts Amman exerted to ensure the reopening the compound after the Israel-imposed closure last month.
Palestine Grand Mufti Mahmoud Habbash commended the high levels of coordination between Jordan and Palestine, citing His Majesty’s recent visit to Ramallah in support of the Palestinian cause.
Habbash, who is also an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urged all parties to “stand by Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority”.
Sheikh Abdul Azim Salhab, who heads the Jerusalem Awqaf Council, said that without His Majesty’s intervention in Al Aqsa Mosque crisis, “things would have been worse”.
Salhab appealed to the King to continue efforts of tackling the challenges faced by the city residents including hindrances and interference in the affairs of the awqaf department by the occupation authorities.
Director General of Jerusalem Awqaf and Al Aqsa Affairs Sheikh Azzam Khatib said that the Awqaf Department, supported by 320,000 Jerusalemites, will defend the mosque along with Jordan.