Sustaining the presence of Palestinians in East Jerusalem


The 30th Arab summit in Tunis ended its meetings on Monday with the adoption of strong words of praise and appreciation for the Hashemite Custodianship over the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, especially Al Aqsa Mosque.

This recognition of the Jordanian role in safeguarding and maintaining the holy places in East Jerusalem stands out as among the most important decisions adopted by the Arab leaders at the Tunis summit. The Hashemite role in protecting the Islamic and Christian holy places has already won international acclaim, recognition and appreciation. Jordan’s Jerusalem Awqaf Department has also won recognition as the sole entity that has authority and mandate to administer Al Aqsa Mosque.

These words of appreciation, however, come with a price.

Protecting the holy places in Jerusalem from Israeli encroachments does not come free, as much effort and expenditures are incurred to offset the financial implications. Yet, Jordan has borne the brunt of the expenditures associated with its role as the custodian of the holy places, and has successfully put its political weight behind this responsibility at a time when Israel continues to fight tooth and nail the Hashemite role.

It so happens that the preservation and protection of the holy places in Jerusalem requires also the promotion of the Islamic and Christian infrastructures in East Jerusalem. This noble mission cannot also be completed without aiding and supporting the continued steadfastness of the Palestinian people belonging to both faiths. The Israeli pressures on Muslim and Christian Palestinians to leave their homeland by all means, including the application of stiff administrative rules governing their residency, are obviously intended to suffocate the Palestinians and drive them away from their homeland.

An Arab and Islamic fund needs to be created to sustain the continued presence of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. This has become a major policy goal that the Islamic and Arab worlds are called upon to adopt as a matter of highest priority. 

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