JORDAN - On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, His Majesty King Abdullah II met with Patriarchs Pierbattista Pizzaballa and Theophilos III as well as Jerusalem Islamic Waqf representatives at Al Husseiniya Palace, to reaffirm his support for the steadfastness of Jerusalemites and stress the historical and religious responsibility of safeguarding holy sites in Jerusalem.
This meeting came amid the ongoing violent clashes in Jerusalem, that first erupted on Friday evening, April 16, 2021, which marked the first Friday of Ramadan. Israeli police had previously put up barriers around Damascus Gate, hindering the movement of Muslim worshipers.
“In recent days, our city of Jerusalem has once again been at the center of tensions, divisions, and expressions of hatred,” said His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in his message to His Majesty King Abdullah II during the meeting.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time, and we fear it will not even be the last. We need to pray a great deal and with sincerity, for God to touch the hardened hearts of men. But we must also all work together, so that this situation ends, and Jerusalem once again becomes the Holy City, a city of prayer, hospitality and open to all. In this sense, your role, Majesty, is appreciated,” he continued.
Voicing his best wishes to Jordanians on the occasion of their state’s centennial, Patriarch Pizzaballa said that “it is important to reiterate the historical and actual role that the Hashemite House plays for the city of Jerusalem, as a guarantor of the equality of all its citizens, of all faiths, who have in their holy places, places of prayer, of welcome, of peaceful encounter and not a battleground.”
The Latin Patriarch also expressed his appreciation for King Abdullah’s commitment to free access to the Holy Places and the respect of the Status Quo in Jerusalem, and his promotion for inter-religious harmony.
The Bishop of Jerusalem described King Abdullah’s strong voice as “a call to achieve justice and peace," noting that the King’s openness has contributed to creating a community where Christians and Muslims are partners in citizenship and destiny. “May this example become a model also for other countries of the Region,” he said.
For his part, Patriarch Theophilos III, emphasized the king’s efforts to preserve the historical identity of Jerusalem and the Christian presence in it. He said: "Your Majesty inherits and guards the Covenant of Omar ibn Al Khattab to our predecessor Patriarch Sophronios with its 1,400 years of guardianship of the rights of the churches. This is the authentic example we have been living, in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and is of great encouragement and support to us, especially at a time when the Christian presence in the Holy Land, so vital to the historic and peaceful coexistence within our region, is facing new and serious challenges.”
Muhammad Hussain, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem; Abdul Azim Salhab, Jerusalem Waqf Council President and Muhammad Azzam Khatib, Jerusalem Waqf Department Director, were also present. The latter said that the Waqf Department “is carrying out its duties towards worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque despite all difficulties.”
Cover photo: The Royal Hashemite Court