AMMAN — Jordan and Palestine on Sunday signed an agreement under which the Palestinian side “reaffirmed” the status of His Majesty King Abdullah as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
His Majesty and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the “historic” agreement, which, according to a Royal Court statement, will help Jordan and Palestine exert all efforts to protect Jerusalem and its holy sites from “Israeli escalatory Judaisation measures” and aims at protecting hundreds of waqf properties that are endowed to Al Aqsa Mosque.
Under the deal, King Abdullah enjoys the “full right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard and preserve [Jerusalem’s holy sites], especially Al Aqsa Mosque, defined as the entire Al Haram Al Sharif compound (or the noble sanctuary whose area is estimated at 144 dunums).
The agreement “also reaffirms the historic principles upon which Jordan and Palestine are in agreement as regards Jerusalem and their common goal of defending Jerusalem together, especially at such a critical time, when the city is facing dramatic challenges and daily illegal changes to its authenticity and original identity”.
The two sides also reasserted the status of East Jerusalem as a “Palestinian sovereign occupied territory, and that all post-1967 occupation practices or aggressions against Jerusalem are not recognised by any international or legal entity”.
In remarks to the press after the signing ceremony, President Abbas said the agreement only reaffirms a “reality that has been there since 1924”.
Present at the ceremony were Crown Prince Hussein, along with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Feisal, Prince Ali and Prince Ghazi, who is the King’s adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy.
It was also attended by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Senate President Taher Masri and Lower House Speaker Saad Hayel Srour, along with Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, King’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Mohammad Qudah.
From the Palestinian side, Awqaf Minister Mahmoud Habbash and Palestinian Ambassador in Amman Atallah Khairi were also present.
Following is the full text of the agreement:
Agreement between His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, the Custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, Head of Palestinian Liberation Organisation, and President of the Palestinian National Authority
Glory to Him Who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, the environs of which We have blessed, that We might show him of our signs! Indeed He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (The Holy Koran, Al Isra’, 17:1)
Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly. (The Holy Koran, Al Saff, 61:4)
This agreement has been made by and between:
His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem,
His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas, in his capacity as President of the State of Palestine, and Head of The Palestine Liberation Organisation, the representative of the Palestinian people, and President of the Palestinian National Authority,
A. Recalling the indissoluble bond between all members of the Arab and Muslim Umma;
B. Recalling the special status of Jerusalem as a holy and sacred city in Islam, and recalling present and eternal association of the holy sites with Muslims of all lands and all ages; and bearing in mind the significance of Jerusalem to those of other faiths;
C. Recalling the unique religious importance, to all Muslims, of Al Masjid Al Aqsa with its 144 dunums, which include the Qibli Mosque of Al Aqsa, the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock and all its mosques, buildings, walls, courtyards, attached areas over and beneath the ground and the Waqf properties tied-up to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, to its environs or to its pilgrims (hereinafter referred to as “Al Haram Al Sharif”);
D. Recalling the role of King Al Sharif Hussein Bin Ali in protecting, and taking care of the holy sites in Jerusalem and in the restoration of the holy sites since 1924; recalling the uninterrupted continuity of this role by His Majesty King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who is a descendant of Al Sharif Hussein Bin Ali; recalling that the Bay’ah (oath of allegiance) according to which Al Sharif Hussein Bin Ali held the custodianship of the Jerusalem holy sites, which custodianship was affirmed to Al Sharif Hussein Bin Ali by the people of Jerusalem and Palestine on March 11, 1924; and recalling that the Custodianship of the holy sites of Jerusalem has devolved to His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein; including that which encompasses the “Rum” (Greek) Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem that is governed by the Jordanian Law No. 27 of the year 1958;
E. The continuity of Hashemite King of Jordan’s custodianship of the holy sites since 1924 makes His Majesty more able to maintain the holy sites and to preserve Al Masjid Al Aqsa (Al Haram Al Sharif);
F. Recognising that the Palestine Liberation Organisation is the sole legitimate and legal representative of the Palestinian people and;
G. Recognising that the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people is expressed in realising the State of Palestine whose territory encompasses the land within which Al Masjid Al Aqsa (Al Haram Al Sharif) is situated;
H. Recalling the terms of the official statement by His Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, concerning Jordan’s qualified disengagement from the West Bank, made on 31 July, 1988; the statement excluded the Jerusalem holy sites;
I. Recalling the terms of the official statement by the Jordanian Government on its role in Jerusalem, made on 28 July, 1994, reaffirming Jordan’s invariable position and historic, exclusive role over the holy sites;
Intending to establish legal obligations and to affirm their recognition of the legal status of the parties set out in this agreement, the parties to this agreement have agreed and declare as follows:
The “Preamble” to this agreement shall be an integral part of this agreement and is to be read and construed with it as a whole.
2.1. His Majesty King Abdullah II, as the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, exerts all possible efforts to preserve the Jerusalem holy sites, especially Al Haram Al Sharif, which is defined in item (c) in the Preamble to this agreement, and to represent their interests so as to:
A. assert the respect for the Jerusalem holy sites;
B. affirm that all Muslims, now and forever, may travel to and from the Islamic holy sites and worship there, in conformance with freedom of worship;
C. to administer the Islamic holy sites and to maintain them so as to (i) respect and preserve their religious status and significance; (ii) reaffirm the proper identity and sacred character of the holy sites; and (iii) respect and preserve their historical, cultural and artistic significance and their physical fabric;
D. to represent the interests of the holy sites in relevant international forums and competent international organisations through feasible legal means;
E. to oversee and manage the institution of Waqf in Jerusalem and its properties in accordance with the laws of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
2.2. The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, will continue to endeavour to procure that the duties referred to in Article 2.1. here be fulfilled.
2.3. The Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian National Authority recognise the role of the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan set out in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this Article 2 and undertake to respect it.
3.1. The Government of the State of Palestine, as the expression of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, shall have the right to exercise sovereignty over all parts of its territory, including Jerusalem.
3.2. The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Palestinian President will consult and coordinate with each other concerning the holy sites when necessary.
Done at the Royal Palace in Amman on Sunday, March 31, 2013 on Jumada I 19, 1434 Hijri.