At a luncheon held at the site of Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan in honour of the Christian leadership of Jerusalem and Jordan, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan reiterated his support for the rights of Christians within the Holy City, as well as to commemorate the solidarity felt between Christians and Muslims within Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Jordan. The luncheon was held as part of the wider Christmas and New Year celebrations, during which King Abdullah sought to address the state of affairs for the Christian community in the region.
His Majesty spoke warmly of the strong interfaith values that were promoted within the kingdom and praised the feelings of brotherhood and harmony that existed between the different religious groups. He asserted that Christians and Muslims are “one family” within Jordan, and spoke appreciatively of the churches and Awqaf of Jerusalem for their role in honouring the Pact of Omar, which helps ensure religious coexistence between the communities of Jerusalem.
In particular, the King also wished to stress his desire to ensure that the rights of Christians within the city of Jerusalem be respected and reiterated his support for the preservation of churches and other holy sites within the city. The statement comes in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that caused concern within Christian communities within Israel and beyond, as well as outrage across the Islamic world.
King Abdullah assured those present that he regarded Trump’s decision to recognise the Israeli claim to Jerusalem as illegal and void under international agreements and law and that the “rights of Christians to Jerusalem were eternal”.
For their part, the Christian leaders present thanked His Majesty for his role in protecting Jerusalem’s holy sites and upholding the rights of the city’s citizens, making particular note of King Abdullah’s role as Custodian of Jerusalem’s Christian and Islamic holy sites. They also repeated their rejections of Trump’s declarations, as they regard it as an illegal act that undermines peace in the region and conflicts with Christian teachings.
As part of their speech, they urged the King of Jordan to continue to speak on their behalf to the UN, UNESCO, and other international organisations on their behalf, and denounced Israel’s attempts to erase Jerusalem’s Arab identity.