Is Jordan’s Special Role in Jerusalem a Casualty of Al-Jazeera Leaks?

The Palestinian Authority must come clean on the Jordanian Role in Jerusalem.

According to a leaked document Saeb Erekat, the Chief Palestinian negotiator said to his Israeli interlocutors that “we reject any Jordanian role over Jerusalem holy sites”.

If the document is genuine, this is alarming and is a departure from the long established understanding that Jordan has a special role in Jerusalem.

To be fair to Erekat he did mention in a recent interview on Aljazeera that Jordan under the leadership of King Abdullah II helps the Palestinians and protects the holy places in Jerusalem”.

I am not concerned about the accuracy of the leaks but Erekat has had a good chance to refute the document on a BBC interview on 26th January 2011. He said in general terms that the PLA always consults with Egypt and Jordan. He missed the opportunity to put the record straight.

The basic question is “does not his assertion contradict the declared position of the Palestinian Authority”?

First: On 5th July 2010 Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority expressed to journalists in Amman his deep appreciation to the historical role played by the Hashemite Dynasty in serving and protecting the Muslim and Christian holy sites.

Second: In March 2010, Riad Al-Maliki the Foreign Minister, during the Arab Foreign Ministerial meeting preparing for the Arab Summit at SIRT in Libya, emphasised the vital Jordanian role in protecting the Islamic and Christian holy sites.

Third: On 9th September 2009, the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories Sheikh Mohammad Hussein praised Jordan’s unstinting support for the Islamic holy places and Jordan’s qualitative care for the Alqsa mosque and the upgrading of the infrastructure.

Fourth: Sheikh Abdul Azeem Salhab, the President of the Islamic Endowment Council expressed his appreciation for the effective role in protecting and caring for the holy places in Jerusalem.

Only some weeks ago, Salam Fayyad the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister expressed his thanks to Queen Rania for her school initiative in Jerusalem and made a specific mention of His Majesty’s focusing on Jerusalem.

Questions to Erekat?

Are all of them joking?

Does Erekat represent the Authority and its policies?

Does he consult with the religious leaders in Jerusalem and his colleagues in the PLA?

In the interest of truth and credibility we need a crystal clear explanation from the Palestinian Authority.

It is not surprising that some Arab media deliberately ignores or belittles Jordan’s role in Jerusalem. They have their own political agenda.

Article 9 of the Wadi Arba peace Agreement recognizes Jordan’s special role in Jerusalem. Article 9 also stipulates that Jordan’s role must be acknowledged and taken into account in any eventual peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US Foreign Ministry document 93085 (1994) deals with the US Jordan relations refers specifically to a special and continuing Jordan role in Jerusalem.

To clear the air and remove any doubts, it is now necessary for the PLA to make a clear and an unambiguous statement about Jordan’s special responsibilities for the Jerusalem Muslim and Christian Holy Sites.