A noteworthy recognition of a noble mission: safeguarding holy sites in Jerusalem

Posted on Mar 7, 2020

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay has praised His Majesty King Abdullah’s constructive role as the Custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

During her recent visit to the Kingdom, the UNESCO chief also commended the King’s vision of Jerusalem as a unifying city of peace and harmony for the three monotheistic religions.

His Majesty King Abdullah, accompanied by HRH Crown Prince Hussein, met with Azoulay and discussed advancing cooperation between Jordan and UNESCO, especially in safeguarding cultural heritage.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay met with King Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein

At the meeting, the King noted UNESCO’s important role in preserving endangered World Heritage Sites, especially the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls.

This comes as no surprise, given the historical Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem and Jordan’s relentless efforts in regional and international forums to preserve the religious and cultural identity of the holy city.

On March 31, 2013, His Majesty King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a historical agreement in Amman reaffirming the King’s Custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem, which includes His Majesty’s right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard them, especially Al Aqsa Mosque, which is defined as “The Entirety of Al Haram Al Sharif”.

Jerusalem occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of the Hashemites, as it is home to some of the most important and revered Islamic holy sites, most notably Al Haram Al Sharif, with its two mosques and the tombs of a number of prophets and major Islamic figures.

The holy city is also home to a deeply rooted Islamic architectural heritage, mirrored in its schools, alleys, corners, markets and libraries.

Earlier this year, His Majesty met with church leaders from Jerusalem, where they stressed the importance of the Hashemite Custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, highlighting the importance of supporting His Majesty’s efforts in this regard.

Over the years, Jordan’s diplomatic efforts have paid off, resulting in UNESCO actions to preserve Jerusalem’s cultural identity.

The decision of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in July, 2017 to call on Israel, the occupying power, to stop persistent excavations, tunnelling, construction, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, and especially in the Old City, is one of the numerous examples of Jordanian undertakings on this front.

It is important to note that participants in the World Heritage Committee’s 41st session in Krakow, Poland, decided to keep Jerusalem’s Old City and its historic walls on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Preserving and protecting Jerusalem’s holy shrines is not a fleeting concern within Jordan’s national priorities. Rather, the revered city and its symbolism are etched in the collective conscience of Jordanians.

Despite the occupation’s efforts to sabotage Jordan’s role in Jerusalem, the Kingdom’s leadership, with its citizens rallying behind the Hashemites, is steadfast in this historic mission.