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Abbas, King Abdullah sign Jerusalem agreement

March 31, 2013 4:01 P.M. (Updated: April 2, 2013 5:03 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday signed an agreement to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites, Palestinian Authority media reported.

Abbas flew to Amman on Sunday for a meeting with King Abdullah at the Royal Palace, attended by the PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmud al-Habash and his Jordanian counterpart Muhammad Qudah.

Habash told Wafa news agency that the agreement outlined coordination for the protection of all Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

The agreement confirmed Jordan's historic role in protecting sacred sites in Jerusalem, Habash said. It also confirmed Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including its capital East Jerusalem, the minister added.

The Jordanian palace said the agreement reiterated the king's custodial role.

"In this historic agreement, Abbas reiterated that the king is the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem and that he has the right to exert all legal efforts to preserve them, especially Al-Aqsa mosque," the palace said in a statement.

"It is also emphasising the historical principles agreed by Jordan and Palestine to exert joint efforts to protect the city and holy sites from Israeli Judaisation attempts."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Earlier Sunday, Abbas' spokesman condemned a visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Jewish extremists.

Nabil Abu Rdeina said the visit provoked tensions and threatened any chances of peace.

Witnesses told Ma'an that dozens of Jewish settlers visited the compound on Sunday. An Israeli settler drank wine, considered a desecration of the holy site in Islam, and another allowed her daughter to urinate near an olive tree, they said.

During clashes in the compound, Israeli police attacked Muslim worshipers with electric shock batons, witnesses added.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an that forces arrested six Palestinians in the compound for throwing stones at groups of Jewish and Christian visitors.

The compound is the third holiest site in Islam. It is known as the Temple Mount to Jews and is Judaism's most sacred site.

It is one of the most sensitive sites in Jerusalem, and clashes frequently break out between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

"Jerusalem is currently facing major challenges and attempts to change its Arab, Muslim and Christian identity," the palace said.

Jordan, which has a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, administers the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem through its ministry of religious affairs.
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