The Hashemite dynasty of Jordan will continue to exercise, with even more vigor and determination, its historical responsibility to protect and safeguard the Holy Places of Jerusalem, so that believers can continue to visit there freely.
King Abdullah II reaffirmed the historic protection claimed by the Royal House of Jordan over Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem on the evening of Monday, April 25, during the official Iftar (breaking of the fast) dinner held at the palace. in Amman, attended by senior representatives of the Christian and Islamic communities in Jerusalem.
The banquet was attended by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, as well as the young Crown Prince of Jordan, Al Hussein bin Abdullah II.
Recent weeks have seen a further escalation of tensions and clashes around Christian and Muslim holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. Last week, clashes between Palestinian Muslims and Israeli police forces again occurred on the Esplanade of the Mosques.
On the other hand, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem deplored the restrictions imposed by Israel to limit the number of worshipers inside and around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on April 23, Holy Saturday, the day of the traditional ceremony of the sacred fire, at the beginning of the Easter Vigil, and on April 24, Easter Sunday for the Churches which follow the Julian calendar.
During Monday night's dinner, the Jordanian media reports, King Abdullah confirmed that Jordan is coordinating with other Arab political leaders to counter all violations that jeopardize the still fragile coexistence of different religious communities in the holy city.
During the banquet, Msgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said the connection between the King and the Hashemite Royal House with Jerusalem is internationally recognized and appreciated, stressing that the King's voice is a point of reference in the face of the periodic resurgence of tensions around the Holy Places.
On Monday, April 25, Jordan's House of Representatives voted to increase penalties for offenses of outrage against religious beliefs or feelings. The minimum sentence for these offenses is now four months imprisonment (compared to three months previously) and a fine not exceeding 500 Jordanian dinars (compared to 20 dinars previously).