A historic agreement signed in Amman Sunday, March 31, between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II takes a new stand on Jerusalem – one of the core issues subject to negotiation with Israel – by accepting the king as Custodian of the city’s Holy Sites. The Palestinians agreed that Abdullah “will oversee and manage the Waqf (Muslim religious authority) in Jerusalem” and represent the interests of the Holy Sites “in relevant international forums… through feasible legal means.”
Where the Palestinian (Wafa) and Jordanian (Petra) versions of the same agreement differ is over the definition of “Palestinian sovereignty.”
DEBKAfile: However, by this document, the Palestinian leader and the king have laid the foundation for a mixed Arab-Palestinian-Israeli framework for managing the shrines holy to Jews (who are not mentioned), Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem. It has opened the door to what many will be perceive as a proposal to internationalize Jerusalem’s sanctuaries, a status affirmed but never honored from 1948 to 1967.
This foundation will not only raise strong Israeli objections but also be challenged by many Palestinians and therefore will have to last a long and tortuous course to survive.