Al-Kailani: Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites goes back more than 100 years

03 Mar 2021

Jordan Media Institute – Amman

On Tuesday, the Jordan Media Institute hosted a lecture on the Hashemite custodianship of the Christian and Muslim holy sights in Jerusalem. Speaking over Zoom, Dr. Wasfi al-Kailani, executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, addressed students of the Masters program in Journalism and New Media.

Al-Kailani said that the custodianship of the holy sights goes back more than 100 years. A story of sacrifice that began with As-Sharif Hussein bin Ali and has been passed down to the present King, His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein.

Al-Kailani also stated that the royal commitment to protect Jerusalem has been conveyed to the public at a time when Israeli occupation forces threaten Hashemite efforts to protect Jerusalem and its sacred sites.

Al-Kailani told the students that the Hashemite custodianship of Islamic holy sights in Jerusalem is a direct result of Zionist attempts to erase their Arab- Islamic identity. He noted that the preservation of the historical dimension of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s custodianship over the Islamic sites was one of the most important clauses of the 1994 peace treaty. Al-Kailani added that the 2013 agreement between King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas further confirmed His Majesty as the official custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites.

As for the custodianship of the Christian holy sites, al-Kailani said that all Christian sects requested that His Majesty King Abdullah II be their custodian after the 2013 agreement. This was motivated by a fear of attacks from the Jewish radical right, who had in the past attempted arson. The first example of this was the fire that blazed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1949, which King Abdullah I personally helped to extinguish.

Al-Kailani went on to say that the Hashemite custodianship of the Christian sites demonstrates the legacy of Umar’s Assurance and its principles, especially after the Hashemite reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other sites. At the center of the custodianship of Christian holy sites is their cental role in the life of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, with his birthplace of and other sites he visited prevailing as pilgrimage destinations for Christians from all over the world for over two thousand years.

Al-Kailani described the duties of the custodianship, which include the protection of Jerusalem, defending the rights of worshipers to visit the holy sites, and holding those who seek to defile them accountable. The custodianship may end under four conditions; firstly, a council representing the Palestinian people and the Islamic world could move to end it. Alternatively, the custodian could step down or be replaced. Finally, a combination of the previous three conditions is also possible.

Al-Kailani stated that His Majesty King Abdullah II’s oversight of the holy sites is based in religious and civil law. He argued that current competition between countries over the custodianship of Jerusalem’s sacred sites, and the attempts to interfere with the Hashemite custodianship, must be redirected into genuine attempts to conserve Jerusalem and its holy sites and to protect it from Israeli Judaization efforts.

Al-Kailani called on the media to intensify its efforts to respond to and refute foreign publications that are detrimental to the Palestinian cause, in a disciplined and professional manner. He stressed the importance of this duty in light of the escalating tyranny of the Israeli occupation forces since the “Deal of the Century.”