Reconfirming the status quo in Jerusalem will require some hard diplomacy and a lot of goodwill.
(RNS) — It is unusual for a world Muslim leader visiting the United States to request to meet with local Christian leaders. But King Abdullah II of Jordan has his responsibilities: The Hashemite king, whose lineage goes back to the Prophet Muhammad, is also the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, via a religious trust known as the Waqf Council.
On Monday (May 9) in New York, the king met with a group representing American Catholics and several mainline and African American Protestant denominations, as well as Armenian and Greek Orthodox Christians, to discuss a host of issues — from taxation to the renovation of Christ’s tomb and the Chapel of the Ascension at the Mount of Olives. He also met with affiliates of some evangelical Christian groups that have been seeking full recognition in Jordan.
But the meeting with Christian leaders was primarily aimed at paving the way for crucial discussions in Washington later this week about mounting tensions at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which is the third holiest site in Islam and includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque.