Jordan’s Abdullah at UN Warns Israel Not to “Undermine” Status Quo in Yerushalayim

By Zalman Ahnsaf

King Abdullah II of Jordan addresses the 77th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

YERUSHALAYIM – On the first say of the annual gathering of the U.N.’s General Assembly, Israel was mentioned many times, alongside references to Ukraine, Iran and other conflict zones.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the session Tuesday by condemning Israel’s military rule in Yehuda and Shomron.

“In Israel and Palestine, cycles of violence under the occupation continue as prospects for peace based on a two-state solution grow ever more distant,” Guterres said.

The bulk of Guterres’ speech, however, was focused on the Ukraine war, the global food crisis and climate change.

Israel was mentioned together with areas of global conflict including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar and Syria.

The Palestinian delegation to the U.N. said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to the secretary-general calling on him to ensure “the right to self-determination, independence, and return.”

But it was not clear that his remarks were influenced by the Abbas missive.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned against “undermining” the status quo in Yerushalayim,  ahead of his meeting later in the day with Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Jordan is the custodian of Har Habayis, and has frequently accused Israel of seeking to alter the status quo at the site and causing violence. Israel denies the accusations, insisting that its security forces take action there only in response to rioting and terrorist attacks.

“The future of Jerusalem is an urgent concern. The city is holy to billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews around the world. Undermining Jerusalem’s legal and historical status quo triggers global tensions and deepens religious divides,” Abdullah said.

He also claimed that Christians are “under fire” in the city. Israel has had some disputes recently with Christian leaders over the ownership of property in the capital.

“As a Muslim leader, let me say clearly that we are committed to defending the rights, the precious heritage of the Christian people for our region. Nowhere is that more important than in Jerusalem. Today, Christianity in the holy city is under fire. The rights of churches in Jerusalem are threatened. This cannot continue,” he says.

He called for support for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with Yerushalayim as the shared capital.

Improved relations with Israel did not deter Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from demanding an end to “illegal settlements.”

“We need to finalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all through the establishment of a two-state solution,” he said.

He also appealed for more international aid for the Palestinians and expressed concern about the Iranian nuclear program. He criticized Greece for its refugee policies and vowed to “defend our rights” in the Eastern Aegean.

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric continued his long-standing criticism of Israel, saying that the world should “not normalize ongoing violations of human rights of the Palestinian people, to uphold international law and the resolutions which this very assembly takes year after year.”

However, he then tempered his remarks by calling for “guaranteeing Israel’s legitimate right to live within safe and internationally recognized borders.

Chile’s Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola apologized on Monday to Israeli President Isaac Herzog for her country’s refusal to accept the new Israeli ambassador’s credentials. The refusal was reportedly due to the killing of Palestinian teenager during an IDF operation in the Shomron last week.

Urrejola approached Herzog in London shortly after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II to express regret over the incident and voiced hope for improved relations, according to media reports.

Boric refused to accept the accreditation of ambassador-designate Gil Artzyeli due to “the political sensitivity” generated by the death of the 17-year-old.

Chile’s Foreign Ministry has announced that Artzyeli will be allowed to present his credentials on September 30.

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