Jordan's King Abdullah
Jordan's King Abdullah Israel news photo

Jordan’s King Abdullah warned the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sunday that Israel threatens to evict Muslims and Christians from eastern Jerusalem. The king also said Jordan will act to protect non-Jewish holy sites in the Palestinian Authority area, where it had closed all non-Muslim sites before Judea and Samaria were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.

King Abdullah also told Archbishop Rowan Williams that Western churches could play an important role in supporting peacemaking efforts in the Middle East. Jordan has offered a plot of land in the Jordan Valley for the Anglican church, which on Sunday laid the foundation stone for a church at the Baptism site.

Until eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were restored to Israel in 1967, Jordan had closed off all Jewish and Christian sites, except for tours by visting dignitaries.

Although King Abdullah warned that Israel is threatening against Muslims and Christians, the number of Christians in Jerusalem during the Jordanian rule actually dwindled from 25,000 in 1949 to fewer than 13,000 in 1967, when the Jewish State re-opened Christian holy sites.

The 1949 Armistice Agreement provided for the resumption of normal operations at sites in eastern Jerusalem, including the Mount of Olives cemetery. However, Jordan denied access to it and allowed the construction of a road across the cemetery, where hundreds of Jewish graves were destroyed and used by Arab Legionnaires as pavement stones.

Jordan also allowed only a limited number of Christians to visit sites in the Old City and Bethlehem and restricted the visits to the Easter and Christmas holidays. The kingdom also passed laws that required the teaching of the Quran, ordered Christian schools to close on Fridays instead of Sunday and banned Christian purchases of property in Jerusalem.