Biden supports legal 'status quo' of Jerusalem in meeting with Jordanian king

AFP , Thursday 2 Feb 2023

President Joe Biden on Thursday underlined his support for the legal "status quo" of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound in a meeting at the White House with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

King Abdullah II of Jordan
King Abdullah II of Jordan, accompanied by Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, not shown, leaves the White House after a lunch meeting with President Joe Biden, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Washington. AP


Biden, the king and Crown Prince Hussein had a private lunch in which the US president "reaffirmed the close, enduring nature of the friendship between the United States and Jordan," the White House said.

Referring to growing tensions around the Al-Aqsa mosque -- located on a site venerated both by Muslims and Jews inside Israeli-occupied and annexed east Jerusalem -- Biden reaffirmed "the critical need to preserve the historic status quo."

Biden also recognized Jordan's "crucial role as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem," the White House said in a statement.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Biden reiterated the US position of "strong support for a two-state solution," also thanking King Abdullah "for his close partnership and the role he and Jordan play as a force for stability in the Middle East."

Al-Aqsa mosque is the third-holiest place in Islam and the most sacred site to Jews, who refer to the compound as the Temple Mount.

Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there.

In recent years, a growing number of Jews, most of them Israeli nationalists, have covertly prayed at the compound, angering Palestinians. In January, the national security minister in Israel's new far-right government made his own visit to the site, sparking a torrent of international condemnation.

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