Jordan king says Jerusalem is ‘red line’

Israeli forces suppressing Palestinian protest in Jerusalem - 16 March 2010

Israeli forces suppressing Palestinian protest in Jerusalem - 16 March 2010

By AFP – Khaleej Times (UAE), 17 March 2010

AMMAN – Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Wednesday demanded the international community take firm action to stop Israel’s actions in Jerusalem, saying the holy city is a “red line.”

“Jerusalem is a red line and the world should not be silent about Israel’s attempts to get rid of Jerusalem’s Arabs residents, Muslims or Christians,” the king told visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to a palace statement.

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, “demands the international community take a firm, swift, direct and effective action to stop Israel’s provocative measures in Jerusalem, that seek to change its identity and threaten holy sites there,” he said.

Israel reopened Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound and lifted a days-old lockdown of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, a day after the holy city saw the heaviest Palestinian rioting in years.

Tensions soared in Jerusalem over the rededication of a 17th century synagogue near the compound, and Israel’s announcement last week to build 1,600 new homes for Jewish settlers in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

Ashton, who travels to Israel and the Palestinian territories later Wednesday, said in Cairo on Monday that Israel’s decision to build new settler homes “endangers” indirect talks with the Palestinians.

The top EU official, who also plans to visit the blockaded Gaza Strip during her regional tour, said earlier in Amman that she will push for indirect Palestinian-Israeli talks at a meeting Thursday of the Middle East Quartet in Moscow.

“It’s an opportunity for us to do more to try and support… proximity talks, leading to formal negotiations and a resolution to the issues that are so difficult at the present time,” Ashton told a news conference.

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