Washington/Jerusalem: President Joe Biden on Friday reaffirmed his administration’s support for Jordan’s long-running role as the custodian of Muslim holy sites at the Al Haram Al Sharif in Jerusalem following a meeting with King Abdullah II at the White House.
Biden met with Jordan’s Abdullah after several rounds of clashes in recent weeks at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site for Muslims. It is built on a hilltop that is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. The White House said in a statement following the meeting that Biden reiterated “his strong support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cited the need to preserve the historic status quo at the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount,’’ using the names for the holy site used by Muslims and Jews.
“The President also recognized the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s crucial role as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem,’’ the White House added in statement.
Palestinians have long feared that Israel plans to eventually take over the site or partition it.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called images of Israeli riot police pushing and beating pallbearers at Friday’s funeral in Jerusalem for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh “deeply disturbing.’’
Witnesses said Abu Aqleh was killed by Israeli troops Wednesday during a raid in the occupied West Bank.
Thousands of people, many waving Palestinian flags, attended the funeral. It was believed to be the largest Palestinian funeral in Jerusalem since Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian leader and scion of a prominent family, died in 2001.
Israel police were seen pushing and clubbing mourners. At one point in the chaos, a pallbearer lost control of the casket and it dropped toward the ground. Police ripped Palestinian flags out of people’s hands and fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
“Today in Jerusalem we regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful possession,’’ Psaki said.
The scenes of violence were likely to add to the sense of grief and outrage across the Arab world that has followed the death of Abu Aqleh, who witnesses say was killed by Israeli troops Wednesday during a raid in the occupied West Bank.
They also illustrated the deep sensitivities over east Jerusalem — which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians and has sparked repeated rounds of violence.
Abu Aqleh, 51, was a household name across the Arab world, synonymous with Al Jazeera’s coverage of life under Israeli rule, which is well into its sixth decade with no end in sight. A 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, she was revered by Palestinians as a local hero.
Thousands of people, many waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Palestine! Palestine!’’ attended the funeral. It was believed to be the largest Palestinian funeral in Jerusalem since Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian leader and scion of a prominent family, died in 2001.
Ahead of the burial, a large crowd gathered to escort her casket from an east Jerusalem hospital to a Catholic church in the nearby Old City. Many of the mourners held Palestinian flags, and the crowd began shouting, “We sacrifice our soul and blood for you, Shireen.’’
Shortly after, Israel police moved in, pushing and clubbing mourners. As the helmeted riot police approached, they hit pallbearers, causing one man to lose control of the casket as it dropped toward the ground. Police ripped Palestinian flags out of people’s hands and fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
Abu Aqleh’s brother, Tony, said the scenes “prove that Shireen’s reports and honest words ... had a powerful impact.’’
Al Jazeera correspondent Givara Budeiri said the police crackdown was like killing Abu Aqleh again. “It seems her voice isn’t silent,’’ she said during a report by the broadcaster.