The meeting of the heads of churches and the representatives of Islamic and Christian functionaries in Jordan and Palestine this year--a few days ahead of Christmas and the New Year--with His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, has a special flavor as it comes in light of the continued aggression against Gaza and the siege imposed on the Church there, which are associated with the tragedies that have occurred and the flagrant violations of human rights, among groups, families, and individuals.
Since 1999, that is, since His Majesty the King ascension to the Throne in 1999, it has become a good tradition for Church leaders to meet with His Majesty the King during Christmas and the New Year celebrations. Every year, joyful greetings have been prevalent marking the feasts, and this matter developed into an annual Muslim-Christian meeting in the presence of His Majesty the King. Every year, joyful well-wishes were prevalent marking the feasts, as this matter developed into an annual Muslim-Christian meeting in the presence of His Majesty the King. But this year, this meeting was overshadowed by the events in dear Gaza, and it turned into an Islamic-Christian meeting for the sake of greater convergence and for attaining national cohesion to rally behind His Majesty the King, as well as to support him with his benevolent, noble, and patriotic diplomatic efforts which enjoy sublime reputation and are highly valued in all corners of the Earth.
The Christians and Muslims of Jordan have firmly asserted their rallying behind His Majesty the King, who ably guides Jordanian diplomacy with prestige and wisdom. As for the arrivals from Jerusalem, they came to convey in the first place the thanks and appreciation of the people of Jerusalem for His Majesty’s care and custodian of the holy sites and the Hashemite policy, which considers “Palestine as our compass and Jerusalem as its crown.” The people of Jerusalem also come to express their concern and the harassment that occurred even before the events of October 7. There have been numerous harassments during which the people of Jerusalem, its churches, mosques, as the pilgrims there as well were subjected to the harshest expressions of insults, mockery, and the dissemination of hatred by groups of settlers. His Majesty the King also listened to a number of addresses from the patriarchs of Jerusalem, who spiritually administer the churches of Jordan, and heard addresses as well from Islamic and Christian leaders in Palestine and Jordan.
This year's meeting marks the 25th anniversary of His Majesty the King's ascension to the Throne, and a quarter of a century since the initiation of this annual meeting, which is considered one of the most important meetings that ever takes place on the threshold of the new year. It is 25 years, and a silver jubilee of continued benevolence in the field of encounter and harmony, and in the field of viewing religion as a sign of security and stability, as well as a sign of mutual affection and love among people, and a sign of advancing the values of peace and justice in Palestine and the world.
It is a quarter of a century of initiatives that have been exported from the holy and immortal Jordan under the leadership of His Majesty the King, which started with the inauguration of the Baptism Site in its capacity as a pioneering and unique site in the world for Christian pilgrimage. Furthermore, they are harmonious and noble initiatives, as next year we mark the 20th anniversary of the issuance of the Amman Message which has become a genuine reference for clarifying the nature of Islam, its openness, and its good relations with Christians throughout history, as well as the Common Word Initiative of 2007, and the great initiative that His Majesty the King presented on the United Nations platform in 2010 to consider the first week of February as a week of interfaith harmony, and this is what happened with a nonpareil international consensus.
Let us not forget the valuable awards which His Majesty the King received, that are appreciated by Christians and Muslims, such as the award of the 2005 First John Paul II Peace Prize, the 2018 Templeton Prize, the 2019 Lamp od Peace Award, and the 2022 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, in addition to Jordan’s welcoming of the forcibly displaced Christians coming from Mosul in Iraq and other towns of Nineveh Plain ten years ago.
I have been honored to be one of the attendees at this meeting in Al-Husseiniya Palace, in the presence of His Majesty King Abdullah II, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al-Hussein Ibn Abdullah, and His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Ibn Muhammad, His Majesty’s advisor for religious affairs. I would say that we have an exuberant record of love, harmony, and national cohesion which are embodied in this annual meeting that takes place this year amidst tragic conditions. The attendees were supportive of the efforts undertaken by His Majesty the King, at a time when he is the supporter of the Palestinian people’s endeavor to end not only the current aggression against Gaza, but rather after that to eradicate the entire occupation and to establish an independent Palestinian state with noble Jerusalem as its capital.