Jordan's king denounces Israeli digging

Feb. 6, 2007 at 10:53 AM
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AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Jordan's King Abdullah has denounced Israeli measures against Islamic shrines in Jerusalem after bulldozers started digging near al-Aqsa Mosque.

The official Jordanian news agency, Petra, quoted the monarch Tuesday as saying he was "deeply concerned" about the digging, indicating Israel is violating its 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, which gave the kingdom legal custodianship over the Islamic shrines in Jerusalem.

Petra quoted Abdullah II as saying the Israeli "attacks against our Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem, especially on the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, is an unacceptable and blatant violation under any pretext."

He urged his government to launch contacts with Arab and international parties, as well as the Israeli authorities, to stop the digging around al-Aqsa, Islam's third-holiest shrine.

Israeli bulldozers Tuesday began flattening a dirt hill leading to one of the main gates to the Aqsa compound. Israel says it plans to build a bridge there after a snow storm two years ago rendered the hill unsafe.

The move prompted Palestinian protests in east Jerusalem, where clashes erupted with Israeli police and at least seven Palestinian youth were arrested. Hundreds of others were prevented from holding a peaceful demonstration to protest the digging.

The Jordanian king's statement came as the Hamas-led Palestinian government called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference and leaders of the Arab and Muslim worlds to take the "appropriate measures to deter the Israeli penetration of al-Aqsa Mosque."

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