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Jordanian FM condemns plans to extend high-speed Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train into Old City Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Jordanian FM condemns plans to extend high-speed Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train into Old City

Jordan's condemnation comes as protests against Israeli actions [Getty]have swelled in the Hashemite Kingdom

Date of publication: 18 February, 2020

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Jordan has custodianship over holy sites in East Jerusalem.
Jordan's foreign ministry on Monday condemned controversial Israeli plans to extend a high-speed train connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, by opening two new stations in Jerusalem's Old City.

According to Israeli media sources, the plan would involve  excavating three kilometres of tunnel underneath the Old City, provoking the ire of Palestinian residents, as well as archeologists and religious authorities. 

Jordan has custodianship over holy sites in East Jerusalem including the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and is key source of legitimacy for the Hashemite monarchy.

In a statement, Dayfullah Al-Fayiz, a spokesman for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, condemned the measures.

"These unilateral measures are a grave violation of international and humantitarian law, as well as countless UN and UNESCO resolutions," he said.

He also warned Israel against "encroachments" on East Jerusalem's "character and identity".

Originally introduced in 2017 by his predecessor Israel Katz, current Israeli Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich praised the development as "historic" and "huge news for Israeli residents. We are also succeeding in promoting the Zionist and Jewish agenda", he added.

When the Old City train station was proposed by Katz, he proudly proclaimed that it would be named after US President Donald Trump, a woeful tribute to the latter's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Jordan's condemnation comes as protests against Israel actions swelled in the kingdom.

Many in Jordan protested plans to pump Israeli gas into the kingdom, as well as Trump's Middle East Peace plan.

Trump presented the so-called "Deal of the Century" alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the absence of Palestinian participation.

It gave Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem and the right to annex large chunks of the West Bank.

In 1994, Jordan was the second country in the Arab world after Egypt to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, but relations have been strained by an increasingly belligerent and right-wing government in Tel Aviv.

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