Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Jordan's King Abdullah during a private meeting at the Vatican December 19, 2017 - REUTERS/Max Rossi
VATICAN CITY - 19 December 2017: Pope Francis and Jordan’s King Abdullah on Tuesday discussed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that both say is dangerous to Middle East peace.
Abdullah and the pope spoke privately for about 20 minutes at the start of the king’s visit to the Vatican and France.
A Vatican statement said they discussed “the promotion of peace and stability in the Mideast, with particular reference to the question of Jerusalem and the role of the Hashemite Sovereign as Custodian of the Holy Places”.
King Abdullah’s Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Amman sensitive to any changes of status of the disputed city.
When Trump announced his decision on Dec. 6, the pope responded by calling for the city’s “status quo” to be respected, saying new tension in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts.
Among an outpouring of international criticism, Jordan also rejected the U.S. decision, calling it legally “null” because it consolidated Israel’s occupation of the eastern sector of the city.
The United States was further isolated over the issue on Monday when it blocked a U.N. Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn.
Both the Vatican and Jordan back a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with them agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its “united and eternal” capital.
The statement said both sides wanted to encourage negotiations.