The Holy City of Jerusalem

As a Symbol of Interfaith Peace

I think that Jerusalem should become the symbol of peace between the followers of the three basic monotheistic religions. It should be above the sovereignty of any country or the control of any side. Jerusalem, east and west, could become the capital of both Palestinians and Israelis. It could be two capitals. It could be whatever they choose in the future. But we will always have ties with Jerusalem. My great-grandfather was buried there. My grandfather fell there. Jerusalem is as important to us as any of the holiest sites in the Muslim world. Solving the problem of Jerusalem will symbolize the coming together of the Children of Abraham, and until this happens we will do our duty, to help and push in that direction.

Interview with Milton Viorst
“The Hashemite Option”
Chapter 10 of In the Shadow of the Prophet, 1998


With regards to the Holy Places, the rights of all monotheistic religions—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—should be respected equally, and above the sovereign considerations of any state, to become the symbol of peace between all the People of the Book, the descendants of the Children of Abraham, peace be upon him.

Letter to Prime Minister Abdel Salaam al-Majali
December 4, 1997


Jerusalem, the old holy city, is above sovereignty. It belongs to all the descendants of the Children of Abraham—Muslims, Jews and Christians. It must become a symbol of peace, the essence of peace, between all of us. A point of light for the whole world. This does not make it possible for any one side to unilaterally disturb the status quo until there is agreement all around.

Interview with Global Viewpoint
The Washington Times
October 13, 1996


As far as Jerusalem, I do not believe anyone is suggesting that Jerusalem be divided in the sense of creating walls and barriers. What we are involved in is a process of destroying and removing barriers. Jerusalem, the holy city, is important and is very much a part of the heart and soul of every follower of the three great monotheistic religions. Therefore, it has to be elevated to that status, which means the coming together of all of us. Beyond that, East Jerusalem is occupied territory since 1967. I don’t see why a solution cannot be found that will make Jerusalem not only the center of our coming together, in terms of the three monotheistic religions, but also as a symbol of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Interview with the Los Angeles Times
June 16, 1996


For members of the three Abrahamic faiths on every continent, the old city of Jerusalem is the goal of pilgrimage and a pole of prayer. Mosques, churches and temples each bear witness to the central place of the holy city in the thoughts and visions of believers around the world. It has always been our hope that Holy Jerusalem will not be a cause for conflict, but a platform for reconciliation. Its history should never again be “liberation” for some, and “loss” for others. Its rightful place in history is where the three faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—converge, and where sovereignty is God’s alone.

Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, France
September 25, 1995


I have been calling all along for Jerusalem to be the essence and reality of two facts in a context of regional and comprehensive peace: One the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli problem, and Jerusalem must come to represent that in some way hopefully.

West Jerusalem is always a de facto capital of the State of Israel. I believe that in the occupied east part of the city the Palestinians must also have their place and then that would be a great accomplishment for all the times to come.

In the other area on a spiritual level is that for the city, the Old City, that is so important to all the followers of the three great Abrahamic religions, that this city should come to represent peace between them, represent cohesion and cooperation, in encouraging interfaith dialogue to the best of our ability . . . and it is time that this reality came to be, because if it does and when it does, it will mean that those holy sites . . . would not belong to one or the other, but they belong to all of us who have the same one God and to have the same worship of the one God.

Press Conference with French President Jacques Chirac
Paris, France
July 3, 1995


With regard to the Holy Shrines, we must avoid conflicts and differences of opinion in explaining the positions of the concerned parties, for as Almighty God deemed, these Shrines have the affection of the faithful from all three monotheistic religions, and thus the import of spiritual coexistence. The faithful are grateful to the Almighty for the blessings of peace which they have been denied for so long, as a result of a failure to recognize the mutual significance of these Shrines. For the Almighty willed the faithful to meet, respect one another and compete for His piety.

Address to the Seventh Organization of the Islamic Conference Summit
Casablanca, Morocco
December 14, 1994


My religious faith demands that sovereignty over the holy places in Jerusalem reside with God and God alone. Dialogue between the faiths should be strengthened; religious sovereignty should be accorded to all believers of the three Abrahamic faiths, in accordance with their religions. In this way, Jerusalem will become the symbol of peace and its embodiment, as it must be for both Palestinians and Israelis when their negotiations determine the final status of Arab East Jerusalem.

Address To The Joint Session Of The U.S. Congress
Washington DC
July 26, 1994


Jerusalem should be the peaceful meeting place for all the Children of Abraham, Arabs and Jews alike. But there can be no sovereignty over Jerusalem's holy sites except by the Almighty. I've suggested that a learned group representing all schools within the Islamic world enter an interfaith dialogue with the Christian and Jewish worlds to seek a formula preserving rights and protecting the Holy Places for all three great monotheistic religions. But I've never suggested Jerusalem be divided. . . . To crown this hope of peace based on new democratic possibilities in the Arab world, I as a Muslim, a Hashemite, an Arab and as a person who seeks to satisfy my conscience, have called for talks to achieve an accord on the Holy Places in Jerusalem which removes all sovereign claims except for those of Almighty God.

Interview with New Perspectives Quarterly
October 31, 1993


Turning to Jerusalem, we hope that it would be transformed into a meeting point and a symbol of Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli peace, of peace among the Children of Abraham.

Address to the Nation
October 12, 1993


We call herein for an Arab-Muslim dialogue, for God has honored the Arabs with carrying the message of faith and his holy book revealed to the faithful Arab Prophet (God's blessings and peace be upon him) and promulgated to the world in a correct Arab tongue. At the same time, we call for a responsible and constructive Muslim dialogue with our Christian brethren, aimed at unifying their ranks as well, in the spirit of the relationship between Muslims and Christians prevailing since the Prophet's Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab entered Jerusalem. This would then be followed by a comprehensive dialogue among the adherents of the three monotheistic religions. Should a formula emerge that would preserve rights and protect the Holy Places, we would then look into it. At the same time, we shall reserve the right to support any formula convincing to us, provided it be acceptable to the nation. Let Jerusalem then be a symbol for peace, a diadem of faith and a place of prayer for believers in God all over the world.

Address to the Nation
October 12, 1993


In insisting on dealing with the question of the Holy Places at the highest level of responsibility, we are calling and striving for a condition of dialogue among the adherents of the divine faiths, preceded by a dialogue among the Muslim sects, which would unify their positions and lead to brotherly relations among the faithful as decreed by God when He made Jerusalem the object of their reverence. This would be assumed under conditions in which we all respect one another, and which would preserve the rights of all the faithful in all that specifically pertains to them. As for custody over Jerusalem, this can only be the prerogative of Almighty God. Nor is there in any of this any diminution of the rights of the Palestinians to Jerusalem. On the contrary, it will bolster the peace of believers in God and will serve to guarantee a continuation of this peace.

Address to the Nation
November 5, 1992


What we must achieve is a comprehensive, honorable, just and lasting peace and regional reconciliation. Peace that would bring together the Children of Abraham to live as they did through the greater part of their common history, that Jerusalem may finally come to represent the essence of peace between the followers of the three great monotheistic religions—to whom Jerusalem equally belongs and in whose hearts and souls it occupies an unequaled position.

Address to the European Parliament
September 11, 1991


Much has been said about the Holy City of Jerusalem representing an insurmountable obstacle to peace. I say to you that Jerusalem is rather the key to peace, the gate through which the warm rays of peace will engulf all the people of the entire region. Home of the monotheistic religions, Jerusalem can be no other than a unifying force for the noblest of human aspirations—the desire for lasting peace.

Address to the Fortieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York
September 27, 1985


I do believe very firmly that a solution cannot be found and cannot be lasting unless the Arab part of the city of Jerusalem is returned to Arab sovereignty, obviously in a context of peace. Jerusalem must be the City of Peace and the meeting place for all, but without the predominance of one side over the entire city.

Interview with Canadian Television
April 12, 1976