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By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
Topic - Abdullah Ii
Today Pope Francis began his pilgrimage to the Holy Land by visiting with the authorities in the kingdom of Jordan, urging them to support efforts for peace amongst Christians and Muslims.
Pope Francis called on Saturday for an "urgent" end to the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis it has spawned as he opened a three-day trip to the Middle East.
Islamists and other government critics won about a quarter of the seats in Jordan's newly empowered parliament, according to initial results released Thursday, a surprisingly strong showing despite a boycott by the country's most powerful opposition group.
Jordan's King Abdullah II is touting Wednesday's parliamentary elections as the centerpiece of political reforms aimed at addressing the simmering discontent in his realm.
Jordan, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, was rocked Wednesday by a second day of protests that uncharacteristically targeted the king after the government raised fuel prices in a desperate act to reduce a massive budget deficit.
For Jordan's King Abdullah II, preventing the Arab world's wave of uprisings from washing into his country has been an exercise in careful calibration — easing his absolute grip on power just enough to defuse protests.
King Abdullah II unveiled a new power-sharing system for selecting future Cabinet ministers, saying Wednesday he will consult with parliament on the formation of government.
Jordanians are concerned that their kingdom is becoming more polarized, following bloody protests late last month that left one man dead and 120 people injured.
A secret U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks indicates that in 2009 the U.S. ambassador to Jordan had little faith in King Abdullah II's promises to initiate reforms in his country.
"Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world," he said in an opening speech to Abdullah and Jordan's religious and political leaders.
Although Christians are a minority, he acknowledged, they contribute "to the common good of the society of which they are a part."