Jordanian King Abdullah II warned Israel Thursday against any move to change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound, while reiterating calls for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The king, whose country operates the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf which has custodial rights over the Temple Mount, made his remarks in a statement after a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Ban has already met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to get the two leaders to rein in violence that has killed dozens of people in recent weeks.
Spurred by allegations that Israel is seeking to change the rules governing the site, angry Palestinians clashed with Israel police over several days in September, sparking the latest wave of violence. Jordan has previously denounced alleged Israeli actions at the compound which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, saying they amount to “aggression” against Arab and Muslim nations.
The king warned against “any attempt to change the status quo,” which Netanyahu has repeatedly promised to preserve. Israel has denied that it intends to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, asserting that such accusations amount to “incitement.”
The Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, is revered as the location of both the ancient Jewish temples. It is also the third-holiest site in Islam, known as the Noble Sanctuary.
He added that “achievement of a just and comprehensive peace, on the basis of a two-state solution, is the only way out of the crisis in the region.”
For his part, according to a statement from the royal palace, Ban stressed what he said was the “responsibility of the international community… to achieve a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Netanyahu in Germany Thursday in an effort to coax an end to the violence, is expected to travel on to Jordan for a meeting with the king and Abbas.
The recent wave of Palestinian violence has seen 10 Israelis killed in the past month and a half, along with more than 40 Palestinians — almost half of them killed in the act of attacking Israelis. Many of the others were killed in clashes in the West Bank and at the Gaza border.
Until 2000, the entry of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount was coordinated with the Waqf. The area was then closed to Jews for three years until 2003 as the Second Intifada raged. Since it was reopened to Jewish visitors, the Israel Police has overseen the visits by Jewish groups. Under Israel’s regulations, imposed after the Old City was captured in the 1967 war, Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray on the Temple Mount.