In a further signal of Jordanian anger with Israel over the friction at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, King Abdullah II reportedly cancelled Jordanian participation in a ceremony that had been scheduled for this week to mark 20 years of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.
Jordan has already recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv, and officials have warned it may reassess the peace treaty, amid violence and tension surrounding the status of the mount, holy to Jews and Muslims.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abdullah spoke by telephone this week, and agreed on the imperative to calm tensions. Netanyahu also assured the king of Jordan, who is responsible for the Waqf Muslim trust that administers the site, that he has no intention of changing the status quo there to allow Jewish prayer, as some right-wing Jewish extremists are demanding.
Nonetheless, in a further sign of Jordanian displeasure, Abdullah ordered two of his ministers and some 40 other Jordanian officials not to attend the 20th anniversary ceremony scheduled to be held in the Jordan Valley area between the two countries, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported Friday night. This move forced the official postponement of the ceremony, which may well be cancelled altogether, the TV report said.
The “modest” ceremony was also to have been attended by Israel’s Minister for Regional Development, Silvan Shalom.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to preserve the status quo on the Temple Mount as well as Jordan’s special status at the site,” a statement from the premier’s office said after the two leaders spoke on Thursday.
Both leaders “called for an immediate end to the violence and incitement,” the statement added.
Ahead of a meeting with Indian Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he had spoken with the Jordanian leader “and we agreed that we’ll do every effort to calm the situation.”
“We have to make every effort to restore calm, quiet and security. But I think we have to make that effort throughout the world,” he added.
On Wednesday, Jordan told the UN Security Council that it was ready to take measures to stop Israeli actions on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem after Israeli police clashes with Palestinians there on Wednesday morning.
“Jordan considers such serious and outrageous actions by Israel an unprecedented escalation,” said Ambassador Dina Kawar in a letter to the president of the Security Council.
Noting that Jordan had recalled its ambassador from Israel, the UN envoy added that “this is without prejudice to any further lawful steps and measures that Jordan will be taking to stop Israeli attacks against the Haram Al-Sharif” — the Temple Mount compound.
Earlier Wednesday, Jordan warned it will reevaluate its diplomatic ties with Israel, including its 20-year peace accord, in light of what it termed Israeli “violations” on the Temple Mount.
Government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani told Al-Jazeera that “all legal and diplomatic options are open in order to respond to the Israeli violations of the al-Aqsa mosque.”
The Hashemite Kingdom recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and moved to file a UN complaint after police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the holy site Wednesday morning.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Israel’s recent actions at the compound were “way beyond the limits.”
“These violations are infuriating the emotions and the sensitivity of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world,” he said Wednesday.
“Calm has to be restored. Israel has to respect the sanctity of the holy sites.”
The recall reportedly came after reports surfaced that Israeli police had entered the al-Aqsa Mosque on the compound and clashed with protesters inside the building.
The Waqf overseeing the Temple Mount claimed that Israeli police went deep into the mosque during its crackdown, all the way to the preacher’s pulpit — the furthest Israeli security forces have ventured since the 1967 Six Day War, Channel 2 reported. Israel said that its forces only went a few meters inside, where they saw a stash of stones, bottles, and Molotov cocktails that the demonstrators had prepared.
The Waqf is the Jordanian organization that administers the Temple Mount compound, which is the holiest location for Jews and contains Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jordan has responsibility for managing the mosque compound and other holy sites in the eastern part of the city. Its status as custodian is enshrined in its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
AFP contributed to this report.