Egypt pans 'incursions by Jewish settlers' onto Temple Mount

Bennett speaks with Jordan’s king, amid concerns of Ramadan violence

PM thanks Abdullah for condemning recent attacks in Israel; Amman says Jordanian monarch urged prevention of ‘any tension or escalation in the Palestinian territories’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Jordan's King Abdullah. (Composite/AP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Jordan's King Abdullah. (Composite/AP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke on the phone with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday, with the two leaders discussing the importance of lowering tensions between Israelis and Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan.

It was the first phone call since Abdullah covertly hosted Bennett in Amman last July.

During the call, the king emphasized “the importance of achieving calm in order to avoid any escalation in the Palestinian territories,” a statement from the royal court said.

Abdullah called for “removing all obstacles to Muslim prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, particularly with the start of the holy month of Ramadan, and to prevent provocations that could lead to an escalation.”

A total of 11 people have been killed in attacks in Israel since March 22, including some carried out by assailants linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group.

Ramadan began on Saturday night and featured minor clashes between Palestinians and police at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Bennett’s office said in a statement that the premier “thanked the King of Jordan for his firm statement against the terrorist attacks that have taken place in Israel in recent days,” referring to the condemnation Abdullah issued during last week’s visit by President Isaac Herzog.

President Isaac Herzog (L) and Jordanian King Abdullah II at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, March 30, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The pair also discussed “the importance of cooperation between the countries and the continuation of the ongoing relationship and dialogue,” according to the PMO.

Last year, during Ramadan, clashes that flared between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Islamist terrorist rulers Hamas.

On Wednesday, King Abdullah II hosted Herzog in Amman and condemned “violence in all its forms.”

The visit came a day after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met the king in Amman. The king called on Israel to “lift all obstacles that could prevent (Muslims) from performing prayers” at Al-Aqsa.

Abdullah also paid a rare visit to Ramallah in the West Bank last Monday to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a further effort to seek calm.

Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 and the Hashemite kingdom serves as custodian of holy places in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognized by most of the international community.

Also on Sunday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a condemnation of “the Israeli escalation in the Palestinian territories in recent days,” especially recent visits by Jews to the Temple Mount site.

The Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site. Muslims revere the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the same spot, as the third-holiest site in their tradition. A fragile status quo prevails on the flashpoint hilltop, as a part of which Jews are allowed to visit but not to worship.

Israeli authorities have continued to allow Jewish visitors to spend time at the site during the Ramadan holy month, which began on Saturday. Far-right Jewish Israeli MK Itamar Ben Gvir visited the site on Thursday, angering Palestinians.

Cairo condemned in a statement the “continued incursions by Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa Mosque area under the protection of the Israeli police.”

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry added that “escalation must be avoided — especially during the holy month of Ramadan and Christian and Jewish holidays — so as to not slipping into cycles of violence.”

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report

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