Jordan lawmakers call to ‘review’ peace with Israel over Temple Mount violence

In nonbinding ‘recommendations,’ MPs also urge ‘expelling the ambassador of the Zionist entity’ and recalling Jordan’s envoy to the Jewish state

Israeli security forces walk past the Dome of the Rock shrine, as they arrive at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, after clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and Tisha B'Av. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Israeli security forces walk past the Dome of the Rock shrine, as they arrive at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, after clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and Tisha B'Av. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Jordanian lawmakers on Monday urged their government to kick Israel’s ambassador out of the kingdom and “review” the 1994 peace treaty with the Jewish state.

The MPs’ call came during an “emergency” meeting of the country’s House of Representatives in Amman on Monday to discuss the “recent violations, including the storming by the Israeli occupation forces and settlers, of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque/Noble Sanctuary,” the state-funded Al-Mamlaka TV reported.

The call is non-binding, but may reflect the broader mood in Amman coming just a day after Jordanian diplomatic officials dressed down Israel’s envoy Amir Weissbrod over the recent violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In a statement, Jordan’s foreign ministry said Sunday that it had stressed to the Israeli envoy its “condemnation and rejection of the Israeli violations” at the holy site, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews and is under Jordanian custodianship.

The compound was the site of clashes between Muslim worshipers and police last week over the entry of Jews during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which this year coincided with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av, mourning the destruction of the two Jewish Temples at the site.

An estimated 260,000 Muslim worshipers attend prayers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, on May 31, 2019. (Flash90)

At the time, Amman called for an immediate end of “these provocative and absurd violations,” which it said were “inflaming the conflict” and were a violation of international law.

Monday’s vote is not the first time that Jordanian lawmakers have called to review the peace treaty with Israel, but such calls are largely symbolic. Jordan’s parliament, which is seen as more reactionary and hardline than the monarchy, carries little weight in the country. Policymaking, especially on foreign affairs and defense issues, is tightly controlled by the government and royal court.

At the meeting, MP Yahya Al-Saud put forward 17 recommendations drawn up by the parliamentary Palestine Committee, which he chairs. The text of the recommendations referred to Israel as “the Zionist entity” and warned against “allowing Jewish settlers to carry out Talmudic prayer” at the Temple Mount.

The recommendations included “expelling the ambassador of the Zionist entity in Amman”; the recall of Jordan’s ambassador to Israel; a “review” of the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries; an affirmation that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is 144 dunams in size — that is, that it constitutes the entirety of the Temple Mount area and not just the mosque building, and therefore that no non-Muslims are permitted anywhere on the mount; backing continued custodianship of the holy site by Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy; and rejecting an alleged plot by Israel to divide the Temple Mount into Muslim-only and Jewish-only sections and prayer times.

Israeli policy at the site has long been to uphold the Jordanian stewardship there, and to allow only Muslim worship on the Mount, though Jews and others may visit.

House of Representatives Speaker Atef Tarawneh called an informal voice vote to accept the committee’s recommendations, after which many MPs were heard on video footage shouting their agreement.

Members of Jordan’s parliament rise to honor a Palestinian terrorist, March 24, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Saud, head of the Palestine Committee, is a vociferous anti-Israel lawmaker who once challenged former Likud MK Oren Hazan, ousted from Israel’s parliament in the last election after a series of scandals, to a fist-fight at the border.

In an interview with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad after the meeting, Saud said MPs had also agreed to hold a sit-in at the Allenby Bridge, which straddles the border between Jordan and the West Bank, this coming Friday. The protest would be for MPs only, he said.

As part of an arrangement in place since the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan, non-Muslims are barred from praying at the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.

Under the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries, Israel recognizes Jordan as the custodian of the Temple Mount and Jerusalem holy sites.

Screen capture from video of Atef Tarawneh, the speaker of the Lower House of the Jordanian parliament. (YouTube)

Days after the clashes, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, whose ministry oversees police responsible for security at the Temple Mount, voiced support for changing the existing arrangements there.

“I think there is an injustice in the status quo that has existed since ’67,” he told Israel’s Radio 90. “We need to work to change it so in the future Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”

He clarified that he opposed introducing such a change unilaterally. “This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force,” Erdan said.

Talk or even rumors of changes to the status quo arrangement at the holy site are typically met with vociferous protest from the Muslim world, which has accused Israel of attempting to “judaize” the site or expand access for Jewish pilgrims.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as the Palestinians, condemned Israel over the clashes.

Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod (Courtesy MFA)

A spokesman for Jordan’s foreign ministry said Sunday the meeting with Weissbrod was in part intended to express Amman’s rejection of Erdan’s comments.

“In the meeting, it was also affirmed that the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Noble Sanctuary… is a place for Muslims to pray and worship only,” the statement said, using the Islamic name for the Temple Mount.

According to Erdan, 1,729 Jews entered the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, a record high for a single day.

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