Jordan mulling ‘diplomatic and legal’ measures against Israel
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Jordan mulling ‘diplomatic and legal’ measures against Israel

Senate speaker Taher Al-Masri accuses Israel of striving to replace Al-Aqsa Mosque with Jewish temple

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Jordan has hardened its rhetoric regarding Israel, with a government spokesman threatening the Jewish state with “political, diplomatic and legal” measures in response to Israeli security restrictions on the Temple Mount ahead of Jerusalem Day last week.

Jordan’s government spokesman and communications minister Mohammed Al-Momani said Tuesday that Israeli ambassador Daniel Nevo left for Israel last week after being summoned by Jordan’s foreign ministry, which handed him a harshly worded letter for the Israeli government.

“He has not returned to Amman since that meeting,” reported independent Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm.

Jordan’s lower house of parliament unanimously voted to banish the ambassador on May 8 after Israel banned Muslim worshipers under the age of 50 from the Temple Mount and summoned Jerusalem Mufti Mohammed Hussein over his involvement in disturbances near the Al-Aqsa mosque that day. The vote had symbolic but little practical importance.

While acknowledging a palpable worsening in diplomatic relations with Jordan, an Israeli diplomatic source denied in a phone conversation Thursday with The Times of Israel that ambassador Nevo was given a reprimand by the Jordanian government, and said Nevo was back in Israel only to mourn the passing of his father.

“There is a raising of the tone lately,” the Israeli diplomat said. “We don’t know to what extent this is about us, or about internal Jordanian politics.”

“Our relationship with Jordan is very important to us,” the diplomat added.

Last month, 110 Jordanian parliament members signed a petition calling for the release of Ahmad Daqamseh, a Jordanian soldier who gunned down a group of Israeli schoolgirls on a field trip to the “Isle of Peace” border area of Naharayim in 1997, killing seven. A Jordanian MP, Muhammad Asha Dawaimeh, was sacked from his party after attending Israeli Independence Day celebrations at the residence of President Shimon Peres.

Meanwhile, the speaker of Jordan’s Senate, Taher Al-Masry, complained to independent Jordanian daily Al-Ghad on Thursday that the Arab and Islamic response to “Israel’s premeditated aggression” against the Temple Mount was insufficient to repel “the goals of this aggression.”

“The plan of Israel and the Jewish religious institutions to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and build the temple in its place is well-known,” Masry told Al-Ghad. “Their plan in this regard is long-term, in preparation for that day. The recent aggression is a preliminary step in implementing that plan.”

Al-Masry added that Israel was also trying to undermine a recent agreement signed between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, granting Jordan patronage over the Christian and Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

“This agreement is a thorn in the flesh of the Israelis, challenging their entire policy of Judaizing Jerusalem,” he said.

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