Jordan PM warns Israel over Temple Mount authority

Entire peace treaty could be put to review, says Abdullah Ensour, after parliament votes to expel Israeli envoy

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (photo credit: AP)
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (photo credit: AP)

AMMAN — Jordan warned Wednesday that it might review a 1994 peace treaty with Israel after Israeli MPs began a debate on allowing Jewish prayers at Jerusalem’s sensitive Temple Mount.

“If Israel wants to violate the peace treaty in this issue, the entire treaty, its articles, details and wording will be put on the table,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told Qatar’s Al-Watan newspaper in an interview.

Under the peace treaty, Jordan is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

Ensour’s remarks, quoted by state-run Petra news agency, came as Jordan’s parliament passed a motion urging the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to the kingdom, Daniel Nevo.

“Such Israeli attempts would lead to the destruction of the peace treaty as the international community is pushing for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” government spokesman Mohammad Momnai told Petra.

“The Jordanian custodianship is not a privilege granted by Israel. It is the Hashemites’ historic responsibility that is emphasised in the peace treaty.”

Last year, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed an agreement to confirm a verbal deal dating back to 1924 that gave the kingdom custodianship over Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.

The Jordanian parliament’s vote followed a motion the previous day signed by 47 MPs demanding that the peace treaty with Israel be scrapped.

“All deputies who attended a meeting today to discuss Israel’s debate on sovereignty over Al-Aqsa voted to kick out the Israeli envoy and recall the Jordanian ambassador in Israel (Walid Obeidat),” prominent lower house deputy Khalil Attieh told AFP.

The Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment on the Jordanian parliament’s vote.

The Knesset on Tuesday evening began a debate called by rightwingers to demand that Israel end its practice of forbidding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

In a motion which was not put to a vote, MP Moshe Feiglin, a hardline member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said Israel’s fear of igniting Muslim rage amounted to discrimination against Jews.

“Any terror organization can raise its flag there (but) there can be no trace of the Israeli flag,” Feiglin told the Knesset. “Only Jews are forbidden to pray at this place.”

Jews now pray at the Western Wall plaza below the compound.

Israeli police on Tuesday clashed with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters at the compound ahead of the Knesset debate.

The Temple Mount, which lies in East Jerusalem’s Old City, is a flashpoint because of its significance to both Muslims and Jews.

Sitting above the Western Wall plaza, it houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques and is Islam’s third-holiest site.

But it is also Judaism’s holiest place, being the site of the first and second Jewish temples.

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