Jordan reprimands Israeli ambassador over Temple Mount ‘violations’
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Jordan reprimands Israeli ambassador over Temple Mount ‘violations’

Kingdom rejects public security minister’s support for changing status quo at holy site, which it says ‘is a place for Muslims to pray and worship only’

Israeli security forces clash with Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Israeli security forces clash with Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Israel’s ambassador to Jordan was summoned on Sunday by the Jordanian foreign ministry for a dressing down amid tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In a statement, Jordan’s foreign ministry said it stressed to Amir Weissbrod 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.

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.

Sufian Qudah, the ministry spokesman, said Weissbrod was told to inform the Israeli government that Jordan rejects any efforts to change the status quo at the Temple Mount.

Muslim worshipers perform the Eid al-Adha morning prayers at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The spokesman also said Jordan strongly rejected comments by Public Security Ministry Gilad Erdan that Israel should work to change the arrangements in place at the flashpoint site in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“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.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Weissbrod held talks at the Jordanian ministry, without giving further details.

Shortly before the statement was issued, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said he met with ambassadors from European Union states to stress the need for international measures to stop “Israel’s violations” of holy sites in Jerusalem.

Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod (Courtesy MFA)

“These violations & others seeking to change status quo in Holy Sites violate Int’l law, deepen tensions,” he wrote on Twitter.

Neither Safadi nor the foreign ministry spokesman specified what the alleged Israeli violations were, but the statement said Jordan rejected any closure of the Temple Mount’s gates to worshipers.

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.

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

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 31, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I think there is in 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 opposes introducing such a change unilaterally.

“This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force,” Erdan said.

In a statement carried by the official Petra news agency, a spokesman for Jordan’s foreign ministry said the country rejected Erdan’s comments and warned that any change to the status quo at the Temple Mount could have serious consequences.

The spokesman said Jordan sent a letter of protest over the public security minister’s remarks through diplomatic channels.

Responding to the Jordanian statement, Foreign Minister Israel Katz defended Erdan and said Israel was the sovereign over the holy site, though he noted Jordan’s role as the Islamic custodian there.

Israeli security forces clash with Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

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.

Jordan’s condemnation of Erdan’s remarks came after it slammed Israel for using force against Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount after clashes erupted there.

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

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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