Jordan: Jewish prayer at Temple Mount entrance violates status quo

Amman files complaint with Foreign Ministry after court refuses to punish teens for prostrating themselves outside the Jerusalem holy site

Jews visit the Temple Mount compound, site of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem Old City, during the holiday of Sukkot, October 8, 2017 (Flash90/Yaakov Lederman)
Jews visit the Temple Mount compound, site of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem Old City, during the holiday of Sukkot, October 8, 2017 (Flash90/Yaakov Lederman)

The Jordanian government has filed an official complaint to the Foreign Ministry over a recent court ruling allowing Jews to pray outside the gated entrance to the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, Channel 10 reported Tuesday.

“Israel is violating the status quo in the area and is carrying out extreme provocations that harm relations between our two countries,” the complaint said, referring to the longstanding arrangement between Jerusalem and Amman that allows Jews to visit the Temple Mount but not pray there.

The grievance was submitted after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last month rejected a police request to temporarily ban three 14-year-old Jewish girls from the holy site after they were arrested for bowing down in prayer outside the gated entrance.

“In a democratic state, we do not distance and certainly do not arrest citizens who want to pray in a place where one is allowed to pray,” the court said in its ruling.

Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir arrives for a court hearing in what came to be known as the “Hate Wedding” at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on February 27, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Itamar Ben Gvir, the attorney who represented the Israeli teens, slammed Jordanian complaint as “first degree chutzpah.”

“I expect the prime minister to summon the Jordanian ambassador for a reprimand and explain to him that it is the right of Israeli citizens to pray everywhere in Jerusalem,” he said in a statement.

In October, Jordan condemned the influx of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount over the week-long festival of Sukkot, describing it as “the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by settlers and Jewish extremists,” and slamming “irresponsible” Israel for permitting them entry to the compound.

The Temple Mount houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, and is considered Islam’s third holiest site. It is the holy place in Judaism, revered by Jews as the location of the biblical Jewish temples.

Under the present arrangement instituted by Israel after it captured Jerusalem’s Old City in the 1967 war, the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, remains under Jordan’s religious custodianship. Jews are allowed to visit the compound under the existing arrangements but are barred from religious worship or prayer.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace accord in 1994, but relations have long been cold.

Last July, the holy site became the focus of a major crisis between Israeli authorities, Palestinians, and Jordan over security measures taken at the entrances to the compound. Metal detectors and cameras were installed following a deadly attack in which three Arab Israelis emerged from the site and shot dead two Israeli police officers using weapons that had been smuggled onto the Temple Mount. The upgraded security measures were all ultimately removed.

Last week, Channel 10 reported that Jordan approved Amir Weissbrod as Israel’s new ambassador.

The authorization came after the two countries agreed to end a diplomatic standoff following the shooting deaths of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard who Israel said opened fire in self-defense after one of the men tried to stab him.

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