Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday condemned Israel amid clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
Abdullah slammed Israel for allowing Jewish pilgrims to enter the site and called upon it to respect “the historical and legal status quo” there, according to a statement from the Royal Hashemite Court.
“His Majesty King Abdullah II directs the government to continue regional and international efforts to stop Israeli escalation and lobby for an international position that exerts pressure on Israel,” the statement said.
Police entered the Temple Mount complex on Sunday morning, as hundreds of Palestinians allegedly sought to block Jewish visitors from visiting the holy site in the Old City, just two days after a previous round of clashes there.
Also Sunday morning, Palestinian rock-throwers attacked several Egged buses just outside the Old City en route to the Western Wall, smashing windows and leaving several passengers lightly wounded, including a 13-year-old girl. Ten buses were reportedly attacked, over a two-hour period.
According to police, hundreds of Palestinian youths — many of them masked — stockpiled rocks in the Al-Aqsa compound that they planned to use along with iron bars and makeshift barricades to riot and try to prevent non-Muslims from touring the compound.
According to the Red Crescent, 17 Palestinians were treated for injuries sustained in clashes with police at the site Sunday morning, five of whom were taken to the hospital. Police said that nine Palestinians were arrested.
Police said officers worked to distance the Palestinians to allow the Temple Mount visits to go ahead, and Jewish visitors were later seen touring the site.
Jordan has long maintained that its treaties with Israel grant it custodianship over Jerusalem’s Christian and Muslim holy sites; while Israel has never accepted this claim, it grants day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount to the Jordan-funded Waqf.
Many Jews head to the Western Wall and the Old City during the week of Passover, which began Friday night. Non-Muslims can only visit the Temple Mount during certain hours and are barred from praying at the site, which is considered the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday said that Israeli forces have “free rein” to continue operations to maintain security, while stressing that officials were working to restore calm.
Following a situational assessment with defense officials and ministers, Bennett said that an effort should be made to allow members of all religions to celebrate their holidays in Jerusalem, while at the same time “continuing to deal with rioters who violate public order.”
Ahead of the statement from Abdullah’s court, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Israel’s measures to change the status quo on the Mount are a dangerous escalation. Israel bears full responsibility for the consequences of the current escalation that is thwarting efforts invested to bring about calm.”
“The Israel Police has no right to organize visits by non-Muslims there. Only the Muslim Waqf does,” the ministry added.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the US to intervene in the matter.
“The [US] administration must break its silence in the face of this aggression that threatens to burn the region,” a statement from his office read. “The international community must intervene immediately to provide protection for the Palestinian people.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Abbas on Sunday and condemned Israel’s “intervention against worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque” and its “provocations.”
The Turkish leader added in a tweet that his country “will always stay by the Palestinians’ side.”
Once robust regional allies, Israel and Turkey have seen their ties fray during Erdogan’s tenure, as the Turkish president has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.
Israel has been upset by Erdogan’s warm relations with Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip.
The countries reciprocally withdrew their ambassadors in 2010, after Israeli forces were attacked when they boarded a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, and killed 10 Turkish citizens in the ensuing melee.
Relations slowly improved, but broke down again in 2018, after Turkey, angered by the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem, once more recalled its envoy from Israel, prompting Israel to reciprocate.
In the latest sign of attempts to restore ties, President Isaac Herzog visited Turkey last month for a landmark 24-hour visit.