Jordanian envoy leaves in protest after being briefly held up at entrance to Temple Mount

Jordanian and Palestinian media are reporting that Israeli police forces have turned down an attempt by Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, requiring him to obtain prior permission for the visit from Israeli authorities.

Majali leaves the area of the Old City’s Lion’s Gate after refusing to request such permission.

The Israel Police decries as “fake news” reports that Israel refused to allow Majali to visit the site, saying the ambassador had arrived without any prior coordination and that a cop hadn’t immediately recognized him, causing a “very small” delay while he asked his commander.

Majali then decided to leave, police say, adding that “had he waited a few more seconds he would have entered.”

The incident comes amid tensions over the flashpoint holy site, which is the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest to Muslims, who refer to it as the Al Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary. Far-right minister Itamar Ben Gvir briefly visited the site earlier this month, drawing fury from the Arab world.

The site is governed by an unwritten status quo that allows Muslims to visit relatively freely and pray, while others, including Jews, are allowed to visit under numerous restrictions but not to pray. Many Palestinians and Jordanians deny the site is holy to Jews and refuse to acknowledge Israeli control over it.

The 1994 peace deal with Jordan specified Jordan has a “special role” in Muslim holy site in Jerusalem. Amman views itself as the custodian of the Temple Mount.

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