PA, Jordan to insist on Waqf control of Jewish visits to Temple Mount

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II are expected to make a joint demand that Israel return the status on the Temple Mount to the time before the infamous visit of the late prime minister Ariel Sharon in September 2000, when the Waqf was responsible for Jewish visitors’ access to the holy site.

Palestinian sources tell The Times of Israel that Abbas will tell US Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting in Amman tomorrow that he is interested in renewing peace talks with Israel and abiding by previous agreements, but that Jerusalem must first freeze all settlement activity and release the 26 Palestinian prisoners it had agreed to free last year as part of a US-brokered concession to Abbas.

Israel had agreed to release a total of 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in four rounds and went through with three of the four releases before talks collapsed in April 2014.

Senior Palestinian officials also told The Times of Israel that Israel had tried to create friction between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority by conveying messages to King Abdullah II, warning him that Abbas’s inciting statements endangered Jordanian interests on the Temple Mount.

Abbas is also expected to demand deeper American involvement in any renewed political process with Israel and warned that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued with his current policies, he was dooming the region to more violence and bloodshed.

When asked if they understood that meeting their demands would spell the end of the Netanyahu-led government, the sources said the Israeli PM must choose between his government and a willingness to make peace.

— Avi Issacharoff

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