Netanyahu: No change in Temple Mount status quo

Statement comes after Jordan warns peace treaty could be in danger if new policy emerges regarding Jewish prayers at holy site

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 27, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 27, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there are no plans to make changes in the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu made the statement on Monday during a meeting to discuss the security situation in Jerusalem. His assurances came a day after Jordan warned that its peace treaty with Israel — signed 20 years ago — could be threatened by continued settlement construction and by any change in the status quo on the mount, including allowing Jews to pray there.

Several hours after Netanyahu’s statement, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

The meeting and the visit came amid tension in Jerusalem that has increased in recent days due to an attack by a Palestinian driver on a Jerusalem Light Rail station and the killing by Israeli soldiers of a Palestinian teen with American citizenship accused of preparing to throw a firebomb into traffic.

Tension on the Temple Mount has increased in recent months, coming to a head during the Jewish High Holidays when more Jewish pilgrims visit the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Hamdallah visited the Temple Mount with the Palestinian Authority governor of Jerusalem, Adnan al-Husseini, and Palestinian security officials, according to reports. His visit was approved by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

During the security meeting, Netanyahu made a call for a draft legislation, levying severe punishment for rock-throwing, to be advanced as quickly as possible. The legislation would call for detention and stiffer punishments for rock-throwers, including criteria for the possible imposition of economic sanctions on the parents of minors who throw rocks.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, senior Israel Police officials, the deputy attorney general and military officials attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, also Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to the Obama administration calling on the US government to “stop Israeli escalation in east Jerusalem, especially raids by settlers and extremists into the Aqsa Mosque,” according to a statement released by his office in Ramallah, Israeli media reported.

Abbas threatened that the “dangerous escalation” would lead to “a wider explosion.”

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