Jordan has stepped up efforts to push Israel to respect a “historic” status quo at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem and avoid violent clashes between worshipers and security forces that could escalate into a wider conflict.
Last week, Jordan notified Washington that it was ready to discuss the matter with Israel after the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Amman’s goal would be to map out steps Israel should take to return conditions around the mosque to what they were supposed to be 22 years ago.
Jordan has accused Israel of gradually encroaching on the status quo around worship at the shrine since 2000.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the compound in recent weeks have stoked Arab anger and international concern over a reversal of last year’s 11-day war in Gaza.
Jordan, whose ruling Hashemite dynasty holds custody of Muslim and Christian sites on and around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, has claimed that since 2000 Israel has undermined a centuries-old tradition under which non-Muslims are banned from visiting. pray in the enclosure.
Amman told Washington that Israel should end restrictions on Jordanian Waqf personnel who administer the site and let it manage and monitor all non-Muslim visitors, sources said.
Israel denies the allegations and says it enforces a long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the compound.
Jordan claims that Israel restricts access to Muslim worshipers and fails to restrict far-right Israeli nationalists whose rituals violate the status quo ante and, from an Islamic perspective, desecrate the holy site.
In the document filed in Washington, Amman largely ignores a plethora of past violations on the Muslim side, such as holding violent political protests at the holy site, incitement and waving the flag.
Amman’s leap into the diplomatic fray aims to “deal with the root causes of the tension and make sure things don’t blow up again,” said a Jordanian official who asked to remain anonymous, adding that Washington had recently received a document which “clearly” stated the kingdom’s position.
Below is an outline of the conditions inferred from Jordan’s efforts to restore the status quo on the Temple Mount, and how Israel should respond to them.:
Jordan requires that Jewish visitors ascending the Temple Mount be closely supervised and permitted only in small groups. However, Israel should require that Jewish visitors be allowed to enter the site through all nine entrance gates, rather than just one.
Israel must demand that the Waqf be tasked with suppressing unrest at the holy site or allow the Israeli police to intervene if they fail to do so.
Israel should demand the construction of a high gate or the installation of a net that would prevent projectiles from being launched from the Temple Mount at the Western Wall. If this condition is met, the Israeli police will have no reason to enter the compound.
Israel must demand access to the el-Mahkama tower for riot control purposes.
Jordan and the Waqf must remove all rubbish, stones and building materials used by rioters to attack security forces during clashes.
Israel should demand that the Waqf allow tourists access to the pre-scheduled Dome of the Rock, Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel must demand monitoring of inflammatory sermons coming from the mosque’s overhead PA system and the ability to turn them off if necessary.
Finally, the two sides must agree on the installation of advanced surveillance cameras around the gates of the complex and the creation of a joint command room for the Israeli police and the Waqf.
In order to restore the status quo on the Temple Mount, Israel and Jordan must make reforms and try to come to an agreement. More importantly, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority must establish a cohesive forum for communication that will act in coordination amid tensions.
On Friday, Israel banned non-Muslims from visiting the site until the end of Ramadan. It is a “good step towards respecting the status quo, easing tensions and restoring calm”, said Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.