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ByDebra J. Aguilar

Mar 29, 2022

RAMALLAH: King Abdullah II of Jordan has stepped up efforts to end Israeli measures against Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during Ramadan.

On Monday, he contacted Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, European Council President Charles Michel, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the talks, he stressed the need for Israel to end all actions in the mosque.

The king’s efforts came amid growing fears that Israel’s provocative behavior around the Al-Aqsa Mosque could undermine the chances of achieving peace.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Jordan had summoned the Israeli ambassador to inform him of Amman’s condemnation of the Israeli measures, and said on Monday it had summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires.

“We have summoned the Israeli ambassador, and we will summon the charge d’affaires to convey to him our strict and clear message in which we condemn Israeli actions,” the minister said.

He added that Jordan would host a meeting of the Arab League committee next Thursday to address “illegal Israeli measures” in Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Al-Safadi warned that if Israel did not stop “these illegal measures and their violations”, it would bear the responsibility for the increase in tensions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Haitham Abul Ful said the Israeli charge d’affaires had received a letter expressing Jordan’s rejection of “illegal and provocative” measures in Jerusalem and its attacks on worshipers in Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Abul Ful said Jordan also demanded that Israel respect freedom of worship and “immediately” cease its assaults and attempts to change the historical and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

“The Israeli actions are a serious escalation and a violation of international law and of Israel’s obligations as the occupying power,” the spokesperson said.

The decision to summon the Israeli ambassador comes as national groups in Jordan continue their solidarity with Al-Aqsa worshipers and their massive protests until the end of Ramadan.

Israel reacted with concern to Jordan’s summoning of its ambassador to Amman on Monday.

Palestinians make up a large percentage of the Jordanian population. Tens of thousands of people live in refugee camps on the outskirts of Amman and their demonstrations of solidarity with Al-Aqsa may pose a challenge to security and stability.

Although Egypt and Qatar mediated between Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel to prevent further security escalations, Palestinians still believe that only Jordanian pressure can stop further Israeli restrictions in Al-Aqsa during Ramadan .

Israel had asked King Abdullah to mediate with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before Ramadan so that there would be no tension in Jerusalem during the holy month.

King Abdullah traveled to Ramallah on March 28 to meet Abbas. They agreed to work to calm the situation on the eve of the start of Ramadan.

Before the meeting, he received Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Amman and in the same week Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israeli President Isaac Herzog to try to prevent the deterioration of the security situation during the month sacred.

Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, director of Islamic Awqaf in Jerusalem, a department affiliated with Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Amman that employs 800 people guarding Al-Aqsa, said in an interview with Arab News that Israeli policy towards Al-Aqsa is “very dangerous”.

He added: “Any Israeli violation will be met with protest and a firm stand by King Abdullah II, as the religious and legal position is that Al-Aqsa Mosque does not accept division or partnership and is the property of Muslims, and any prejudice that means a violation of the principles on which King Abdullah II was raised, on the importance of preserving Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem,” he told Arab News.

Palestinians fear that the Israeli authorities will divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews, as they did several years ago for the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

Israel meanwhile closed the Ibrahimi Mosque on Monday and Tuesday in front of Muslim worshipers, to allow Jewish worshipers to perform Passover prayers.

Last Friday, Palestinians angry at the actions of the Israeli police called on Jordan to intervene and questioned King Abdullah’s stance on protecting Al-Aqsa.

Several of them wrote messages on social networks. One said: “The Al-Aqsa Mosque does not need to be covered with carpets, but rather needs the protection of those who drive it to pray during Ramadan.”

The Hashemites have been guardians of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem for 100 years. Even after the 1967 war, during which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, Jordanian guardianship of Al-Aqsa remained in place. The position was cemented during the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty – better known as Wadi Araba – which was signed between the late King Hussein bin Talal and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“It is natural to summon the Israeli ambassador to Amman and protest to him, and it is important that the people of Israel know that there are far-right Jewish parties that try to offend them by waging a religious war against the Muslims in this country. country,” Al-Khattib said.

He added: “Any violation of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque concerns the whole world, especially King Abdullah.”

The said added: “We want peace to reign in this region. It does not undermine the sanctities of any side, and may the specter of religious war be removed from it.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry strongly criticized its Israeli counterpart and refuted Israel’s claim to support freedom of worship.

He said in a statement that Israel’s Foreign Ministry “continues to fabricate lies and misinformation about the occupation state’s interest in freedom of worship in occupied Jerusalem.”

He also noted that “hundreds of videos” had documented instances of worshipers being forced to leave Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as cases of “repression and abuse”.