AMMAN: Jordan’s Foreign Ministry has objected to the growing number of non-Muslims entering Al-Aqsa Mosque while under Israeli security protection.
In a strongly worded statement, ministry spokesperson Deifallah Al-Fayez on Thursday accused Israel of violating the historical and legal status quo of the mosque and ignoring its commitments “as the occupier of East Jerusalem.”
Al-Fayez said that Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa Mosque, comprising all 144 dunums, is a holy place solely for Muslims.
“The Jerusalem waqf and the department of Al-Aqsa affairs are part of the Jordanian government’s exclusive right to run and arrange all issues related to the holy site, including the regulation of entry to the site in accordance with international law and historic status quo,” Al-Fayez said.
Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed in 2014 that Al-Aqsa Mosque is for Muslims to pray and for all others to visit.
However, Israel has refused to recognize the Jordanian waqf’s responsibility and insists on forcibly entering the mosque using the Moghrabi gate, the only gate to the Muslim holy site that has no waqf guards. All other gates have a joint Israel police and waqf guards.
Waqf sources told Arab News that in the past week the number of Israeli radicals unilaterally entering the mosque has increased.
The Nov. 13, 2014 understanding reached in the presence of then US Secretary of State John Kerry included a provision that visitors in groups of no more than 15 could visit the mosque during non-prayer hours.
The understanding also stipulated that the visitors are not repeat visitors and should not include known radicals, many of whom are calling for the destruction of the mosque and its replacement with a Jewish temple.
The current increase in visitor numbers is due to the Jewish Passover holiday and a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in Israel.
In the letter of protest, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry called on the international community to pressure Israel to respect the historic status quo of Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.