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Envoy barred from Holy Site, Jordan protests to Israel

By 01/17/2023 6:51 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

Tuesday, Jordan summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest Israeli police actions that prevented the Jordanian representative from attending a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem.

The event swiftly increased hostilities between the neighbors and demonstrated the new ultranationalist government of Israel’s increased sensitivity surrounding the holy site.

The third-holiest place in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, was reportedly closed to Jordan’s ambassador to Israel,

Ghassan Majali, according to the foreign ministry of Jordan.

The location, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is treasured by both faiths.

It is located on a vast plateau and is also home to the renowned golden Dome of the Rock.

Following Israel’s victory over Jordan in the 1967 Middle East conflict, Jordanian religious officials manage the holy complex.

Israel is responsible for maintaining order there.

Majali reportedly arrived at the holy site “without any prior communication with police officials,” which led a security guard at the complex entrance who didn’t recognize the ambassador to inform his commander about the unannounced visit, according to the Israeli police.

Officers detained Majali and Azzam al-Khatib, the head of the Jordanian Waqf, as they awaited orders.

According to Israeli authorities, the ambassador declined to wait and decided to go.

Majali can be seen in a video that has been widely posted online, praying among other Muslims at the Lion’s Gate entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in the Old City.

The footage shows an Israeli policeman blocking his way and ordering Majali to turn around in Arabic. The visitors argue with the officers as Al-Khatib answers the phone over the crackle of the policeman’s walkie-talkie.

The police stressed that “coordination” with Israeli police was customary before such visits, adding that the group would have entered “had the ambassador briefly waited a few more minutes for the officer to be updated.”

Jordan, though, deemed the action to be an uncommon provocation.

The Israeli ambassador was sent a “strongly worded letter of protest to be conveyed immediately to his government,” according to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.

The letter emphasized Jordan’s status as the site’s official custodian and forbade Israel from taking “any actions that would prejudice the sanctity of the holy places.”

Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing and religiously conservative cabinet took office, Jordan has summoned Israel’s ambassador to Amman twice.

The ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s minister of national security, visited the holy site in Jerusalem earlier this month amid threats from the militant group Hamas and a wave of criticism from the Arab world.

Jordan, along with the Palestinians and many Muslims, sees Israeli excursions to the compound as an effort to change the shrine’s status and grant Jewish worshipers more rights there.

Ben-Gvir and other far-right ministers have promised to put Israel’s relationships with Arab nations to the test, notably Jordan and Egypt, who have maintained decades-long peace treaties with Israel and take a firm line against the Palestinians.

One of the most contentious locations in the region, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, might experience the slightest modification and spark a significant new crisis between Israel and the Muslim world.

Israeli operations there in the past have sparked violent demonstrations and worse clashes.

 

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