Jordan files complaint with Israel over Jewish prayer at Temple Mount gates
AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)
The Jordanian government has reportedly filed an official complaint with Israel’s Foreign Ministry over a recent court ruling permitting Jews to congregate for prayer just outside the gated entrance to the flashpoint Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem.
According to a Channel 10 television report on Tuesday, Jordan -- the official custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites -- accused Israel of violating the longstanding status-quo at the site, in which Jews are allowed to visit but not pray at the Temple Mount.
“Israel is violating the status quo in the area and is carrying out extreme provocations that harm relations between our two countries,” Jordan said in its complaint.
The hilltop compound is known as the Temple Mount to Jews and as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims. It includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.
Jordan filed the complaint after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last month struck down a police request to temporarily bar three Jewish teenagers from the site after they were arrested for bowing down in prayer outside the gated entrance.
“In a democratic state, we do not distance and certainly do not arrest citizens who want to pray in a place where one is allowed to pray,” the court said in its ruling.
An attorney for the teens Itamar Ben Gvir called Amman’s grievance “first degree chutzpah” and demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau summon the Jordanian ambassador for reprimand to “explain to him that it is the right of Israeli citizens to pray everywhere in Jerusalem.”
According to a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, Jordan maintains guardianship over Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Old City, including the Temple Mount, and has repeatedly condemned Israel’s policies towards the site.
In October, Amman decried the influx of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount over the Sukkot holiday as “the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by settlers and Jewish extremists,” and calling Israel’s permitting them entry to the site “irresponsible.”
Jordan has also fervently opposed Israeli attempts to boost security at the incendiary site, which has been a flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the past.
Jordan has quashed past proposals to install cameras there and place metal detectors and other security measures at the entrance of the compound to prevent weapons from being brought inside.
Palestinians believe that Israel intends to change the status-quo at the site while many Israelis voice frustration over what they see as restrictions on Jewish prayer at the complex.
Israel has vowed repeatedly to maintain the status quo, which allows Muslim prayer there but forbids Jewish prayer and religious rituals.
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