The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is intensifying its pressure on Israel to return to the “historic status quo” of the Temple Mount. On Tuesday, a document filled with sweeping demands written by the Waqf director in Jordan was submitted to the U.S. for review. The nine-page document calls for the transfer of responsibility for the Temple Mount, including all security measures, to the Waqf. If accepted, this requirement would prevent Israeli police from ascending the Temple Mount even in the event of a violent riot and would allow more Waqf-appointed unarmed guards in the area.
Additionally, the Waqf is insisting that it should manage all visits by non-Muslim worshippers. Jordan has accused Israel of violating the status quo at the Mount by restricting access Muslims have to the site and allowing Jews to pray. Last week, Jordan’s Foreign Minister pronounced that “Our (the Waqf) demands are clear that Al-Aqsa and Haram al-Sharif in all its area is a sole place of worship for Muslims.” Despite these accusations, Israel banned non-Muslims from visiting the Mount until the end of Ramadan and have insisted no shift in policy regarding the prevention of Jewish prayer at the site exists.
Although the new document written by the Waqf represents an escalation in Jordan’s demands for Israel, the Kingdom has been crossing red lines and intensifying its rhetoric against its neighbor for months. Last week, heightened tensions over holy sites in Jerusalem and a wave of terror attacks that killed 14 Israelis led to the largest exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas since the 2021 11-day war. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded to rocket attacks launched from Gaza by targeting a tunnel complex.
Following the exchange of fire, the Hamas terror group encouraged Palestinians to “mobilize” for Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In response, hundreds gathered to riot outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, hurling fireworks and rocks at Israeli police officers. Once the prayers ended, the officers responded with riot dispersal tactics.
Instead of condemning violence at the holy sites in Jerusalem, Jordan officials opted to glorify the rioters. In a speech to the Jordanian parliament, the country’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh praised “every Palestinian and Jordanian Islamic Wakf (religious trust) worker who stands tall like a turret and those who throw rocks at the pro-Zionists who are defiling al-Aksa Mosque while under the security of the Israeli occupation government.” Jordan’s King Abdullah blamed Israel’s “unilateral” actions “and provocative acts” against Muslim worshippers for undermining peace.
While condoning the actions of rioters and violence against “pro-Zionists” is an escalation in rhetoric, the Waqf’s move to essentially wrest sovereignty of the Temple Mount from Israel and into Jordan represents a more alarming shift.
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