JERUSALEM — Israel and Jordan are on a diplomatic collision course after Jordan’s prime minister advocated violence on the Temple Mount and after Jordan’s Foreign Ministry summoned an Israeli representative for a dressing-down following the Muslim violence on the Temple Mount.
Addressing the Lower House on Monday, April 18, Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh “saluted Palestinians and employees of the Jordan-administered Jerusalem Waqf who proudly stand like minarets, hurling their stones in a volley of clay at the Zionist sympathizers defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli occupation government.”
“We saw on Saturday the most dangerous manifestations in attempts at the temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which we confronted and will not allow it to happen,” he said.
He alleged that “ongoing Israeli attempts to alter the historical and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are a dangerous escalation and violation of the international law and a breach of Israel’s obligations as the occupying power.”
Muslims have rioted on the Temple Mount in recent days, forcing the police to stream forces to the holy site to quell the violence. Israel has made no changes to the arrangements on the Temple Mount, which is fully accessible to Muslims.
Earlier on Monday, Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned deputy ambassador Sami Abu Janeb “to protest and condemn the Israeli violations, holding the Israeli authorities responsible for everything that happens.”
Responding to diplomatic escalation, Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated that summoning of Israel’s Deputy Chief of Mission “harms efforts to bring about quiet in Jerusalem and provide backing to those who are damaging the sanctity of the holidays and are using violence which endangers the lives of Muslims and Jews alike.”
Israel is “committed to and is acting indefatigably to guarantee freedom of religion and worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem on normal days and holidays alike, and certainly in this period during which Passover, Ramadan and Easter converge,” the statement said.
“In recent weeks, the Israel Police have acted responsibly, with restraint, and with discretion in the face of many dozens of rioters who with their actions desecrate the values of Islam and the holiness of the Mount.
“The Israel Police’s actions, including last Friday, are what has allowed prayers to take place for tens of thousands of Muslim believers. Such activity came only after all other means were exhausted, including intensive dialogue with the Waqf,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Addressing the Jordanians, Israel said that “every responsible partner must recognize this, and not take part in spreading completely false information which only inflames the atmosphere.
“Statements supporting violent actions, including the throwing of rocks, are beyond understanding and contribute to escalation.
“Israel is maintaining the status quo and expects all of its partners to condemn extremists partaking in incitement and violence.”
The Foreign Ministry has so far taken no further action against Jordan’s hostile statements and actions.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a recorded message in which he did not mention Jordan by name, and said that he “views with utmost severity the remarks accusing Israel of the violence directed against us, and there are those who are encouraging rock-throwing and the use of violence against the citizens of the State of Israel.
“This is unacceptable to us. This is a reward for the inciters, especially Hamas, which are trying to ignite violence in Jerusalem. We will not allow this to happen,” he said.
Israel will “continue to provide for and safeguard the dignity of all of us, to enable everyone to celebrate in Jerusalem, and — most of all — our forces will continue to provide security for the citizens of the State of Israel.”
Israeli analyst Yoni Ben Menachem, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote that Jordan is “initiating a crisis with Israel against the background of the events on the Temple Mount due to a protest on the Jordanian street and King Abdullah’s desire to establish new facts on the Temple Mount. The Israeli government must show determination in its sovereignty over the Temple Mount and end its policy of bowing to King Abdullah.”
“The Jordanian guardianship of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is religious but the sovereignty of the Temple Mount is Israeli and should be well maintained and we should not be excited by the Jordanian protest, we have been in this situation several times already.”
The crisis with Jordan erupted after Israeli attempts to placate the Jordanians and establish some sort of collaboration surrounding the tensions on the Temple Mount.
Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, President Isaac Herzog and other Israeli officials have paid homage to King Abdullah during visits to Amman in recent months, overtly and covertly, apparently to no avail.
“The weak policies of the Bennett government, the flattering visits of Herzog, Ganz and Lapid to Jordan were interpreted by the king as an Israeli weakness and an opportunity to leverage events on the Temple Mount to force new facts on the ground and narrow Israel’s feet in the holiest place for the Jewish people,” Ben Menachem wrote.
“There is no fear for the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. Jordan needs this agreement no less than Israel and it is dependent on Israel for water and gas.”