Planned Jewish rally worries Jordan

Jordan has warned that a planned rally by Jewish radicals at a Jerusalem holy site claimed by both Muslims and Jews would lead to an escalation of violence.

    Some Jews are planning a rally at Jerusalem's Noble Sanctuary

    Last week, hardliners discussed sending thousands of Jews to the Haram al-Sharif, or Nobel Sanctuary, in order to draw Israeli army and police away from evicting settlers from Gaza and the northern West Bank.

    Israeli police said on Wednesday they would block the rally but campaign organiser David Haivri said unofficial negotiations with police were still in progress.

    Jordanian Religious Affairs Minister Ahmad Hilayil said on Friday the rally "will definitely lead to the escalation of the spiral of violence and chaos".

    "We urge the international community and the peace-loving camps to interfere to pressure and oblige Israel to provide the required protection to al-Aqsa Mosque from the extremists' aggressions," Hilayil said in remarks carried by the official Petra news agency.

    Heart of conflict

    The area is at the heart of the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is revered by Jews as Temple Mount, the site of the biblical temples, while it is Islam's third-holiest site and home to al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock mosques.

    The current Palestinian-Israeli conflict erupted just after Ariel Sharon, now Israel's prime minister, visited the site in September 2000, setting off clashes that escalated into more than four years of fighting.

    Jordan had ruled the West Bank for 17 years before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the holy site.

    In 1988, Jordan renounced all claims to the territory but maintained its claim to the holy site, which it oversees through the Waqf, or Islamic Trust.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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