On Sunday, Jordan summoned envoy Amir Weissbrod to voice its “condemnation and rejection of Israeli violations” at the highly-sensitive site, where Israeli security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades at Palestinian worshippers last week.
Jordan, the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace agreement with Israel, supervises Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. It condemned the closure of the mosque’s gates and restrictions placed on worshippers’ entry under any circumstances.
Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, tweeted that he met European Union representatives earlier on Sunday to “stress urgency of effective Int’l steps against Israeli’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem”.
Met #EU ambassadors to stress urgency of effective Int’l steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied #Jerusalem. These violations & others seeking to change status quo in Holy Sites violate Int’l law, deepen tensions. Value #EU positions & proud of our partnership pic.twitter.com/UOWnkhXnbY
— Ayman Safadi (@AymanHsafadi) August 18, 2019
Sufyan Qudah, the spokesman for Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministry’s Secretary-General Zaid al-Lawzi delivered the Israeli ambassador a “decisive letter” to be conveyed immediately to the Israeli government.
Jordan’s diplomatic protest came days after Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan reportedly told a radio station that Tel Aviv should work towards allowing Jews to pray at the holy site.
But he added that the change should come through “political agreements and not by force,” according to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.
Jews are allowed to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, but they cannot pray there – a ban condemned by some Israeli nationalists, including members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s right-wing coalition.
Jordan’s foreign ministry expressed “the kingdom’s strong condemnation” over Erdan’s comments, demanding “an immediate stop to Israel’s violations and all its attempts to change the historic and legal status quo” at the site.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place in Islam and a key Palestinian national symbol.
It is also the holiest spot in the world for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount and believe it was the site of the two biblical-era Jewish temples.
As Muslims around the world marked the Eid al-Adha holiday on August 11, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, sparking Palestinian protests.
Eid al-Adha coincided with the Jewish Tisha B’av holiday, resulting in an increase in visits by Jewish worshippers to the holy site.
In a bid to ease tensions, police initially barred Jews from entering, but Muslim worshippers still suspected they would be allowed in and staged protests that sparked clashes.
After relative calm returned and following criticism from Israeli far-right politicians, police reopened the site to Jewish visits, provoking further violence.
Muslim worshippers’ access to Al-Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock is controlled by Israeli security forces.
The site is located in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.