Jordan-Israel relations in crisis over al-Aqsa mosque strife

The decision was taken "in protest at the increasing and unprecedented Israeli escalation in the Noble Sanctuary, and the repeated Israeli violations of Jerusalem"

Jordan-Israel relations in crisis over al-Aqsa mosque strife

World Bulletin/News Desk

Increasing strife over Jerusalem's most volatile holy site plunged relations between Israel and Jordan into crisis on Wednesday, with Amman recalling its ambassador for the first time since the countries' 1994 peace treaty.

Palestinian officials said Israeli forces had crossed the threshold of the mosque for the first time since 1967.

Just as Israel was grappling with the second deadly attack in Jerusalem in two weeks and the risk of a third Palestinian uprising, Jordan added a new dimension to the conflict by recalling its envoy.

Speaking in Paris as he prepared to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Amman withdrew its ambassador because of the situation at the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

"We have sent repeated messages to Israel directly and indirectly that Jerusalem is a red line," Judeh said.

He accused the Israelis of violations and incursions, stopping people from worshipping freely and allowing extremists to enter. "These violations are infuriating" to Muslims worldwide, he said.

The Arab kingdom's official Petra news agency said Jordan would lodge a complaint with the U.N. Security Council over Israeli actions in the city and at the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, housing the al-Aqsa mosque and golden Dome of the Rock shrine.

Jordanian Minister of Islamic Affairs Hayel Dawood has also warned that recent Israeli "violations" in East Jerusalem threatened to harm relations with the Hashemite kingdom.

"Relations between countries are based on interests, mutual respect and a commitment to law and international treaties," Dawood told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

"Relations will suffer due to Israel's disrespect for the [1994] Jordan-Israel peace agreement," he warned.

"Jordan considers [oversight of] the Al-Aqsa Mosque a major responsibility," Dawood said, calling on Arab and Muslim countries to join hands to protect the iconic house of worship.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said Jordan's move was wrong and did not contribute to calming tensions.

Jordan's step came a little over a week after Israel and Jordan marked the 20th anniversary of their peace treaty.

At a ceremony on Oct. 26 recognising the milestone, Jordanian Ambassador Walid Obeidat sounded a cautionary note over a campaign by Israeli ultranationalists to lift a de facto ban by Israel on Jewish prayer at the sacred compound.

Obeidat said any change to the status quo there would ultimately imperil the accord, Israel's second peace agreement with an Arab state after a treaty with Egypt in 1979.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued public assurances that he would keep existing arrangements for Muslim prayer in place at the compound. The site has been run by Jordanian religious authorities before and after Israel's capture of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war.

But the push for change by several far-right Israeli lawmakers and settler activists has enraged Palestinians and drawn denunciation from their leaders.

Last week, Israel closed the compound in Jerusalem's walled Old City. The move infuriated Jordan's King Abdullah, who is the official custodian of the sacred compound.

The last full closure was in 2000, when the second Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, began shortly after the then Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, visited al-Aqsa

At least 14 Palestinians suffered temporary asphyxiation on Wednesday after Israeli forces used teargas to break up a demonstration in East Jerusalem.

Clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the city's Shuafat neighborhood, the birthplace of a Palestinian driver who ran over several Israeli pedestrians in Jerusalem on Wednesday, leaving an Israeli police officer dead.

Tension had already been running high in occupied East Jerusalem since Jewish settlers kidnapped and killed a Palestinian boy from Shuafat in early July.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April and since then Israel has announced plans to expand settlements in occupied territory where Palestinians seek statehood, with East Jerusalem as their capital.

A war in Hamas-run Gaza between the Israeli armed forces and Palestinian militants in July and August has also contributed to a polarisation of the atmosphere.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

 

Last Mod: 06 Kasım 2014, 00:12
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