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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Israel Is Committed to Maintaining the Status Quo on the Temple Mount

Filed under: Israel, Jordan

Israel Is Committed to Maintaining the Status Quo on the Temple Mount
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting in Amman with King Abdullah II of Jordan. (Screengrab, YouTube)

The violent events at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan led to the deterioration of relations between Israel and Jordan once again and a crisis of confidence on the part of Jordan.

Israel will try to restore relations with Jordan immediately after the Id al-Fitr holiday. Israeli political officials in Jerusalem emphasize that there will be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount.

One of the critical tasks that Prime Minister Netanyahu will face in the coming weeks will be to try to reduce the tensions in relations between Israel and Jordan. The strains increased significantly during Ramadan following the violent events inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The police dispersed rioting teens with force, in full view of the cameras. Palestinian youths who had barricaded themselves inside the mosque were planning to attack the police and Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

In January 2023, Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to Jordan immediately after taking office and met with King Abdullah of Jordan. At the center of the conversation was the issue of the security situation on the Temple Mount and the royal demand to maintain Jordan’s position as the guardian of the holy places in Jerusalem, as required by the peace agreement between the two countries. Netanyahu promised the King of Jordan to fully maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount.

During the month of Ramadan, there was a deterioration in Jordan’s relations with Israel following the violent events on the Temple Mount. As expressed in Jordan’s diplomatic rhetoric towards Israel, the Jordanians saw the Israeli activity as a violation of Jordan’s position as the guardian of the holy places in Jerusalem and an attempt to impose a division of the Temple Mount between Muslims and Jews as was done at the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron in 1994.

Jordanian sources say that the worsening of the official diplomatic rhetoric against Israel came at the orders of King Abdullah to contain the great anger on the Jordanian street and in the parliament toward the Jordanian government for not taking stronger measures with Israel or expelling the Israeli ambassador from Amman.

The Jordanian government strongly condemned Israel for what happened on the Temple Mount and accused it of escalation. Jordan initiated an emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss what was happening on the Temple Mount and in eastern Jerusalem.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi stated that there would be no peace in the region if the Palestinian people did not receive their rights. He emphasized that Jordan would not give up and would not conduct any negotiations on its position as guardian of the holy places in Jerusalem.

Al-Jazeera reported that Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi refused three times to receive phone calls from Israeli officials during the crisis at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He also rejected a request from Israel conveyed to him through an intermediary that the Jordanian Waqf on the Temple Mount would assist in evacuating Palestinians who barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque one night.

Senior Israeli officials accuse the Jordanian foreign minister of being a force behind the worsening relations between the Hashemite Kingdom and Israel and of displaying an anti-Israel stance, perhaps to promote himself to the position of prime minister in the future.

About 70 percent of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin, and every event on the Temple Mount provokes them and is exploited by Islamic elements to incite against Israel.

The Biden administration made a political effort in preparation for Ramadan and initiated two security meetings in Aqaba, Jordan, and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with the participation of representatives of the United States, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt to try and maintain calm during the month of Ramadan, but it failed in its mission.

The United States acted in the United Nations to block the passage of an anti-Israel statement by the Security Council on the situation on the Temple Mount. Political officials in Jerusalem accused the Waqf on the Temple Mount, which is subordinate to the Jordanian government, of failing in its duty and not cooperating with Israeli efforts to prevent the provocations and violence of Palestinian youth on the Temple Mount.

Senior political figures stress that Israel has no interest in worsening relations with Jordan, with whom it has a peace agreement. Prime Minister Netanyahu will work to calm tensions between the two countries after Ramadan.

The Biden administration is also pressuring the Hashemite royal house to moderate its public statements against Israel and return to calmer relations.

A senior political official emphasized that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s promise to King Abdullah of Jordan stands and that Israel will not harm the status quo on the Temple Mount.