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November 14, 2014 1:30 am

Jews Only Allowed to Ascend Temple Mount in Small Groups After Netanyahu Phone Call With King of Jordan

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avatar by Tzvi Zucker / Tazpit News Agency

The Temple Mount atop Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Dave Bender

The Temple Mount atop Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Dave Bender

Israeli police at the Temple Mount have begun limiting Jewish entry to groups of five. The police also do not allow Jews to pray while there.

The new rules follow a phone conversation between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the King of Jordan. Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel for “consultations” last week, and he has yet to return. Netanyahu assured the King in their conversations that Jordan’s role, and the status quo of the Mount, will continue to be Israeli policy.

This development follows a telling remark from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in which he said, “We can’t ignore the fact that some of the events are being exploited for what ministers and MKs did when they went up to Temple Mount. It is certainly within our right to go up to Temple Mount, but there is a very sensitive status quo in play here that has been agreed upon with Jordan, and we need to preserve it. The fact that the Palestinians exploit this and turn it into a provocation and incitement is true, but we don’t need to ignite this.”

Since Israel’s victory in 1967, the Temple Mount has been run by the Jordanian government, though with Israeli security at the site. Article 9, section 2 of the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan included an understanding that Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy would keep its “special role” as custodian of the Temple Mount. The Hashemite monarchy has held this title since 1924, and derives much of its legitimacy from it.

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It is precisely this status quo that Jewish activists have been seeking to change. Tensions over Jewish accessibility to the Temple Mount have recently been rising steadily. Yehuda Glick, a prominent rabbi and activist for Jewish rights to ascend the Temple Mount, was shot on October 29 after a speech in central Jerusalem. Glick’s shooter specifically confirmed his identity before pulling the trigger, suggesting the shooting was a targeted assassination attempt, and not a random terror attack. The Palestinian Authority has been releasing editorial cartoons implying Israel is trying to take over the site, and encouraging people to “protect” the Al-Aqsa mosque. The hashtag “#Drive4AlAqsa” has emerged on Palestinian social media, advocating vehicular attacks against Israeli Jews. Cartoons, slogans, and other forms of incitement are spread online daily.

Professor Hillel Frisch, an expert on Jordanian relations and politics, told Tazpit News Agency that he believes Netanyahu will continue to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount, which means keeping Jews away as much as possible. “Security coordination between Israel and Jordan is very important to Israel, and one of the reasons Judea and Samaria do not look like Gaza today. Jordan is a buffer state for terror,” he explained. “The Temple Mount is a problem for [that].”

“Jordan’s population is 78% Palestinian” Frisch pointed out. “Jordan is the status quo player in the Middle East, because it is dependent on the status quo. It has no oil, or military might.”

When asked if there was a correlation between the King and Netanyahu’s phone call and the ensuing quiet, Frisch said he believes that to be the case. However, he said that the rioting was not due to Jordanian influences, but rather Hamas, and to a certain extent the Palestinian Authority.

Shmuel Sackett, Spokesperson for the Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud, told Tazpit News Agency: “We do not recognize the role of the King of Jordan – in any way – regarding the issue of Har HaBayit. We will continue to [go up], and will not agree to being restricted to small groups.”

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