Report: Jordanian King, Palestinian President Reject Israeli Offer to Reduce Number of Non-Muslim Visitors to Temple Mount
In an effort to reduce tensions and restore calm, Israel presented an offer to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to reduce the number of Jewish and other non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount, Israeli website Walla reported on Wednesday, basing its information on Arab sources.
According to these sources, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the offer, however, on the grounds that it was insufficient. Indeed, said the sources, the Jordanians and Palestinians are demanding not only a reduction in non-Muslim visitors to the site, but also a return to the status quo, as it existed before September 28, 2000. At that time, visits by non-Muslims to the Temple Mount were handled and monitored solely by the trust, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Since 2003, however, the Israel Police has been responsible for managing non-Muslim visits to the Temple Mount.
The Arab sources also told Walla that there was great anger towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Jordanian King’s court, and that until the Israeli government returns to the pre-2000 status quo, King Abdullah will refuse to meet with Netanyahu, and there will be no real easing of tensions.
According to Walla, Netanyahu’s coalition partners were enraged by the Israeli proposal to Jordan and the P.A., with Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (of the right-wing Jewish Home party) threatening to resign from the government if it agreed to a reversal of the current status quo.
Ariel said that even the current status quo — according to which Jewish prayer is forbidden on the Temple Mount, and Jews are limited in the hours they are allowed to enter the site — is “horrible.” He said it was a “disgrace” that a Jew could be arrested for saying the Shema [a key Jewish prayer] on the Temple Mount.
MK Yinon Magal, also from the Jewish Home party and a former editor-in-chief of Walla, expressed equal disappointment.
“It is not possible that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has surrendered to Arab violence,” he said.
Magal added that while he did not believe Netanyahu would hinder Jewish freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, he demanded an immediate guarantee from the prime minister, “Because we, as members of the governing coalition, will not accept such a decision.”