Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Denies Israel Accepted Jordanian Demand For 50 Additional Waqf Members

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JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The Israeli prime minister’s office denied reports in Israeli media which claimed on Monday that Public Security minister Omer Bar-Lev had agreed to add another 50 Waqf staff members on Temple Mount. The Waqf is the Islamic religious council responsible for the civil administration of Temple Mount and the demand for extra staff came from Jordan, which funds the council. However the prime minister’s office categorically denied that Israel had acceded to the Jordanian demand, a demand reciprocated by the Ra’am party, a member of Bennett’s own coalition.

“There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount — Israel’s sovereignty is preserved,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“All decisions will be made by the Israeli government out of considerations of sovereignty, freedom of religion and security, and without pressure from foreign factors or political factors,” the statement read, referencing comments made by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday..

“About a month and a half ago, a Jordanian request was received to increase Waqf positions on the Temple Mount by 50, but Israel did not see fit to agree to the request,” the statement read.

The statement said that, in practice, six people who were found to support the Hamas terror group were removed from their positions on the Temple Mount, with 12 individuals given jobs at the holy site in their stead. The statement said that this replacement was within the existing agreed framework.

The denial of the request is a snub of Ra’am, which has threatened to leave the government over the issue of management of Temple Mount and alleged Jewish prayers at the site. Currently, the Bennett government has only 60 members supporting it and only the external support of the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List saved the government from an embarrassing no-confidence motion on the first day of the summer session in the Knesset. The Joint Arab List stressed that it was not supporting the government but rather preventing the forming of a “Netanyahu-led fascist government” in its place.

Political commentators say that Bennett has despaired of working with Ra’am and now seeks to replace them with one of the chareidi parties in order to shore up his increasingly shaky coalition.

 


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