JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah which was not previously announced in the media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly promised that the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be preserved.
In response to Jordanian fears of change on Temple Mount in the wake of Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit and control of the National Security Minister, the prime minister stressed a number of times that Israel would protect the authority of the Waqf — a Jordanian-appointed council that administers the Temple Mount.
Under an arrangement that has prevailed for decades under Jordan’s custodianship, Jews and other non-Muslims are permitted to visit the Temple Mount during certain hours but may not pray there. In recent years, Jewish religious nationalists, including members of the new governing coalition, have increasingly visited the site and demanded equal prayer rights for Jews there, a demand categorically rejected by Islamic elements worldwide.
Last week, a short diplomatic spat erupted between Jerusalem and Amman when Jordan’s ambassador to Israel was briefly held up by police at the entrance to the site during a visit. The Jordanian foreign ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador Eitan Surkis after alleging Jordanian ambassador Ghassan Majali was “refused entry” to the Temple Mount and handed him a letter of condemnation; police said that rather than refusing him entry, cops briefly held Majali up since he hadn’t coordinated the visit with them. He later visited the site unimpeded.
Netanyahu sought to reduce the diplomatic tensions as well as assuring the Jordanians that Israel would protect the status quo. The two discussed ways to lower tensions during the Ramadan month which falls this year in March. This period has usually led to an escalation in terrorist activity during previous years.
The meeting was described as “a good meeting that underlined the years of familiarity the leaders have with each other,” according to diplomatic sources.
Among the meeting’s attendees were Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Council chair Tzachi Hanegbi, and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar.
The inclusion of Bar in the meeting pointed to the excellent ties between the Shin Bet chief and his Jordanian counterpart and the security agencies under their leadership, an important component of both countries’ ability to maintain regional stability, Channel 12 reported.
A diplomatic source told the channel that Jordan’s backing was needed “to allow the situation [on the Temple Mount and its surroundings] to remain under control before Ramadan.”
The Jordanian monarch stressed the need to maintain the “historical and legal status quo at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and not to harm it.” He also reiterated his support for the two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
Abdullah was joined in the meeting by his Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Chief of Staff Jaafar Haasan, and intelligence chief Ahmed Hosni.
Dermer said the meeting went exceptionally well. “I have been to many meetings between Netanyahu and the king and this one was one of their best meetings,” he said, according to Walla.