TEL AVIV – Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Saturday said Amman worked to prevent the “Judaization” of Muslim and Christian holy sites and reverse Israel’s recently imposed security measures at the Temple Mount.
The Jordanian king told local journalists that his country would continue its “historic role” protecting holy sites in Jerusalem and upholding the status quo at the flashpoint Temple Mount “through our common stand with our Palestinian brethren.”
He added that it was “important to stress the need to ensure full respect of the historical and legal status quo at the Haram al-Sharif [the Arabic name for Temple Mount] to prevent the recurrence of such crises.”
The status quo was established between Israel and Jordan, the official custodian of the Temple Mount, after Israel captured the site in the 1967 Six Day War.
Metal detectors and security cameras first installed after Israeli-Arab terrorists smuggled guns onto the Temple Mount and opened fire on July 14, killing two Druze-Israeli policemen, sparked outrage throughout the Arab world, which accused Israel of trying to control the holy site.
Palestinian and Muslim leaders used the new security measures as a battle cry and called for a Day of Rage. Armed with Molotov cocktails and shouting slogans telling Jews that “the army of Muhammed is returning,” Muslims converged on the holy city on a daily basis to riot. On the Friday following the initial attack, a grandfather and his two adult children were stabbed to death at their Shabbat table in the West Bank community of Halamish by a Palestinian terrorist who said he was avenging Israel’s alleged actions on the Temple Mount.
Jordan pressured Israel to remove the security measures. On Thursday, Israel complied, removing all the new installations and by that afternoon Muslim pilgrims returned to the site.
“We are fulfilling our historic, political and legal role and providing cover to prevent the Judaization of holy sites, despite the magnitude and difficulty of the challenges,” Abdullah II said.
At present, the Jordanian Islamic Waqf does not allow non-Muslims to bring any religious articles with them to the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – and also bans them from praying there, even under their breath.
Abdullah II also blamed Jerusalem for the killing of two Jordanians during a terror attack at the Israeli embassy in Amman.
“A staff member at the Israeli embassy in Amman has shot two of our sons. We will dedicate all the efforts and resources of the Jordanian state to ensure that justice takes its course,” said the king, referring to the Jordanians who were shot and killed in self-defense by an embassy security guard after he was stabbed with a screwdriver by one of them.
Jordan demanded that the security guard be held for questioning, but Israel and the U.S. intervened, saying he had diplomatic immunity. The guard, known only as Ziv, returned home Monday along with the rest of the embassy staff. Jordan reacted harshly to Netanyahu’s welcoming of the guard as a hero after the Prime Minister’s Office posted pictures of Netanyahu and the guard embracing.
Abdullah II said Netanyahu was “required to honor his responsibilities and take the necessary legal measures to ensure that the killer is tried and justice is served, rather than exhibiting political showmanship in dealing with this crime to score personal political points.”
“Such conduct is utterly rejected and provocative. It angers us all, threatens regional security, and fuels extremism. It is absolutely unacceptable,” he added.
Jordan said the guard was guilty of murder and added that none of the Israel embassy staff would be allowed to return. The kingdom also called for the guard to be prosecuted under international law.
Israel announced that it would open its own investigation to be conducted by a joint team of the Israel Police, the Shin Bet security service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.