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The New Arab Staff

Jordan's crown prince forced to cancel Jerusalem trip after Israel 'refuses entry' to security team

The incident could strain rocky Israeli-Jordan relations, after a period of relative calm [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2021

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Israeli officials at the King Hussein Bridge which connects Jordan to the Israeli-occupied West Bank reportedly took issue with the size of Prince Hussein's security contingent.

Jordan's crown prince was forced to cancel a trip to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Wednesday after Israeli authorities refused entry to his security entourage following a row over staff numbers, according to Israeli media.

Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah's pre-Ramadan visit to the third holiest site in Islam had been arranged to the "last detail", according to Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

However, when the Hashemite royal arrived at the King Hussein Bridge - which connects Jordan to the Israeli-occupied West Bank - Israeli border officials disputed the size of the prince's security contingent and the weapons carried by them.

This was said to be in breach of conditions agreed by the two countries who had allegedly requested a small security delegation for the royal, with only a few carrying arms, according to Kan.

Prince Hussein declined to make changes opting instead to cancel his trip altogether. The Hashemite Kingdom is in charge of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem under a Jordan-run Waqf, or ministry of religious endowments.

The New Arab contacted Jordan's embassy in London and the foreign ministry in Amman for comment. Neither responded at the time this report was published.

Israel's government said that the cancellation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the UAE was due to Jordan blocking airspace to his flight in protest at the crown prince row.

Read more: Netanyahu cancels UAE trip as wife hospitalised: Israeli media

While both Jordan and Israel formally made peace in 1994, Wednesday's incident at King Hussein Bridge could add further strain to relations between the two countries.

Late last month, Jordan's King reportedly met secretly with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, while Israeli Foreign Minister Gabby Ashkenazi has sat down with her Jordanian counterpart for talks twice since December.

The two sides remain at loggerheads over several issues including the status of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of their future state, a demand strongly backed by Jordan.

Tensions in the occupied city remain high. On Wednesday, Israeli forces arrested the 82-year-old former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the current preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third most holy site in Islam. It was occupied by Israel along with the rest of Palestinian East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

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