Israel rejects proposal to return Al-Aqsa to Jordanian administration

Israel rejects proposal to return Al-Aqsa to Jordanian administration
3 min read
19 October, 2015
Israel rejected a proposal to return Al-Aqsa mosque to Jordanian administration, according to Israeli website Walla.
Israeli restrictions near Al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem [Anadolu/Getty]
The Israeli news website Walla said on Monday that the office of the Israeli prime minister recently rejected a Jordanian proposal to return Al-Aqsa Mosque to Jordanian administration, which would include giving the Jordanian Islamic Endowments Authority the power to set times for non-Muslims to enter the mosque, as was the case before the second intifada.

The website said Israel's rejection of the Jordanian proposal prompted King Abdullah II of Jordan to decline a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to meet.

The website said that until 2000, the Jordanian Islamic Endowments were in charge of Al-Aqsa Mosque, regulating the entry of non-Muslims. However, after the late Israeli PM Ariel Sharon entered Al-Aqsa in 2000, triggering the second intifada, the situation at the mosque became ambiguous until the Israeli government decided in 2003 to turn over authority over the mosque to the Israeli police and security services, preventing the Jordanian authorities from intervening.

This explains the increasing number of Jewish settlers and extremists who have been allowed by the occupation forces to enter the mosque.

The news website pointed out that the Egyptian regime, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has in recent days expressed that it practically supports the Israeli position. The regime is exerting a lot of pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to calm the situation in the West Bank, unlike the Jordanian position.

Practically, what Walla has published concerning changing the identity of who controls the movement of non-Muslims in and out of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound indicates to a change in the status quo that had prevailed since the Six-Day War and the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, up to 2003, when the Jordanians were responsible for managing the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque, including regulating who is allowed to enter or exit the compound.

A few days following the occupation of Jerusalem, Israeli Security Minister Moshe Dayan made an understanding with the Jordanian Islamic Endowments Authority, that would allow for non-Muslims - Jews and Christians - to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as tourists. Jewish prayers or rituals were banned from the compound, particularly that Jewish injunctions (ultra-Orthodox) had also put such resrictions on Jews for religious reasons related to the return of Christ who would rebuild the Temple of Solomon.

Until 2003 the number of Jews who entered Al-Aqsa compound under Jordanian administration was very small. Only after 2003 was there an increase in the flow of various Jewish activist movements that seek to divide the compound based on time and space.

These practices have become more serious and exacerbated in the last three years with the increasing influence of the Jewish Home party and following suggestions by non-religious political figures, including the Likud, to change the status quo and allow Jews to perform religious rituals at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The matter reached its peak when Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party stormed the Al-Aqsa compound on the eve of Eid al-Adha, an important Muslim holiday, to perform Jewish prayers and rituals there in front of cameras. This was a deliberate propaganda move by Ariel - who advocates the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple of Solomon there - which sparked the current intifada in Jerusalem.