Jordan denies claims it will allow non-Muslims into Aqsa
Jordan has denied Israeli reports claiming the kingdom and Israel were in negotiations over allowing Jews and other non-Muslims to enter and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to mutually agreed schedules.
The Jordanian Minister of Endowments and Islamic Holy Sites Hayel Dawood told local Jordanian press: "Jordan is accustomed to fabrications by Israeli media, but there is no basis for these reports."
Dawood denied Jordan was negotiating with Israel over allowing non-Muslims to pray in Al-Aqsa.
Dawood said there were contacts with Israel about allowing Muslims to enter the mosque and pray there without being harassed by Jewish settlers, saying the Jordanian efforts have since allowed around 10,000 Muslims to go to Al-Aqsa every day.
The claims were first made by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The Israeli paper claimed Jordan was negotiating with the Israeli government to allow Israelis and non-Muslim tourists to enter Al-Aqsa and worship there.
Al-Aqsa Mosque has been closed to non-Muslims since the third Intifada in 2000. Before the intifada, non-Muslims were allowed to enter freely.
Officially, the Wadi Araba treaty and subsequent protocols signed between Jordan and Israel prevent non-Muslims from entering mosques in Palestine, including Al-Aqsa and the Ibrahimi Mosques.
Jordan sees the repeated incursions by Jewish settlers into Al-Aqsa, not to mention Israeli restrictions on Muslims entering the second-holiest mosque in Islam, to be in violation of the agreements.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry has not issued an official denial regarding the alleged negotiations.
Israel annexed the city of Jerusalem following its capture in the 1967 Six-Day War. Before then, it was under Jordanian sovereignty. Israel claims sovereignty over the area that contains the mosque, but the mosque itself remains under the administration of an independent Palestinian-Jordanian Islamic Endowments Trust.
Before the Oslo Accords were signed between the Palestinians and Israelis, Jordan was almost exclusively in charge of the mosque complex, via the Jordanian Ministry of Endowments. Afterwards, Palestinians negotiated with Israel over ownership of the mosque, but no agreement was reached.
In 2013, the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas signed a declaration placing the Islamic holy sites again under the control of the Hashemite kingdom, in the hope Jordan would be able to better deter Israeli violations. The document gives King Abdullah II the authority to act in the best interest of the holy sites, but keeps them under Palestinian sovereignty.