AMMAN — Jordan has rejected a request by Israeli authorities to allow Jewish prayer at Al Aqsa Mosque, officials say, amid rising tensions at third holiest site in Islam.
Amman has recently vetoed a request by Tel Aviv to set a designated area and prayer times for Jewish worshippers within Al Haram Al Sharif, an official said.
“Jordanian officials have refused an Israeli request to allow Jewish prayer stretching from the ablution fountain to the main door to Al Aqsa mosque,” Abdul Nasser Nasser, Jordanian adviser for Islamic and Christian religious affairs in Jerusalem, noted in a press statement on Monday.
The request comes as Israeli MPs discussed a proposal by ultraconservative Israelis to allow for Jewish prayer inside the Muslim holy compound and to place the third holiest site in Islam under the jurisdiction of the Israeli ministry of religious affairs.
Awqaf officials report that Al Aqsa Mosque is witnessing a rising number of forced entries of right-wing Israeli activists seeking to pray at the site in recent weeks — accusing Tel Aviv of assisting and encouraging “provocative violations” they warn may spark violence.
“Already, occupation forces are allowing the entry of groups of extremists each day whose only goal is to Judaise Al Haram Al Sharif and specifically Al Aqsa Mosque,” said Azzam Khatib, director of the Jerusalem awqaf.
“If the Israeli government does not stop these violations, we will see violence very soon in Jerusalem.”
Also this week, Israeli authorities prevented awqaf technical teams from repairing water pipelines leading to Al Aqsa, Khatib said, describing the move as a direct violation of international law and UNESCO conventions.
Earlier this month, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Hayel Dawood warned Israel over a proposed plan to divide the compound in order to designate a prayer site for Jewish worshippers, who claim the area as the site of the so-called second temple, accusing Tel Aviv of “playing with fire”.
In October, UNESCO overwhelmingly approved a Jordanian-Palestinian measure calling on Israel to respect Jordan’s historic custodianship of Islamic sites in Jerusalem, allow the entry of Jordanian technical teams into Jerusalem unobstructed and the dispatch of a monitoring team to ensure Tel Aviv’s abidance by international law.
As of Tuesday, the historic initiative had yet to be put into force.