The top Jordanian government official responsible for the custodianship of religious holy sites in Jerusalem is quoted in local press on Tuesday as saying that he is “adamantly opposed” to any Jewish worship atop the Temple Mount.
Abd Al-Nasser Nassar, who serves as Amman’s top legal adviser for Islamic and Christian property in Jerusalem, is quoted as telling the Jordanian daily al-Rad that his government rejected an Israeli request to allow for Jews to pray in a small, designated area atop the site.
In the peace treaty signed between the two governments nearly 20 years ago, Israel acknowledged the Hashemite Kingdom’s “special role” in the custodianship of the holy sites in Jerusalem. In any final-status arrangement, the Israeli government pledged to “give high priority to the Jordanian historic role” when weighing any deal.
Last week, Arab lawmakers stormed out of a meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Interior which was devoted to the issue of Jewish visitation rights on the Temple Mount.
The Arab MKs wildly and ferociously denounced Bayit Yehudi and Likud lawmakers before exiting the proceedings.
Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) called the session to discuss the continued problems Jewish visitors experience on the Temple Mount.
In addition, Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) announced during the hearing he was seeking to reach an agreement with the Chief Rabbinate, which is opposed to Jewish visitation at the site, for approved and agreed procedures for Jews wishing to pray there.
The Chief Rabbinate has historically prohibited Jews from visiting the Temple Mount due to the concern that someone may walk into an area of the compound that should not be entered unless certain rituals have been performed.
Increasing numbers of devout Orthodox Jews, largely from the conservative wing of the national-religious movement, now visit the site, however, citing the opinions of senior rabbis who argue it is possible to visit the Temple Mount while avoiding the prohibited areas.
But MKs Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and other Arab lawmakers present at the hearing reacted furiously to the notion of standardizing procedures for less restricted Jewish access to the Temple Mount and shouted warnings of dire consequences, including a new intifada, should such proposals be advanced.
Tibi was ejected from the hearing but reappeared a short time later only to continue shouting, along with several other Arab MKs as they stormed out of the hearing.
“There is no Temple Mount,” shouted Zahalka. “There is only the Aksa Mosque, I don’t see a Temple Mount, it’s something virtual” he shouted, and continued to call out “al-Aksa” every time anyone in the hearing said the words “Temple Mount.”
Zahalka accused the Bayit Yehudi lawmakers present, along with Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, an ardent supporter of Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, of being “pyromaniacs.”