Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount 390.
(photo credit: Ilan Evyatar)
The half-brother of King Abdullah II of Jordan paid a personal visit to
Jerusalem’s al- Aksa Mosque on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry sources and Islamic
religious authorities in Jerusalem said.
Sources at the Wakf Muslim
religious trust in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post that Prince Ali Bin
Al-Hussein had visited the city as head of a Jordanian delegation. A spokesman
for Ali, however, denied the visit, telling The Jerusalem Post the prince had
been attending a soccer charity event in Abu Dhabi.
suggested the visitor to Jerusalem had been Crown Prince Hussein, Abdullah’s
Foreign Ministry sources said Israeli authorities had
been informed of Ali’s visit in order to facilitate his entry to the
The sources said the visit did not constitute a formal visit to
Israel, and that no meetings had been set up with officials.
to the Mount via Mugrabi Bridge, an elevated wooden walkway connecting the
Western Wall Plaza with the Temple Mount. The bridge – built in 2007 and
intended to be temporary – has been a source of conflict between Israeli and
Wakf authorities over which has the right to conduct repairs to the structure,
deemed by Jerusalem city engineers to be unsafe.
Ali, 36, is the son of
Jordan’s late King Hussein and his third wife Queen Alia. A brigadier in the
Jordanian Armed Forces, he is also vice president for Asia of FIFA, the
international soccer governing body.
Azzam al-Khatib, the Wakf
director-general, confirmed in an interview with the Nazarethbased radio station
A-Shams that Ali had visited the site accompanied by an Islamic
cleric. Khatib said the visit had been “religiously motivated,” and both
personal and apolitical.
Still, Khatib added, “The Jordanian royal family
continues to watch everything happening in Jerusalem closely, particularly in
reference to al-Aksa Mosque.”
Wednesday’s visit was believed to Ali’s
first trip to Jerusalem.
His half-brother Abdullah rarely visits Israel.
The monarch last visited the country in 2004, making a secret trip to meet
then-prime minister Ariel Sharon and air concerns that the West Bank separation
barrier could lead to a mass flight of Palestinians into Jordan.
also rarely ventures into the Palestinian Authority – in November of last year
he visited Ramallah briefly ahead of unity talks between rival Palestinian
factions Hamas and Fatah. It was his first visit to the PA in 11 years.