A Palestinian youth is silhouetted as he holds a toy gun and a Koran during a protest after Friday prayers on Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recorded a special holiday greeting to Muslims on Friday, insisting that claims Israel was upsetting the delicate interfaith balance on Temple Mount were false.
"Muslim citizens of Israel and members of the Islamic faith around the world, I would like to wish you all an 'Eid mubrak'," Netanyahu said, marking the occasion of Id al-Adha. "I hope that this year will be one of peace between the religions."
"I would like you to know that Israel is maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount," the premier said, posting the message on his Facebook page. "Israel safeguards the holy places of all faiths. Don't be led astray by incitement, wild incitement that is without foundation. We respect all religions."
PM Netanyahu's Eid Al Adha Greeting to the Muslim Community
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Eid Al Adha greetings to the Muslim community: (English/Arabic subtitles available) "Muslim citizens of Israel and members of the Islamic faith around the world, I would like to wish you all an 'Eid mubrak'. I hope that this year will be one of peace between the religions. I would like you to know that Israel is maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount. Israel safeguards the holy places of all faiths. Don't be led astray by incitement, wild incitement that is without foundation. We respect all religions.
Posted by The Prime Minister of Israel on Friday, September 25, 2015
The emphasis Netanyahu placed on Temple Mount could be interpreted as a message directed at Jordan, which is reportedly furious with the Israeli government over its handling of events at the Islamic holy places there.
The Prime Minister’s Office refused comment Thursday on a spate of reports that Jordan’s King Abdullah II is refusing to take phone calls or meet secretly with Netanyahu because of the tension around the Temple Mount.
According to the reports, Abdullah does not want to create a “business as usual” atmosphere with Netanyahu while the situation around the Temple Mount remains tense.
Nevertheless, the prime minister did not back off from stressing that Israel will preserve the status quo and law and order at the site.
Following Thursday’s security cabinet meeting on stiffening penalties for rock-throwers, Netanyahu said that Israel has told its neighbors that it will preserve law and order on the Temple Mount, and is calling on the Palestinian Authority to “stop its wild incitement.”
“We are preserving the status quo,” he said. “We are not violating it and all comments that we intend to harm Muslim holy sites are completely baseless.”
Netanyahu added that those who were bringing explosive devices in the mosques are the ones altering the status quo.
The Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida reported on Thursday that Abdullah refused Netanyahu’s request to hold a secret meeting in the Red Sea resort town of Aqaba, just over the border near Eilat.
The reports said that not only has the Jordanian government refused to accept any back-channel messages from the Prime Minister’s Office, but it is considering a recall of its ambassador from Tel Aviv as a means to express its displeasure with Jerusalem’s policies.
Some 10-days ago Abdullah, in a meeting in Amman with British Prime Minister David Cameron, said that Jordan has been “very concerned and angered with the recent escalations in Jerusalem, specifically in Al-Aksa Mosque.”
He said that if the situation continues, it “will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel; and Jordan will have no choice, but to take action, unfortunately.”
Following Abdullah criticism, Israel - according to Channel 2 - sent messages to Jordan that it should not be shirking its own responsibility at the Temple Mount and that it was in fact the Jordanian Wakf Islamic Trust that has allowed the rioters who were armed with stones to sleep in Al-Aksa Mosque.