"Israel has no sovereignty in the holy sites in Jerusalem," Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Tuesday in the wake of ongoing tensions regarding the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
"Israel has no sovereignty in the al-Aqsa mosque," Safadi said in an interview with Jordan's Al-Malka, referring to the Islamic holy site on the Temple Mount. "It is a place of Muslim worship and only the Jordanian Wakf has full authority over the management of the compound."
The remarks come following Jordan's demand that 50 more security guards from the Wakf be added to the Temple Mount.
Reports emerged suggesting Israel's Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev gave in to these demands, but a statement from the Prime Minister's Office later dismissed this.
“There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount,” the PMO said. “Israeli sovereignty has been maintained.”
It was this comment that Safadi was responding to.
"We want calm, but the way to do so is to respect the status quo," Safadi said. "Israel makes it difficult for all Wakf members to maintain security at the al-Aqsa mosque and prevents Wakf members from performing their duties. Dozens of new Wakf workers have been appointed in the al-Aqsa complex, but Israel is placing obstacles in the way of their work."
Israel removed six Wakf security guards who were Hamas sympathizers and replaced them with 12 new guards, which was within the number previously agreed upon and not an increase in what the government would authorize, the PMO said.
Jordan said it did not accept “participation or dictation from any party,” including the Israeli government, regarding the appointment of security guards at the Aqsa Mosque compound.
The appointment of guards and employees at al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) is within the mandate of Jordan and its Wakf Department in Jerusalem, the Jordanian Ministry of Wakf Islamic Affairs said Monday in a statement.
The ministry is “the only body charged with implementing the Hashemite custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments and consolidating the historical and legal status quo,” it said.
The 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan stipulates that Israel “respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem.”
The Wakf Islamic religious trust is responsible for the day-to-day administration of al-Aqsa Mosque.
Lahav Harkov and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.