Jordan's King Abdullah: We will use all available means to defend Jerusalem

Continued aggression against holy sites will bring an intifada, says former official.

King Abdullah (photo credit: REUTERS)
King Abdullah
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan’s King Abdullah promised that Jordan would safeguard holy Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, as a former senior official warned yesterday that aggressive Israeli actions will lead to a third intifada.
Jordan will “continue to confront, through all available means, Israeli unilateral policies and measures in Jerusalem and preserve its Muslim and Christian holy sites, until peace is restored to the land of peace,” said King Abdullah in a speech, Jordan News Agency – Petra reported.
“The Palestinian cause remains our principal cause and is a higher national interest,” said Abdullah.
The Jordanian monarch also vowed his country would continue “to mobilize international support to rebuild Gaza, following the vile Israeli aggression, which killed thousands of our brethren.”
The king linked preventing further “aggression” to a twostate solution and the Arab Peace Initiative.
He spoke in response to a surge of violence between Jewish and Arab residents of Jerusalem, in the wake of the attempted assassination on Wednesday night of rightwing activist Yehudah Glick.
In response to the violence, Israel closed the Temple Mount to all Muslim worshipers on Thursday, something it has not done in years.
Only Muslim women and male worshipers over 50 were admitted on Friday when it reopened. By Saturday all Muslims could access the site, and on Sunday Jewish and Christian visitors, who had been banned from the area for three days, were allowed to return.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the site would remain open to Muslim worshipers and that there were no plans to close it.
Still, Jordanian politicians warned on Saturday that the one-day Israeli closure of the Temple Mount is a violation of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.
“Jordan’s firm position and threat to revoke the 1994 peace treaty was taken seriously by Israel. Even the US seems to have realized the message and pressured Israel to go back on its decision,” Adnan Abu Odeh, a former Royal Court chief, told The Jordan Times Saturday.
“If Israel continues its aggressions against holy sites in Jerusalem and [its] provocative measures, a third intifada will be the least expected action in return... The whole region will sink into more violence,” Odeh warned.
“What Israel is doing is not surprising. It has always been violating [the laws of] God and man,” former foreign minister Kamel Abu Jaber told the Jordanian newspaper.
Abu Jaber added that Israel is seeking to take advantage of the chaotic Arab regional situation in order to create facts on the ground.
“The king is very upset over the Israeli violations. Our message was clear and violations against al-Aksa Mosque and the holy places in east Jerusalem will not go unanswered,” said Khaled Kalaldeh, minister of political and parliamentary affairs.
“We will not spare any effort or measure to stop Israeli violations,” asserted Kalaldeh.
The Arab League, which convened on Sunday for an emergency session at the request of Kuwait, called on the international community to immediately stop “Israeli violations” of Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque, the Kuwait News Agency reported.
The Arab League held the Israeli government responsible for the repercussions of its “blatant violations” and stressed the importance of sending a UN mission to Jerusalem to monitor such “violations.”
Netanyahu told his cabinet during its weekly meeting on Sunday that the status quo on the Temple Mount will be maintained and that Israel had no plans to harm or destroy the site where al-Aksa is located.
He accused Islamic fundamentalists of spreading false stories about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount by way of igniting religious violence.
“We will certainly oppose all systematic and continuing attempts by Islamic extremist elements to stir up unrest.
They would like to set a religious fire in Jerusalem and thereby ignite the entire Middle East. The place they are most determined on is the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu said.
“They are disseminating lies to the effect that we intend to destroy or harm the Aksa Mosque and that we intend to prevent Muslims from praying there,” Netanyahu said.
“They are using verbal and physical violence in an effort to exclude Jews from going up to the Temple Mount. We will not allow this to happen; neither will we alter the worship arrangements and the access to the Temple Mount that has been customary for decades,” Netanyahu said.
“It is easy to start a religious fire but much more difficult to extinguish it. These messages have been passed along as clearly as possible to Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], as well as to all elements in the area and among us,” Netanyahu said.
“We are committed to the status quo for Jews, Muslims and Christians,” he added.
In the last two days, he said, he has spoken with many people, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, in an effort to calm the violence in Jerusalem.
Right-wing activists have used the attack on Glick’s to renew their call for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, which they are now prohibited from doing.
Netanyahu told the cabinet he did not plan to authorize that change and called on the politicians to restrain themselves and not to act in an inciting manner.
“To my ministerial colleagues, these are especially sensitive times. Let us not play into the hands of our extremist enemies. I think that what is necessary now is to show restraint and to work together to calm the situation. I ask that you join me in the effort to maintain the existing order, let nobody harm it, certainly not our right to go up to the Temple Mount, but we will not change the arrangements.
I also ask that private initiatives be avoided as well as unbridled statements.
At this time we must show responsibility and restraint,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said to ensure that order is maintained in Jerusalem, he had ordered police reinforcements to the capital. He thanked the police for their efforts and sent his wishes to Glick for a speedy recovery.
“I spoke with his wife and his father and I told them that, along with the entire Jewish people, I am praying for Yehudah’s recovery. I am certain that I speak for all ministers and very many of the Israeli people in this regard,” Netanyahu said.
Abbas told a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah on Sunday evening that he sought to calm the situation in Jerusalem before things get out of control.
“We won’t accept any assault on Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque,” Abbas said.
“We support calm in Jerusalem.”
Abbas said he was “pained” by the tensions and clashes that took place in recent weeks in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.
“We have said more than once that the Aksa Mosque is a sacred place for us and we won’t accept any assault on it,” he added. “We don’t want an escalation. This is our position and we call for calm. We want to maintain the status quo at the Aksa Mosque.”
The PA said on Sunday that Netanyahu’s appeal to MKs to show restraint on the issue of the Temple Mount was a “step in the right direction.”
The PA also called for easing tensions, noting the religious importance of the Aksa Mosque to Muslims.
The PA warned that the “provocations and violations by [Jewish] extremists would lead to dangerous consequences on the entire region – something we don’t want.”
A senior Palestinian official said that the PA’s statement came at the request of Kerry, who phoned Abbas last Friday.
The official said that Kerry demanded that Abbas and the PA leadership work toward easing tensions in Jerusalem.
“Kerry requested that President Abbas issue a call for calming the situation,” the official added. “He promised that Washington would also ask Netanyahu to show restraint.”
A delegation of Palestinians headed by chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat is expected to meet with Kerry in Washington on Monday.