The Palestinian Authority and Jordan are working together to stop Hamas from controlling the Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount), a PA official revealed on Thursday.
The official told The Jerusalem Post that Ramallah and Amman have already taken a number of steps to prevent Hamas supporters from “commandeering” the protests of Muslim worshipers against Israeli measures, including visits by Jews to the site.
The official refused to provide any details. However, Palestinian sources pointed out that activists belonging to Fatah, the ruling faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, have been deployed at the compound in the past two weeks in a show of force and a warning to Hamas supporters.
In addition, the Jordanian-controlled Wakf Department, which administers the affairs of the Aqsa Mosque compound, has instructed its security guards to remove Hamas banners from the area, the sources said. The guards were also instructed to stop worshipers from bringing fireworks and other objects into the compound.
During Ramadan, thousands of worshipers chanted slogans in support of Hamas and raised the group’s flag, while others denounced Abbas.
The official accused Hamas of turning the holy site into a “podium for disseminating its ideology and political messages.” The PA and Jordan, he said, “will not allow Hamas to take control of the mosque.”
According to the official, Israel and Jordan are close to reaching an understanding of the Wakf Islamic religious trust’s responsibilities, including the hiring of new guards. The Wakf has sought to increase the number of its guards and replace many others who retired over the past two years. A senior Wakf official had complained that Israel refused to approve the new appointments unless they pass security clearance by Israeli authorities.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Ruwaidi, an adviser for Jerusalem affairs at the PA president’s office, said that the Palestinians are opposed to any interference by Israeli authorities in the management of the Aqsa Mosque compound.
Ruwaidi stressed the need to preserve the existing historical and legal situation at the site, and to respect Jordan’s role as guardian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.