Undermining Jordan's authority on Temple Mount emboldens Hamas - PA

The Palestinian Authority is concerned about the rising level of influence that Hamas has with extremist groups regarding Temple Mount.

A WOMAN PRAYS on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, last Friday. (photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)
A WOMAN PRAYS on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, last Friday.
(photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

The Palestinian Authority is strongly opposed to any attempt to end or undermine Jordan’s role as custodian of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a senior PA official said on Thursday.

The PA is also concerned about the rising influence of Hamas and other extremist groups over the site, the official said. He warned that any measure to weaken the role of the Jordanian-controlled Wakf Department in east Jerusalem would further embolden Hamas and its supporters.

The Palestinian position was relayed to Jordan’s King Abdullah by PA President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting in Amman on Wednesday night, the official said.

The meeting was attended by PLO Executive Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA General Intelligence Service Majed Faraj, and the PA president’s son, Yasser Abbas.

The meeting came amid reports that Jordan, which administers the holy site through the Islamic Wakf department in east Jerusalem, has demanded that Israel relinquish control over the Aqsa Mosque compound, the Temple Mount.

 Jordan's King Abdullah II seen with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, during a welcome ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (credit: FLASH90) Jordan's King Abdullah II seen with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, during a welcome ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (credit: FLASH90)

A Wakf official said that his department was demanding that Israel approve an increase in the number of security guards at the Mosque compound.

According to the official, the Wakf Department has also demanded that it be solely responsible for the visits of all non-Muslims to the holy site, as was the case before 2000.

“The Jordanians are afraid of losing their status as custodians of al-Aqsa Mosque, especially in light of the recent events there, where supporters of Hamas and Hizb ut-Tahrir seemed to be in control,” the PA official said. “King Abdullah raised the issue with President Abbas during their meeting. President Abbas assured him that the Palestinian Authority will not allow anyone to harm Jordan’s historical role.”

In the peace treaty signed between Israel and Jordan in 1994, Israel recognized the special role of Jordan in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem, and committed itself to give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines in future peace negotiations.

In 2013, an agreement was signed between Abbas and King Abdullah recognizing Jordan’s role in preserving, administering and ensuring access to the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

At the meeting in Amman, Abbas and King Abdullah discussed “the latest developments in the political arena, the Israeli escalation in the Palestinian territories, ways of defending Jerusalem and the Islamic and Christian holy sites, and enhancing joint coordination between the Palestinian and Jordanian leaderships,” according to a statement published by the PA’s official news agency Wafa. “Abbas reiterated the need to pressure the Israeli government to halt its unilateral actions, respect the signed agreements, and stop its ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people.”