Jerusalem24 – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett prompted fury and alarm among Palestinian and Jordanian leaders on Sunday when he seemed to cast doubt on the viability of the status quo surrounding holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stressed that “the League of Nations Resolution of 1930 states that the ownership of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Al-Buraq Wall and the adjacent plaza belong to Muslims alone.”
Speaking at a weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett said “All decisions regarding the Temple Mount and Jerusalem will be made by the Israeli government, which holds sovereignty over the city, without any foreign considerations.”
This is the first time an Israeli prime minister has seemingly openly rejected Jordanian Hashemite custodianship of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which dates back to 1924 and was officially agreed to by Israeli authorities after the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and reaffirmed in a 2013 agreement.
Naftali Bennett’s statement is going to have a negative effect on the relationship between Israel and Jordan…
Israeli media speculated that the comments were made in response to Mansour Abbas, whose United Arab List party was due to rejoin the government coalition after suspending its participation in protest at Israeli security interventions and settler invasions in the Al-Aqsa compound during Ramadan. Mansour wrote in a Facebook post that his party’s return to government was dependent on the results of joint Jordanian-Israeli talks brokered by US envoys.
“Ra’am’s position in the coalition, as regards the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, will be based on the results of the joint Israeli-Jordanian-international meetings.”
The talks were agreed to at the end of April by both Israelis and their Jordanian counterparts, at the behest of US envoys dispatched by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who was concerned at an escalation of violence.
It is unclear whether Bennett’s comments will affect the scheduled talks.
Esmat Mansour, an Israeli affairs expert and analyst, told Jerusalem24 that “Naftali Bennett’s statement is going to have a negative effect on the relationship between Israel and Jordan, which is a sensitive and important relationship that has barely been able to go back to its “normal” status since the Netanyahu government.”
He suggested that Israeli-American relations were also likely to suffer: “The US are the sponsors and the brokers of this solution [the joint Israeli-Jordanian talks] which was suggested as an answer to the continuously stressful and anxious situation that occurred during the month of Ramadan. We shouldn’t be surprised if the US pressures Bennett to retract his statement and clarify the status of the relationship with Jordan regarding Al-Aqsa Mosque.”