Hael Abd-el Hafiz Daud, the Jordanian Minister for Sacred Properties and Islamic Holy Sites, warned this week of unspecified diplomatic consequences to the fact that the “Israeli occupation” allows “settlers” to enter the area of the Al Aqsa Mosque and hold up the Israeli flag. This happened, he accused, with the protection of Israeli security forces, who prevented faithful Muslims and Waqf guards from taking the flag down.
In a statement published from Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia, where he is currently on pilgrimage to Mecca, the Jordanian minister said that such actions “constitute a provocation of the feelings of 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide.”
He said that Jerusalem is an occupied city according to international institutions, and that the occupying power is responsible for maintaining the status quo and preventing any harm to the sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque.
He called on the UN, other international bodies and the Arab League to act urgently to prevent Israel from “causing further harm to the sanctity of Al Quds and Al Aqsa.”
The statement may have been prompted by a recent event in which a Jewish youth briefly unfurled an Israeli flag on the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site and the location of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem, the latter of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
Despite that fact, Jewish visitors face severe restrictions upon ascending the Mount, including a blanket ban on praying or on performing any other form of worship, as well as restrictions on the size of groups which can ascend. Those who violate the restrictions face arrest and a prolonged ban from ascending altogether.
Numerous court rulings have stipulated that Jews must be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount as a basic right to freedom of religion. Nevertheless, the Israeli police force has repeatedly ignored the rulings, citing unspecified "security concerns" as a pretext to continue enforcing the ban.
Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots – for days or weeks at a time – despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out. Prominent Israeli MKs, such as Moshe Feiglin and Zeev Elkin, have been forced to leave the Temple Mount due to fears of violence.