Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to “upgrade and clarify” the understandings reached by Israel and Jordan last year on the Temple Mount status quo in an effort to quell the current wave of violence, Israeli officials close to the matter told Haaretz on Monday night.
One of the ideas being examined is putting the understandings between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II in writing, according to those officials.
Kerry told a news conference in Madrid on Monday that in discussions he’d had with Netanyahu and Abdullah, the two expressed a desire to enter a process that would uphold the status quo on the Mount and “make sure everybody understands what that means.”
“We need to have clarity,” said Kerry.
Kerry will meet Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday and on Saturday, he will meet with King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman to try to ratify understandings on the Temple Mount.
Senior Israeli officials and American diplomats told Haaretz that in recent weeks Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians have been blaming each other for the alleged violations of the understandings on the Temple Mount reached between Netanyahu and Abdullah last November.
The Jordanians and Palestinians argue that Israel violated the understandings while Israel denies the claim, arguing that the Jordanian Waqf hasn’t met its obligations and that the Palestinians have staged provocations on the Temple Mount.
The Americans are choosing not to blame any party, but have been calling for restoring or preserving the status quo on the Mount, noted Haaretz.
One major problem is that the understandings reached last year were never put into writing, nor was there any orderly follow-up to make sure the understandings were implemented.
A senior Israeli official told the newspaper Monday night that one suggestion is to clarify the understandings, put them in writing, and establish a mechanism to allow Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians to resolve disputes and resolve problems as they arise.
Kerry’s initiative comes as France is pushing its suggestion that the UN Security Council issue a resolution calling for international observers on the Temple Mount.
On Monday, Israel summoned French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave to be rebuked over the French proposal.
Netanyahu responded to the call for international observers on the holiest site in Judaism, by saying at a Security Cabinet meeting that in the proposal "there is no mention of Palestinian incitement, there is no mention of Palestinian terrorism."
Netanyahu emphasized that the status quo on the Mount - by which the Jordanian Waqf continues to enjoy de facto control and ban Jewish prayer in violation of Israeli law - is not being changed by Israel, but rather is being breached by Arab rioters turning Al-Aqsa Mosque into a terror den.
Israel, however, isn't the only one that wants to keep foreign peacekeepers off the Temple Mount. Sheikh Ikhmara Sabari, head of the High Islamic Council of Palestine, on Monday ruled that foreign security officials could not serve on the Temple Mount.
“Muslims do not agree to the Judaization of Jerusalem, which has been a Muslim property for many generations,” Sabari wrote. “Anyone who assists in this is committing a sin. There is a consensus for this among all Muslims.”