King Abdullah II and Mahmoud Abbas
King Abdullah II and Mahmoud Abbas Reuters

Jordan's King Abdullah II is pressing Israel not to pass a bill allowing Jews to exercise their religious rights and pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, a senior official of the Hashemite kingdom revealed on Tuesday.

Jordanian Ambassador to "Palestine" Khalid al-Shawabka told the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency that a bill proposed by MK Miri Regev (Likud) dividing prayer time at the Mount, as is done in Hevron's Cave of Machpelah, is "unacceptable," calling the Al-Aqsa Mosque (often used as a euphemism for the entire Temple Mount) and Jerusalem "red lines."

Currently the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) has de facto control of the site and pays the salaries of local staff. Al-Shawabka further revealed the Hashemite kingdom invests 7 million dinars ($9 million) into Jerusalem developmental projects every year through the Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry of endowment.

The figure is an important revelation, as the PA has no legal jurisdiction over the undivided capital of Israel - it is possible the "projects" refer to the 40,000 illegal Arab housing units in Jerusalem, which grow at a rate of roughly 800 per year.

The ambassador added that King Abdullah II himself donates $3.5 million from his own pocket to fund projects at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Under Jordan's auspices, the site has been the scene of anti-Semitic graffiti, the destruction of Jewish artifacts, and constant violent Arab rioting.

However, al-Shawabka claimed it was Arab residents who were being victimized, saying: "Jordan's foreign minister has sent strongly-worded messages to foreign ministers of member states of the UN Security Council and to the UN demanding an end to the systematic assaults on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and on worshipers."

Asked about Jordan's chances of thwarting Jewish prayer rights on the Mount, he said they would succeed just as Jordanian pressure last month caused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cancel construction on a second access ramp to the Temple Mount's only gate allowed for non-Muslim entry.

After a recent round of rioting last week, Netanyahu vowed to "maintain the status quo" on the Mount.

The new statements come the same Tuesday that Jordan's Ambasador to Israel Walid Obeidat reportedly demanded clarifications from the Foreign Ministry on the new bill, following reports that it would be voted on next month.