Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Jordan Tuesday that Israel has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. This means that Jews will continue to be forbidden to pray on the Mount.
A bill submitted by MK Miri Regev (Likud), according to which Jews will be allowed to pray on the Mount, and not just tour it, caused alarm in Jordan. Jordan's Ambassador to Israel Walid Obeidat reportedly demanded clarifications from the Foreign Ministry Tuesday on the new bill, following reports that it would be voted on next month.
Jordan sees itself as being in charge of the Al Aqsa Mosque, which was built on the Temple Mount by Muslim occupiers centuries ago.
When the Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv contacted the Foreign Ministry, reported IDF Radio, the Ministry relayed the matter to the Prime Minister's Office, which told the radio station that “the prime minister has repeatedly made clear in recent weeks that there is no intention of carrying out a change in the status quo on the Temple Mount and that the ones causing the provocations are extremist Palestinian elements.”
Jordan's King Abdullah II is pressing Israel not to pass the bill, a senior official of the Hashemite kingdom revealed on Tuesday.
The Temple Institute's International Director, Rabbi Chaim Richman, condemned Netanyahu's statement, branding it an "explicit admission that the State of Israel has officially relinquished sovereignty at the Jewish people’s holiest site."
"The status-quo referred to here is the illegal and undemocratic prohibition against all forms of Jewish prayer, worship, or identity at the Temple Mount.
"The manner in which Jews are treated on the Temple Mount is anti-Semitic and is a flagrant violation of the most basic human rights. A bill was submitted to the Knesset that called for Jews to be able to pray on the Temple Mount, and this bill ‘caused alarm’ in Jordan so Netanyahu assured King Abdullah that this would not happen. By doing so, Prime Minister Netanyahu has proven himself to be a vassal of Abdullah and the not the leader of the independent State of Israel.
"He can invoke the tired mantra that ‘the Temple Mount is in our hands,’ and Israel is sovereign at the site, but the words are worthless. At a time of unprecedented numbers of Jews ascending the Temple Mount in purity, increased public awareness as to the importance of the Temple Mount for the Jewish people, and a sizable number of Knesset members calling for the right to Jewish prayer at the site, Netanyahu has displayed gross insensitivity to Jewish needs, rights, and feelings, and a total disconnect from the soul of the people of Israel."
Jordanian Ambassador to "Palestine" Khalid al-Shawabka told the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency that Regev 's bill, 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."
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 had also vowed to "maintain the status quo" on the Mount.
Currently the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) has de facto control of the site and pays the salaries of local staff.