Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a series of commitments limiting Israel's sovereignty over the Temple Mount, a report from the International Crisis Group published in Haaretz reveals Sunday, during meetings with King Abdullah II of Jordan in November 2014.
Among the agreements exposed in the report:
- Netanyahu committed to prevent any MK from ascending the Temple Mount, limit Jewish visitors to the Mount, and prevent or minimize legislation limiting Muslim visitors to the Mount - whether on basis of age or gender;
- Abdullah obligated himself to prevent the Waqf Muslim Authority from allowing Palestinian Arab teenagers from staying overnight on the Mount to plan and execute terror attacks on police and civilians.
Netanyahu has kept to those stipulations, the report reveals - based on information given from the Israel Police to the leftist group Ir Amim under the Freedom of Information Act.
In 2015, for the first time in five years, there has been a marked decrease in the number of Jewish visitors permitted to visit the Mount - the holiest site in Judaism. 11,001 Jews ascended the Mount in 2015, compared to 11,724 in 2014. For comparison, 5,658 Jews ascended the Mount in 2009.
Despite its significance in Judaism, Amman's de facto control of the site prevents Jews from enjoying freedom of worship or even visiting the Mount.
Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the Temple Mount compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.
In response to the report, Netanyahu's office issued a statement saying: "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not obligate himself at any stage to limit the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount, and of course not to limit the entry of religious Jews. The only limitation is on MKs and ministers, Arabs and Jews (alike), which remains in effect at the current stage."
"The government of Israel is preserving the status quo and is obligated by it. Ahead of the Passover holiday all sources are asked to show responsibility and restraint so as to preserve the quiet on the Temple Mount," added the statement, noting on the status quo by which the Jordanian Waqf maintains de facto control.