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Government says Jordan’s pro-Jerusalem efforts paid off

By Mohammad Ghazal - Nov 15,2014 - Last updated at Nov 15,2014

AMMAN — Jordan's “well-studied” diplomatic push proved to be successful in the face of the recent Israeli escalation at Al Aqsa Mosque and Al Haram Al Sharif, government officials said Saturday.

Efforts led by His Majesty King Abdullah, who urged the government to take measures in the aftermath of Israel's temporal closure of Al Aqsa Mosque and a series of violations against the Jerusalemites, have paid off, said Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani and Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Khaled Kalaldeh in phone interviews with The Jordan Times Saturday, citing the opening of Al Aqsa Mosque for worshippers Friday without any age restrictions. 

On Friday, Israel lifted frequently imposed restrictions on Muslims entering Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem and more than 40,000 worshippers performed Friday prayers, according to media reports.

Friday’s opening of the mosque to male Muslims of all ages followed a three-way meeting in Amman between King Abdullah, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, according to a Royal Court statement, reasserted that Israel respects Jordan’s historic role in East Jerusalem, where Hashemite leaders have had historical custodial rights since 1924.  

The Israeli premier also stressed commitment to maintaining the status quo under which Jordan oversees the holy Islamic and Christian sites in the holy city.

During Thursday’s meeting, His Majesty emphasised Jordan’s stand on the situation in Jerusalem, reiterating a call on Tel Aviv to take practical steps to keep the situation there intact, especially at Al Aqsa Mosque and its vicinity.  

“Thanks to the King’s unyielding efforts, the mosque was opened to all. Jordan’s diplomacy relies on the use of international laws and norms and so Jordan’s action was well contemplated before any step was taken,” Kalaldeh said over the phone Saturday.

Earlier this month, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv to protest Israeli practices in the holy city, particularly the repeated violations of the sanctity of Al Haram Al Sharif compound, the third holiest shrine to Muslims all over the world. 

For his part, Momani emphasised Jordan’s position regarding the shrines, noting that Jordan’s historic custodianship over the holy sites was renewed through an agreement between His Majesty and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in March 2013, let alone that it is enshrined in the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Momani, who is also government spokesperson, said that in order to maintain the status quo in the holy city, the government would not spare any effort and will exercise pressure on all fronts.

The minister highlighted the diplomatic steps taken by Jordan including the recall of the Jordanian ambassador from Tel Aviv following the closure of Al Aqsa Mosque.

These included high-level direct contacts with Israeli officials upon directives by the King.

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