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Jordan to return envoy to Israel

By Khetam Malkawi , AFP - Feb 02,2015 - Last updated at Feb 02,2015

AMMAN — The Kingdom on Monday decided to send back the country’s ambassador to Israel to his post almost three months after he was called for consultations in protest of Israeli practices at Al Haram Al Sharif in Jerusalem. 

Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani said the decision was made after Jordan sensed improvement in the situation at the shrine, which is under Jordan’s custodianship. 

“We have noticed significant progress in Al Haram Al Sharif with the number of worshippers increasing,” Momani told The Jordan Times. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement in a statement issued by his office, Agence France-Presse reported. 

"This is an important step which reflects the common interests of Israel and Jordan, above all stability, security and peace," Netanyahu said. 

On November 4, Jordan recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv, Walid Obeidat, for consultations following an Israeli raid on Al Aqsa Mosque, the main component of the shrine, the third holiest place for Muslims.

The measure came in protest over Israel’s escalation and violations of the sanctity of the sanctuary.

Jordan also lodged a formal complaint with the UN Security Council over the Israeli violations.

Two days after the recall of Obeidat, His Majesty King Abdullah received a telephone call from Netanyahu during which he asserted Israel’s commitment to defusing tension and restoring calm to Jerusalem, especially at Al Aqsa Mosque and Al Haram Al Sharif compound.

Netanyahu asserted Israel’s respect of the Hashemite custodianship of the holy sites in Jerusalem and the historic role of Jordan, in pursuance of the Jordanian-Israeli peace agreement, expressing the Israeli government’s commitment not to alter the status quo at Al Haram Al Sharif and Al Aqsa Mosque. 

King Abdullah reiterated Jordan’s rejection of any Israeli measures that may threaten or undermine the sanctity of the holy mosque, endanger the shrine, or lead to changing the status quo of the holy site.

King Abdullah also hosted a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Israeli premier to cool rising tempers as a result of Israeli policies in Jerusalem, which Amman labelled as “provocative”. 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi joined over the phone.

During that meeting, Netanyahu reasserted Israel’s commitment to keeping the status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites without change… and respect Jordan’s Hashemite leaders’ historical role as custodians of holy sites in Jerusalem. 

After the three-way talks, Kerry said “firm commitments” had been made to maintain the status quo at holy sites in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

He said Israel and Jordan had also agreed to take steps to “de-escalate the situation” in Jerusalem and to “restore confidence”.

Israel reopened Al Aqsa after a rare closure, and on the first Friday that followed the meeting the occupation authorities allowed Muslims to attend the prayers without the customary age restriction.

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