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Israeli-Jordanian tensions over breaches of Wadi Araba Treaty

February 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm

A report by the state-owned Jordanian News Agency, yesterday confirmed “acute tensions” in Jordanian-Israeli relations caused by Tel Aviv’s failure to fulfil its obligations under the Wadi Araba Peace Treaty.

Next Friday marks the treaty’s eighteenth anniversary. The agency’s report published on its website stated that the Arab caucus at UNESCO had supported a Jordanian statement, which includes a strongly-worded condemnation of the on-going Israeli attacks against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Moroccan Gate and holy sites in occupied east Jerusalem.

Last Thursday, UNESCO postponed a vote on a Jordanian-Palestinian statement, condemning Israel through its executive council. Jordanian sources attributed this development to the “sudden assistance” afforded to Israel by Russia and other countries such as Syria and Brazil.

In the statement, Amman expressed “deep regret at Israel’s continued prevention of Jordanian endowment experts from playing their role in looking after mosques; from reaching the Marwani Mosque accompanied by their basic material and equipment to carry out, for example, maintenance and repair work; from installing important equipment in Al-Haram Al-Sharif, such as equipment for the fire-combat system, in addition to other key projects that are delayed as a result of Israeli practices.”

The statement also highlighted the excavation and construction work carried out by the Israeli authorities on the road to the Moroccan Gate, despite several UNESCO resolutions which described these activities as unilateral and arbitrary aimed at changing the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In a related matter, the Jordanian statement further denounced the encouragement given by the Israeli authorities to extremist Jewish groups that storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis. These extremist groups perform Talmudic rituals, provoke Muslim worshipers and prevent them from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque in a clear violation of the occupation’s responsibilities under international humanitarian law and in a public attempt to change the status quo in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Since the beginning of 2012, organized groups of soldiers have been allowed to enter the mosque on a daily basis in their military uniforms. This terrifies worshipers and is considered a flagrant challenge to the most basic international norms. The Jordanian authorities have warned that these Israeli violations could trigger unimaginable confrontations, especially given that they are not just breaches of international obligations, but flagrant religious aggression.