Jordan has rejected a proposal by the United States to mediate between Jordan and Israel over the reopening of the Bab Al-Rahma Mosque building, the International Crisis Group said in a report.
Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday that Jordan has rejected the American proposal as a result of the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there.
The group explained in its report that, four years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a recommendation by the National Security Council (NSC) to allow the Islamic Waqf to reopen the building as a goodwill gesture to the Jordanian government.
Over the past few years, Israel has rejected Jordan’s demands to reopen the building and use it as an institute to teach Islam.
According to the report, Palestinians fear that Israel plans to turn the building into a synagogue, warning that this could escalate the situation on the ground.
A number of Jordanian officials have also warned that the crisis over Al-Aqsa Mosque could escalate after the US administration publishes its anticipated peace plan, dubbed the “deal of the century”.
The Bab Al-Rahma Mosque was first closed by the Israeli authorities in 2003. In 2017, an Israeli court renewed the closure order.
In mid-February, Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run agency mandated with overseeing the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites) reopened the mosque following Palestinian protests.
In mid-March, an Israel court ruled that the mosque must be closed, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations.
In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians – including religious officials – from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world’s third holiest site.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.