The Jordanian Foreign Ministry summoned on Sunday Israel’s ambassador to the country for a reprimand over last week’s clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound when Jewish worshipers were allowed on the site to mark Tisha B’Av, which coincided with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, reports Haaretz.
According to spokesman Sufian Qudah, the ministry’s Secretary-General Zaid Lozi asked Israeli envoy Amir Weissbrod to relay a letter to the Israeli government, in which Amman demands an immediate cessation of “Israeli violations” and any attempts to change the status quo on the holy site.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Ambassador Weissbrod had been summoned for a reprimand.
Qudah also said that during the meeting, Jordan harshly criticized calls by Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to change the status quo and allow Jews to pray at the compound, too.
Erdan told Israeli 90FM radio on Tuesday that “there is injustice in the status quo there that has been in place since 1967, and we need to act to change it so that Jews in the future can pray on the Temple Mount… We should operate to get to a point when Jews can also pray there. But we need to achieve it through political agreements, and not by force.”
Violent clashes erupted between Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshipers last Sunday. The altercations began when forces confronted Muslim worshipers commemorating Eid al-Adha, and escalated after the Israel Police had decided in a rare move to allow Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa to mark Tisha B’Av.
The site has long been a flashpoint between Jews, who marked the destruction of the First and Second Temple and consider Al-Aqsa the holiest site in Judaism, and Muslims who consider the site the third holiest after Mecca and Medina.
The Al-Aqsa status quo sometimes shifts, but in practice, the complex has been closed over the past few years during Eid al-Adha and all other Muslim holidays.
Jordan, whose Waqf body is the custodian of the holy site, was quick to denounce Erdan’s Tuesday comments. A statement released by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry read: “The Kingdom of Jordan rejects declarations of this kind and warns against any move that could change the situation and the historic, legal status quo.”
The ministry also warned against “the dangerous repercussions of such a change,” noting that Israel ought to uphold its commitment to respect the current situation on the Al-Aqsa.
This Sunday’s letter adds on to another one sent to Israel last week, saying “Jordan harshly rejects Israel’s conduct” on the Al-Aqsa, “which only inflames rage and frustration and its provocations of [Muslim] worshipers on the first day of the Feast of the Sacrifice,” referring to Eid al-Adha in its English name.
Clashes erupted last Sunday around 9:30 am after worshipers finished their prayers. Police forces reportedly fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters after they claimed the worshipers began hurling objects at officers and yelling “nationalistic remarks.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 61 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, with 15 evacuated to nearby hospitals. Police reported that four officers lightly wounded in the clashes. Seven people were arrested, the Israeli police said.
According to Erdan, 1,700 Jews were allowed to enter the compound.