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Israel rejects new unarmed Waqf guards at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the Deputy Director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf [@PalEvePlus/Twitter]
Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the Deputy Director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf [@PalEvePlus/Twitter]

The appointment of new Palestinian Waqf guards at the Al-Aqsa Mosque is being rejected by Israel occupation authorities amid escalating tension in the compound during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Jordan-run Islamic Waqf urgently needs new security to oversee the compound and maintain the safety of Palestinian worshippers during the prayers.

According to Israel Hayom, a Palestinian official has been informed that Israel first requires a list of the guards' names to run them through a security check. However, the Islamic Waqf is refusing.

Israel's objection to the new guards comes after Jordan had notified Washington that it was ready to discuss the issue with Israel after the end of the holy month of Ramadan next week, reported Reuters.

READ: 'Israel occupation forbids increasing Al-Aqsa guards'

Jordan acts as a custodian of the sacred compound in Jerusalem as part of a joint agreement with Israel.

The aim would be to identify steps that the occupation state could take to return conditions at the Mosque to those of 22 years ago. The main issue the joint committee is expected to discuss is Jordan's request to expand the number of unarmed Waqf guards in the compound to better control the situation and prevent violence.

Shocking images of heavily-armed Israeli soldiers attacking worshippers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque have appeared on social media.

Jordan accuses Israel of having changed restrictions on worship at the Mosque gradually since 2000. The Kingdom insists that Israel is undermining a centuries-old tradition under which non-Muslims do not worship in the Mosque compound. Local sources said that Amman told Washington that Israel should end restrictions on the staffing of Islamic Waqf administration and let it manage all visits by non-Muslims and prevent them worshipping in the Mosque.

Israel denies accusations by Jordan and Arab states that it has tried to change the status quo of Muslim holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, which it has occupied since the 1967 Six Day War. It also says it is enforcing a long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the compound.

However, Jordan points out that Israel restricts access for Muslim worshippers and does not restrain far-right Israeli nationalists whose rituals violate the former status quo and, from an Islamic point of view, desecrate the holy site.

Last Friday, Israel banned non-Muslim visits until the end of Ramadan. This was a "good step towards respecting the status quo and easing tensions and restoring calm," Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, told Reuters.

READ: Jordan 'pushing to restore Al-Aqsa Mosque status quo'

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