Just days after the most right-wing Israeli government was sworn in, one of the most extremist and far-right ministers, Itamar Ben-Gvir, stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
By doing so, Ben-Gvir fulfilled his pledges to the far-right Israeli voters that he would challenge everyone to make the site a purely Jewish one regardless of the sentiments of Palestinians and Muslims.
It is alleged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked Ben-Gvir to put off his plan to storm the Muslim holy site out of fear of the Palestinian, regional and international backlash from such a move. However, Israeli sources believe they agreed to simply postpone the desecration of the site.
Defending Ben-Gvir, an official in Netanyahu’s office said the minister was allowed in the courtyards of the mosque as this complies with an arrangement that allows non-Muslims to visit but not pray in the Mosque. Claiming that Netanyahu is committed to the decades-old status quo allowing only Muslim worship at Al-Aqsa.
“Claims of a change in the status quo are groundless,” insisted Netanyahu’s office, pointing out that Ben-Gvir’s act was carried out in order to prove that no one dictates to Israel what to do. “Hamas will not dictate what we shall do,” the official from Netanyahu’s office said.
Ben-Gvir’s actions drew fierce criticism from across the political Palestinian spectrum, Arab and Muslim world and a strong rebuke from the United States and Tel Aviv’s other allies.
Jordan , the custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian sites, issued strong condemnation. “Provocative practices, which usher in more tension in the region, must immediately stop,” Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament, Ahmad Al-Safadi, said. “Such desecration and infringement of this holy site are not acceptable,” he added.
Jordanian MPs even called for expelling the Israeli ambassador to Amman in response to “Israel’s disrespect for Muslims’ holy places.” The Jordanian MPs accused the Israeli occupation of intentionally provoking Arabs and Muslims, stating that this policy aims to change the status quo of the holy city.
One MP went as far as threatening to kill the Israeli minister if he repeated his desecration of the Islamic holy site. “Today, we respond with stances, but soon, with bullets,” MP Yanal Fraihat was reported saying by Quds Press. Another MP, Khalil Atiyyeh, said: “Jordan has a 300-kilometre border with Palestine,” adding that it will explode in the face of the Israeli occupation if its violations do not stop.
MP Saleh Al-Armouti said: “Ben-Gvir defied the Jordanian position. Summoning the Israeli ambassador is not enough, he must be expelled.” But all these are just empty words, no action will be taken by Amman.
It is true that, during an interview with CNN last month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Amman was ready to fight Israel if Tel Aviv wanted this, but he reiterated that he was willing to work with Israel’s new far-right government. “I always like to believe that ‘let’s look at the glass half full.’ But we have set red lines, and if people want to push those red lines, then we will deal with that,” he said.
The Israeli occupation has been killing Palestinians, demolishing their homes and deporting them for decades. It has been Judaising Jerusalem since 1967 and Jordan’s respected parliament has done nothing. When will it act?
What are the king’s red lines? If Jordan’s sovereignty and national security are of great interest to him, then what happens when they are challenged? Is not Jerusalem not under his custodianship? Its endowment administration (the Waqf) is a branch of Jordan’s Ministry of Endowment.
Ben-Gvir has carried out his pledge to storm Al-Aqsa and will do it again, when will Jordan carry out its promise?
Have the king and his parliament heard that Israel seeks to demolish Al-Aqsa to make way for a Jewish temple? Have they heard the calls of extremist Jewish groups for ritual slaughter to be carried out in the mosque’s grounds to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover?
There is a lot Jordan can do to deter such attacks on these holy sites; Amman has an Israeli ambassador, great commercial relations with the occupation state, gas deals and many other deals it can sever before starting an armed conflict with Tel Aviv or using bullets to kill Ben Gvir.
You only need to turn your empty words into actions.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.