The violence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount endangers the lives of Jews around the world and places Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan in jeopardy, the ambassador to Jordan, Daniel Nevo, said on Monday. Nevo was speaking during an event at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement for Peace marking the 20th anniversary of the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.
There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world who can be riled just by hearing that Jews are penetrating the Aksa Mosque. Even if such reports are false, he said. “What they care about is that some of the Imams will say the Jews are conquering or penetrating Al-Aksa and that it is enough to put every Israeli and Jew around the world in jeopardy,” he explained. “It is enough to put the peace treaty with Jordan in jeopardy.”
Jordan’s ambassador to Israel, Walid Obeidat, had also been scheduled to speak but was recalled to Amman to protest Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount. All other Jordanians who had been scheduled to appear also canceled. The situation is fragile and sensitive, Nevo said. He explained that 11 million people live in Jordan, of which seven million are Jordanians. The majority of these Jordanians, or 65 percent, are of Palestinian origin.
The ambassador added that Jordanian King Abdullah II has a personal interest in the Temple Mount, known in the Arab world as al-Haram al-Sharif, because he sees himself as the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites. “Anything that happens in Israel has an immediate impact on Jordanian society,” Nevo said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past week issued a number of public statements assuring the Arab world and the international community that Israel plans to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount. This means that the Aksa Mosque compound will remain under the control of the Wakf Muslim religious trust and that Muslims have the sole right to worship there, although Jews and Christians can visit.
But in the past few months, visits to the Temple Mount by right-wing Israeli politicians, including calls for Israel to impose sovereignty over the site and allow Jews to pray there, has received much media attention. Nevo said that Jordanians believe Netanyahu supports these visits. “They see it as an act done in coordination with the prime minister,” he said. Jordanians, he went on, “do not give a damn” about Israeli attempts to restore peace and quiet. “The Jordanians are not watching Channel 2. They are watching Al Jazeera,” he stated. “We have to take precautions to do our utmost to maintain the peace and the quiet in al-Haram al-Sharif. This can be the explosion of everything.”
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who also appeared at the event, said he hoped Jordan would return its ambassador soon. The situation in the Middle East, and in Israel and the Palestinian territories, presented some of the most unsettling combinations of challenges the region has faced in many years, Shapiro said. He noted that Netanyahu and Abdullah had spoken and were seeking ways to deescalate the situation. Direct contact was essential to manage the crisis, he said, adding that the current tensions would be more difficult to handle without the safety net of American-sponsored peace agreements and the prospects of future negations. “President Obama and his administration are constantly striving to identify new opportunities, to nurture, sustain and expand peace in this region,” Shapiro said.