Opinion

Jordanian control of the Temple Mount will destroy the ‘status quo’

Jordan is on a campaign to seize Jewish holy sites, including the Western Wall.

Tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Qadr Night (Laylat al-Qadr) during the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City, April 27, 2022. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.
Tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Qadr Night (Laylat al-Qadr) during the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem's Old City, April 27, 2022. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.
Farley Weiss
Farley Weiss is chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) and former president of the National Council of Young Israel.

If the Biden administration supports the “status quo” on the Temple Mount, why is it speaking in positive terms about Jordanian authority over the site? Jordan wants to end the “status quo” that allows Jews to visit the Mount and even opposes Jewish prayer at the Western Wall.

For example, on April 15, 2022, Palestinian Arabs on the Mount dropped stones on Jewish worshipers at the Wall 50 feet below. Following the incident, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh spoke to the Jordanian parliament. “I congratulate all Palestinians and all Jordanian Islamic Waqf workers who stand as tall as a turret and those who throw stones at pro-Zionists who defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said.

This was not the first such display in the Jordanian parliament. In March 2019, Jordanian MP Khalil Atiyeh stood up in parliament and saluted the 18-year-old terrorist who fatally stabbed 19-year-old IDF Sgt. Gal Keidan and shot and killed Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a father of 12. In July 2017, the Jordanian parliament praised the terrorists who carried out a shooting attack at the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli police officers. In Nov. 2014, the Jordanian parliament held a moment of silence for two Palestinian terrorists who were killed after slaughtering five people in an attack inside a Har Nof synagogue.

Such statements are consistent with Jordan’s antisemitic actions regarding Jewish holy sites. Jordan led the efforts to force UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to reclassify the Western Wall as a Muslim site. The same move was attempted regarding the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem. This was consistent with Jordan’s treatment of the burial site of Moses’ brother Aaron, located near Petra. Jordanian law prohibits Jewish prayer at the site. Clearly, Jordan is leading a coordinated campaign to erase Jewish holy sites throughout the region.

Meanwhile, Jordan is still providing a safe haven to terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who was involved in an Aug. 2001 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem restaurant that killed 15 people, including two U.S. citizens. Tamimi was indicted and put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, but Jordan has repeatedly refused U.S. extradition requests. So far, it has suffered no negative repercussions as a result.

Despite Jordan’s attempt to grab the Temple Mount and even the Western Wall for Islam, Muslims have themselves admitted that their claim to the Mount is based on a lie. In 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council published a guide to the Temple Mount for tourists. It said the site’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This too is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.’” Regarding Muslim rule over the Mount, which according to the guide began in 637 CE, the guide said, “In that year the Caliph Omar occupied Jerusalem” (emphasis added).

On Jan. 6, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. According to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Jordan, Blinken “underscored the importance of preserving the historic status quo at Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and expressed appreciation for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.”

The historical record is clear. It proves that Jordanian involvement in the administration of the Temple Mount would destroy the status quo on the site and lead to further discrimination against Jews. It could affect Jewish prayer at the Western Wall as well. The Biden administration should adopt a policy that seeks to decrease the power of the antisemitic Jordanian government over the Temple Mount rather than empower it to continue its racist campaign against Jewish rights at their most sacred sites.

Farley Weiss is chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) and former president of the National Council of Young Israel, as well as an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy. The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily representative of NCYI.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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