Israel Tells Jordan, Palestinians It Wants to Avoid Temple Mt. Escalation During Holidays

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Israeli border police officers walk in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem.
Israeli border police officers walk in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem.Credit: REUTERS

A senior Israeli official conveyed a message to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in the past few days, saying that Israel was committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and is interested in avoiding an escalation during the upcoming Jewish and Muslim holiday season.

The senior official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting in preparation for the holidays with the heads of Israel's security establishment.

"The main message in the meeting was that Israel is committed to keeping the status quo on the Temple Mount and is interested in keeping the peace during the holidays," the official said. "Israel conveyed allaying messages in that spirit to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in advance of the holidays."

Over the last week, Likud activist Yehuda Glick visited the Temple Mount several times. Glick's visits were followed by an official protest submitted by the Jordanian government to the Israeli Embassy in Amman. The senior official stated that Israel will not limit visiting to the Temple Mount, except in the case of Israeli minsters and members of parliament – whether Jewish or Arab. At the government meeting Sunday, Netanyahu stressed the ban on ministers visiting the Temple Mount, explaining that it is aimed at avoiding unnecessary tensions.

"Israel will not accept disturbances and provocations aimed at igniting unrest in this sensitive place," the official said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Office's public diplomacy arm is attempting to reach the Palestinian public and the public in the Arab nations through social media. In addition, Major General Yoav Mordechai, the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, gave interviews to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an and Saudi news network Elaph, in which he stressed Israel's calming message on the Temple Mount.

A report published earlier this week revealed the details of the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Jordan with regard to the Temple Mount. According to the report, published by the International Crisis Group, Netanyahu promised Jordan’s King Abdullah II, that he would stop Israeli politicians from visiting the site and will reduce the number of religious Jews visiting it.

According to police figures, meanwhile, 2015 was the first year in the last five years that in which the number of Jewish visitors dropped. The number of clashes dropped as well.

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