Israel Slams 'Agitation, False News' After Jordan Summons Envoy Over Al-Aqsa Violence

Lapid's Foreign Ministry hits back with a harshly worded response after Jordan reprimanded the Israeli envoy for 'violations' at Al-Aqsa ■ UN Security Council to convene Tuesday to discuss escalating situation in Jerusalem

Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Sunday.
Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Sunday.Credit: Mahmoud Illean/AP

Jordan's Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned Israel's envoy to receive a letter from the government demanding an "immediate stop to violations" on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sparking outrage in Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also said that Jordan will host an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers on Thursday to discuss the "Israeli escalation," which included a rare incursion by Israeli security personnel into Al-Aqsa Mosque itself and led to scores of Palestinians being injured.

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Speaking to parliament on Monday, Jordanian Prime Minister Bishar al-Hassuna also hailed Palestinians "who throw stones at Zionist forces defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

King Abdullah’s Hashemite monarchy has been custodian of the sites since 1924, paying for their upkeep and deriving part of its legitimacy from the role. It has specifically condemned Israeli authorities for letting Jewish worshipers on the site. Under longtime understandings, Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount but are barred from praying there.

After political sources said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was weighing how to respond, the ministry released a statement accusing Jordan of "undermining efforts to establish peace in Jerusalem and giving impetus to those who violate the sanctity of the holidays."

Clashes on the Temple Mount on Friday.Credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

The statement specifically condemned al-Hassuna's praise of stone-throwing, and said that it expected its allies to act responsibly, instead of "agitating" and "spreading false news."

While Jordan's parliament is considered a hostile arena for Israel, the comments of al-Hassuna's, who is considered to be close to Jordan's king, crossed a line for Israeli officials.

After the Jordanian response, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emphasized on Monday that "Israel is doing everything it can so that everyone, as always, can celebrate the holidays safely – Jews, Muslims, and Christians," and called on "everyone not to join in the lies and certainly not to encourage violence against Jews."

In a more forthcoming video address, Bennett said that he takes "seriously the statements that accuse Israel of violence directed at us, and those who encourage the throwing of stones and the use of violence against the citizens of the State of Israel."

Palestinians shout slogans at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday.Credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar also slammed the remarks made by senior Jordanian officials as feeding "attempts by extremist and terrorist elements, such as Hamas, to ignite the territory through a false anti-Israel campaign."

Israeli officials have also said that Hamas last week was running provocative propaganda designed to stir up rage around the Temple Mount compound. Hamas' "incitement machine," said a senior Israeli official, ran a campaign on "the sacrificing of victims" by Jews on the Temple Mount, distributed via posters and social media posts.

Officials assessed that Hamas realized the campaign was a win-win for it: The "best" outcome would be the igniting of riots in Jerusalem and hte West Bank, while in the "worst" case Hamas would simply resonate with the Palestinian public and bolster public sympathy for it.

The campaign resonated strongly at Al Jazeera's offices, and Israel approached Qatar via several channels in an attempt to impact the messages broadcast over that network.

Jordan's King Abdullah said on Monday that Israel's "unilateral" moves against Muslim worshippers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque seriously undermined the prospects for peace in the region, state media said.

The monarch, who was speaking with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, blamed Israel for "provocative acts" in the mosque compound that violated "the legal and historic status quo" of the Muslim holy shrines. The UN Security Council will convene on Tuesday to discuss the escalation in Jerusalem.

In a series of recent visits by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, all agreed on the importance of keeping the peace at the current time.

The Jordanian response to the recent unrest on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound therefore came as a surprise to Israel, says an Israeli government source.

"We do not want to burn it all down," said an Israeli government source. "Our relationship with Jordan is very good, but there is a limit. You can't reactively praise stone-throwing against Israeli police officers who are working to allow the Mount to be opened for prayer."

On Sunday, Israeli security forces clashed with a number of Palestinians near Lion's Gate in the Old City, leaving 17 wounded according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. The clashes came after Friday's flare-up on the Temple Mount, where more than 150 Palestinians were injured and 400 arrested for "rioting and disturbing public order" at the holy site.

The clashes constitute the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to a wider conflict.

The Temple Mount, located in Jerusalem's Old City, is the third holiest in Islam and the holiest for Jews. It has long been a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence.

While the kingdom has a peace deal with Israel and maintains strong security ties, many Jordanians resent Israel and identify with the Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

Over 87 deputies in the country's 130-member parliament called on the government on Monday to scrap the country's unpopular peace deal.

Sporadic protests across the country have sprung up in the last few days in solidarity with the Palestinians.

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