White House 'Very Concerned' Over Temple Mount Tensions

U.S. calls on Israel, Jordan to maintain status quo that has been site of clashes since deadly attack ■ Fatah member says U.S. pressuring Israel to compromise

Israeli policemen secure the scene of the shooting attack at Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on July 14, 2017.
AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

The White House voiced its concerns on Wednesday night regarding the recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, calling on Israel and Jordan to find a solution to the strained situation at the site. 

In a statement released to the press, the White House called upon Israel and Jordan to assure public safety at the site and to maintain the status quo there.

After the attack last Friday in which policemen Hael Sathawi and Kamil Shanan were killed, police closed the Temple Mount to Muslims and cancelled Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. On Sunday the police decided to open the Mount compound once again, but insisted that the Muslim worshipers pass through metal detectors stationed at the entrances. This decision prompted clashes with worshipers arriving at the site, who saw the placement of metal detectors as a change to the status quo,  as well tensions with Jordan.

"The United States is very concerned about tensions surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, a site holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and calls upon the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo," the statement said. "The United States will continue to closely monitor the developments."

Palestinian legislative council member Hatem Abdel Qader from Jerusalem told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States are applying pressure on Israel to remove the metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount.

The compromise proposed by the United States, according to the report, is to remove the metal detectors and only search those people who arouse suspicions. The Palestinians are willing consider such a proposal in which specific, suspicious people and bags are checked but not everyone entering the Temple Mount, said Adbel Qader. 

Last Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Jordan's King Abdullah. According to a Jordanian news agency, the king stressed to Netanyahu the importance of restoring calm to the Temple Mount and emphasized the need to prevent any escalation following the attack. The king asked Netanyahu to reopen the Temple Mount to worshipers and underlined that the attack should not be exploited to undermine stability and harm security.