More than 4.5 million refugees have fled Syria and are to be found in five host countries: Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.
Kerry also discussed the Syria crisis with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Saturday morning in London, prior to his trip to Jordan.
State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a briefing the two men discussed efforts to broker a partial cease-fire in Syria, and ways to get humanitarian aid to civilians trapped and starving in villages and towns that are still under siege.
Jordan is demanding that Israel “return jurisdiction” over part of the Western Wall to the Islamic Waqf controlled by Amman.
The demand followed the decision by the Israeli government last week to set aside the southernmost section of the Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch, as a place for mixed-gender prayer. Jordan refers to the same place as the “Umayyad Palaces.”
Jordan contends that the decision violates the jurisdiction of the Waqf Islamic Authority over Jerusalem’s holy places, an agreement made between the two countries in 1967.
On Saturday, Jordanian Minister of Communications and Media Affairs Muhammad Momani “urged Israel not to meddle with the Umayyad Palaces area and to ensure its return under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian Jerusalem Waqf Department, which is the entity responsible for administering and safeguarding the site,” the Jordan news agency Petra reported in the Jordan Times.
“Israeli occupation forces have recently settled internal differences among followers of different Jewish sects at the expense of the area of the Umayyad Palaces,” Petra said.
“Israeli occupation forces had decided to expand a platform to allow more Jewish worshippers into the area. The violation against the Umayyad Palaces is the latest in a long series of assaults and violations against the site. Occupation forces have carried out several excavation works there, destroying Arab and Islamic heritage,” Petra added on behalf of Jordan’s government.
Israel’s government approved plans last week to expand the Western Wall plaza in order to accommodate the increasing demands for non-Orthodox prayer at the site. A small wooden platform at Robinson’s Arch has already been set up for mixed-gender prayer.
Jordan’s lamentation over Israeli “occupation” is a bit spurious, given the Hashemite tenure itself as custodian over parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria lasted only from 1948 to 1967 – a total of 31 years.
Jerusalem has long since been reunited and whole for a period much longer than that: June 2017 will mark half a century since the restoration of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and elsewhere in Jerusalem and the Land to the Jewish State of Israel.
However, to be fair, the dismay of the Hashemite Kingdom over the compromise over non-Orthodox prayer allowed by the government is also reflected among some Muslims in Israel and ironically is shared with some observant Jews locally and globally as well.
Mixed-gender prayer has never been allowed at the Western Wall – in fact, historically it was not allowed in either Holy Temple. In Torah law, women are not counted among a minyan (quorum) of men.
Not that this grants validity to the Jordanian claim of authority and hopes to win Waqf control of the site, which is more of a simple attempt at another political territory grab.
The Umayyad Palaces were two buildings which archaeologists say were built by the Umayyads who ruled for a period of 100 years in the late seventh century. They were destroyed in an earthquake and lay buried until they were unearthed by Israeli archaeologists in a 1970s excavation, creating a public history park to educate all.
The Western Wall is part of Judaism’s most sacred site on the planet, the Temple Mount, located alongside. The site is also the third holiest in Islam. The Wall is part of the outer retaining wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, its sole material remnant that has survived throughout the centuries. In Islam, it is believed that the prophet Mohammed rose up to Heaven on his mighty steed el-Buraq from a site near the Western Wall.
In Judaism, it is believed that somewhere on the grounds of the Temple Mount lies the site of the “Holy of Holies” of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem – the inner sanctum where the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) communed with G-d Himself during sacrifices and services. No one other than the Kohen Gadol was ever allowed to enter this place, and to this day countless rabbis forbid Jews to tread upon the Temple Mount grounds for fear of erroneously entering this area.
The Israeli government does not allow Jews to pray within the Temple Mount in accordance with a status quo agreement with the Jordanian Waqf. Within the Temple Mount grounds are built the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims are allowed to pray.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has stepped up to intervene in the groundswell of Arab terror aimed at Jews that if not halted, could become a tsunami to drown Arab-Israeli relations for decades.
In a response to a statement made by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend, the Hashemite monarch “welcomed” the initiative and said he believed it would help end the violence.
“I heard the statements made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his affirmation of his commitment to uphold the status quo. This is a commitment that we welcome very much here and we hope to see that those commitments are implemented on the ground,” the monarch said.
“I believe that this would allow the violence to end, to decrease the tension and I hope will allow a resumption of efforts to readdress the core issues through negotiations because this is an issue that has to be dealt with as quickly as possible,” he added.
Netanyahu said in his statement on Saturday night that Israel would install security cameras at the Temple Mount. At the Sunday morning cabinet meeting, the prime minister reiterated Israel would continue to maintain the status quo at the Temple Mount, and “welcomes coordination” at the site with Jordan.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry added his own stamp of approval, supporting the installation of CCTV cameras to record events at the Temple Mount 24/7. The idea did not make local Israeli Arab leaders happy.
King Abdullah’s intervention is a positive contribution to a very complicated picture, one in which local Arabs are once again digging themselves into a great big pit of self-destruction.
Moreover, not only is Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas not doing anything to stop the incitement and terror himself: he is, in fact, ahead of the pack and leading the terrorists.
The unbridled, undisciplined “makeshift kitchen cabinet attacks” by the inspired, unthinking and passionate Arab teens and young adults are the culmination of decades of careful planning and methodical brainwashing curricula formulated by Abbas.
It was Abbas, with a PhD doctorate, who carefully directed the creation of television and radio programs for children, teens and adults; and photos and articles via print and digital media; to further craft and reinforce the message of hatred and purging the land of Jews.
Abbas, who approved and applauded public ceremonies to name important landmarks after those who murdered Israelis and carried out deadly terror attacks.
Abbas, who made sure the schools reinforced that message from the youngest grades through university, in textbooks and in the classrooms and in every extra-curricular activity.
Abbas blessed “every drop of blood, clean blood, pure blood, spilled in Jerusalem.” Abbas, who would like to survive the next assassination attempt by Hamas. He knows a good offense is the best defense.
The Hashemite monarch, meanwhile, has every reason in the world to invest his energies in quelling the current unrest across his border.
Jordan can ill afford unrest in Israel with a savage Da’esh (ISIS) sitting on three of its four borders, and the Jewish State the only local ally close enough to help fend off the barbarians, save Egypt and the U.S.
Unlike Israel, the U.S. is unlikely to put boots on the ground to meet that challenge, and Egypt is already at capacity fighting ISIS itself.
Israel, however, is willing and able to deal with the threat of radical Islamic terror in whatever form it must, in order to end it, for the most important reason of all: The threat of radical Islam that faces Jordan, faces Israel as well.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan dropped the other shoe Monday in a letter calling on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to outlaw two Muslim radical groups from the Temple Mount.
The Palestinian Authority called Edan’s proposal “racist.”
The right of Jews to ascend the Temple Mount, as stated in the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty, has been under threat by increasingly violent Muslims who are paid to harass and attack Jews at the holy site.
Daily violence and the unprecedented action of Jerusalem policy facing off against Muslims who barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa mosque last year threatened to erupt into an all-out war until Jordanian King Abdullah and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met in Amman and took measures to cool things down.
Access to Jews was allowed, but the government made it clear that Cabinet ministers may not visit the Temple Mount.
The unwritten agreement held ground for several months until radical Muslim re-asserted their presence with men and women paid by the Islamic Movement to visit the holy site with the sole purpose of chasing and attacking Jews.
A visiting Christian was attacked last week, and Palestinian Authority and Arab world media have escalated incitement with constant reports that police escort settlers to “storm” the Temple Mount.
Erdan decided enough is enough and wrote to Ya’alon letter, which he said is supported by the police and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), to outlaw the “Morabiton” and “Morabitat” radical Muslims groups.
These organizations follow Jewish visits to the Temple Mount and yell, incite and block them. Their aim is to use violence and intimidation to stop Jews from trying to visit the Temple Mount, and I will do everything I can to stop these dangerous organizations that violate the status quo.
The damage, partly irreversible, caused by the Israel’s government’s turning a blind eye to Muslim violence while limiting Jewish visitors is reflected in statements made by the Al Aqsa NGO, whose official told Reshet Bet (Voice of Israel) radio Monday:
We have seen an increase in visits to the Temple Mount by fanatics and criminal Jews who cause provocations.
Israel violates the status quo (by allowing Jews to visit]. Israel is not allowed to maintain security on the Temple Mount.
It is occupied territory under international law. Israel has occupied it since 1967.
Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount is within the “consensus” of almost all Israeli Jews, so much so that even the interviewer for the leftist and pluralistic Reshet Bet charged the Muslim official with lying. He also continuous questioned the Al Aqsa official about Muslims who attack Jews, but the only response was a repetition that the Temple Mount is not a part of Israel.
Jordanian King Abdullah II has cut short a state visit to the United States and flown back to Amman in response to the release of a video showing the execution by ISIS of a captive Jordanian pilot by burning him to death.
“His Majesty the King, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has cut short his visit to the United States after the news of the martyrdom of the hero pilot,” state-run television announced Tuesday evening.
The video by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ran for 20 minutes and was an elaborate production that culminated in 26-year-old Muath al-Kasaesbeh being placed in a metal cage.
Gasoline was poured in a trail leading up to and into the cage, and set alight. In moments, Kasaesbeh’s body became a living torch.
Jordan has returned its ambassador to Israel three months after recalling him to Amman because of Jewish activists on the Temple Mount, which promoted daily violence by Arabs.
International media tried to explain that a spree of grisly Arab terrorist attacks on Jews was a result of Muslim anger over Jews on the Temple Mount.
Mohammad al-Momani, the Jordanian government spokesman, told The New York Times that there has been a “significant improvement” in coordination with Israel for Muslims to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, and with Muslim clerics for tourists and Jews to visit the holy site.
“We felt the message was heard loud and clear, and it is time for the ambassador to go back and to continue following Jordanian interests,” Momani told the newspaper.
The envoy, Walid Obeidat, arrived in Tel Aviv Monday night.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated, “This is an important step that reflects the shared interests of Israel and Jordan and first among them, stability, security and peace.”
Daily violence on the Temple Mount three months ago was only the climax of years of anti-Israeli incitement at mosques and in media in the Arab world, including the Palestinian Authority.
Constant reports that Jewish civilians and soldiers “stormed” the Temple Mount, plotting to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque and build the Third Temple were destined to cause a volcanic eruption.
It burst approximately three months ago with Muslims rioting on a daily basis and making it virtually impossible for Jews to visit the Temple Mount, which police often closed off to Jews.
Attempts by Jews to pray at the holy site, forbidden by Muslim authorities, and visits by Knesset Members infuriated Muslims.
U.S. Secretary of State, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah met in Amman in an unannounced meeting, which paved the way for a return to calm on the Temple Mount.
All of a sudden, two Cabinet ministers announced that Knesset Members should not visit the Temple Mount.
At the same time, Arab media stopped telling readers that Jews are “invading” the Temple Mount and digging tunnels to undermine the Al Aqsa mosque
Nothing was put in writing in Jordan, but it can be assumed that Netanyahu promised that Jews will not pray there.
As previously reported here and here, the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty specifically provides for mutual respect for worship at the holy site.
As with most treaties between Israel and the Arab world, they simply are the basis for future arguments.
Jordan has recalled its ambassador from Israel for “consultations” — and to protest the closure of the Temple Mount in connection with Arab violence spreading across Jerusalem.
According to the official Jordanian Petra news agency, Amman recalled its ambassador over “the unprecedented and escalated Israeli aggressions” at the Temple Mount, and “repeated violations in the holy city.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was set to meet today (Wednesday, Nov. 5) with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris to discuss the situation, officials said in Amman.
Jordanian officials also told journalists they intended to file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council.
Under its peace treaty with Israel, Jordan was given custodianship of the Muslim holy sites, according to former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali.
The retired official told i24news that he was the one who signed the 1994 peace treaty brokered by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, together with King Hussein and former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington D.C.
Any violation of the status quo would be met with a harsh response from Amman, al-Majali told the Tel Aviv-based television network.