Photo Credit: Joint Committee for Temple Movements
A screaming Jordanian Waqf official harassing Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. February 2018.

Six Hamas-backed Waqf guards were removed from the Temple Mount, and 12 new Waqf positions were manned, “all within the existing standards, without any increase,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.

Israel has not agreed to expand the Jordanian Waqf’s staff on the Temple Mount and “all decisions on the Temple Mount will be made by the Israeli government out of considerations of sovereignty,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett claimed Monday.

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Bennett was responding to reports that Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev and the police have agreed to Jordan’s demand to increase the Waqf’s power on the Temple Mount.

Jordan has reportedly demanded an additional 50 Waqf personnel to operate on the Temple Mount. Barlev has reportedly demanded that the Waqf members who support Hamas be removed from the compound.

Bennett’s office claimed Tuesday that “this is an event that took place about a month and a half ago. A Jordanian request was received to increase the Waqf presence on the Temple Mount by 50 guards but Israel did not find it appropriate to accede to the request.”

In practice, six Hamas-backed Waqf guards were removed from the Temple Mount, and 12 new Waqf positions were manned, “all within the existing standards, without any increase,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.

“There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount – Israel’s sovereignty has been preserved,” Bennett asserted.

“All decisions on the Temple Mount will be made by the Israeli government out of considerations of sovereignty, freedom of religion and security, and not out of pressure from foreign or political factors,” he underscored.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Jan. 5, 2022

The Waqf also responded to the reports and “emphasized that the sole responsibility and authority for the appointment of guards and employees is reserved for the Waqf, which is in Jerusalem without any involvement of any factor, including the Israeli occupation government.”

“Since 2016, our office has appointed more than 70 new guards, but the conduct of the Israel Police in the field is an obstacle for the employees to join their work,” the Waqf claimed.

The Waqf “is the only entity that sponsors the Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is a place exclusive to Muslims and cannot be shared with anyone else,” it underscored, apparently calling for the banning of Jews from the Temple Mount.

King Abdullah II of Jordan is in the US to enlist the help of President Joe Biden to put pressure on Israel to agree to Jordan’s demands on the Temple Mount compound.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.