Jordan has strongly denounced Israel for allowing “Zionist extremists” to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Israeli-occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.
Jordan’s Minister of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf (religious property) Wael Arabiyat on Monday warned that granting permission to radicals to enter at al-Aqsa was an act of “tyranny.”
The minister went on to say that such an action by Tel Aviv forces could spark a “religious war” across the region. “Pursuing such measures could spark a religious war in the region.”
Arabiyat also condemned the Israeli police for “arresting and beating” Muslim worshipers at the site.
Separately, in an interview published Monday by the semi-official Addustour newspaper, Jordan’s King Abdullah II also censured “repeated violations and transgressions by Israel and extremist groups and their blatant attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem.”
“We will persist in undertaking our religious and historical responsibilities towards al-Aqsa mosque…. which faces repeated violations by extremist groups,” Abdullah II said, adding, “As the Custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, I will continue my efforts to protect these places and stand up against all violations of their sanctity.”
According to the agreement signed between the Tel Aviv regime and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, visits to the compound by Jews are permitted but non-Muslim worship is prohibited.
The Israeli regime, however, regularly allows Jewish visitors to enter the site despite the deal.
The latest developments come after nearly 20 Palestinians were injured Sunday during clashes with Israeli forces at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Quds’ Old City.
Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshipers with batons to push them out of the compound after hundreds of Israeli settlers gathered there on the previous night to commemorate the Jewish fasting holy day of Ninth of Av.
Witnesses said over 300 Israeli settlers were performing rituals inside the compound in violation of an agreement that bars non-Muslims from acts of worship at the site. Israeli authorities claimed a group of “foreign and non-Muslim” visitors had entered the compound.
Muslims consider the trespass into the al-Aqsa Mosque yard as part of a Judaization campaign that targets the holy city of al-Quds and a provocation.
The occupied Palestinian territories have been the scene of heightened tensions since August 2015, when Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
More than 220 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October.
Growing diplomatic ties between Israel and some Arab states
The remarks by senior Jordanian officials come as Jordan and some other Arab states have maintained warming diplomatic relations with Israel.
Most Arab governments have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Even so, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv.
Back in May, Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva reported that Saudi Arabia and its allies, namely Jordan and Egypt – the only two Arab states with open ties with Israel – had been sending messages to Israel through various emissaries, including former British PM Tony Blair.