The Jordanian foreign ministry has blasted Israeli authorities after police failed to stop a group of orthodox Jews bursting into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Daifallah Al-Fayez, a spokesman from the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Expatriates, claimed the failure to prevent the breach represents a “stark violation” of a historic and legal status quo.
On Sunday, dozens of people, reportedly comprising Jewish settlers, broke into the holy site while celebrating the Jewish festival of Purim. Some of the intruders were seen dressed in colorful costumes, drinking alcohol and dancing in and around the mosque, according to footage shared online.
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In a statement, Al-Fayez called on Israel to recognize the authority of the Jordanian and Palestinian-led Islamic Waqf, which is in charge of the mosque’s administration, and saying the department is the only legal body responsible for authorizing entry to the holy site.
It was also reported on Friday that Israeli forces had placed military barricades at the entrances of the Old City of Jerusalem, obstructing Palestinian worshippers from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque.
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The criticism from Amman comes after Israeli defense minister and main political rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, held an unannounced meeting with the Jordanian monarch last Friday.
Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, has insisted Israel must attempt to improve relations with Jordan. “I think our relationship with Jordan could be a thousand times better. Unfortunately, Netanyahu is an unwanted figure in Jordan, and his presence harms the two countries’ relations,” Gantz said.
Israel’s relations with Arab nations improved greatly during the last year of former US President Donald Trump’s administration, but Netanyahu’s renewed settlement plans have drawn criticism from across the Middle East.
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