Jordan on Sunday rejected an Israeli court’s dramatic ruling in favor of three Jewish teenagers who bowed down and recited the “Shema Yisrael” prayer on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, warning it went against the international law.
“The decision allows extremists to hold ceremonies at Al-Aqsa compound,” read a statement released by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.
By praying at the site, the teens violated a longstanding but informal arrangement that states Jews are allowed to visit the site but not pray there.
“The decision is legally null and void under international law, which does not recognize the authority of the Israeli judicial system over the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem,” he said, adding that the decision “is a flagrant violation of international law”. decisions relating to Jerusalem, including resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council, all of which specify that the status quo must be maintained in the holy city.
The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the move a “serious violation of the historic status quo” and urged Washington “to intervene urgently to stop Israeli attacks on our people and their sanctity.”
In comments that also referred to the Israelis’ upcoming “flag march” through the Old City, Abbas’ office called on “our people to challenge and confront these attacks.”
The Hamas terror group said the decision “plays with fire by crossing all red lines, and constitutes a dangerous escalation for which the occupation leaders will bear the consequences.”
Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement clarifying that no changes were expected in the status quo on the mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“There is no change, and no change is expected, to the Temple Mount status quo,” the statement said. “The Magistrate Court’s decision focuses exclusively on the issue of the conduct of minors presented before it, and does not constitute a broader decision regarding freedom of worship on the Temple Mount. With respect to the criminal case in question, the government has been informed that the state will file an appeal in the district court. »
In his ruling on Sunday, Judge Zion Saharay said he did not consider bowing down and saying a prayer to be sufficient cause to restrict freedom of religion.
Saharay quoted Police Chief Kobi Shabtai in comments last May that officers would guarantee freedom of religion for “all residents of the country and territories” at the hotspot holy site.
But according to a Channel 12 report, police officials denied this, accusing the judge of misrepresenting Shabtai’s comments.
“The court’s decision is based on statements made by the police commissioner when in practice he was not talking about the Temple Mount,” an unnamed police official said.
“When the commissioner talks about freedom of worship, he is not referring to the Temple Mount, where the status quo determined by government policy and High Court decisions over the years is maintained,” the head of the ministry added. police. “This is a distorted interpretation of his remarks.”
The state attorney’s office said it would appeal Saharay’s decision.
The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, is the holiest site for Jews and the site of Islam’s third holiest shrine. It is the emotional epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions there helped spark the 11-day war in Gaza in May.
Jordan has long maintained that its treaties with Israel grant it custody of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem; while Israel has never accepted this claim, it grants day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount to the Jordanian-funded Waqf.
The agreement that Jews can visit the Mount without praying there has frayed in recent years as groups of Jews, including hardline religious nationalists, have regularly visited and prayed at the site. The Israeli government, however, says it is determined to maintain the status quo, despite reports that it turns a blind eye to Jews seeking to pray at the site.
During last month’s convergence of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover, the site saw almost daily clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters.
Heightened tensions in the capital prompted a harsh response from Jordan at the time, whose prime minister used unusually hostile language to condemn “Zionist sympathisers” and what he called the “government of ‘occupation’ of Israel. Jordanian King Abdullah criticized the Jewish state for allowing Jewish pilgrims to enter the site and called on the Israeli government to respect “the historical and legal status quo” there.