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Jordan, Jerusalemites insist on Al-Aqsa status quo

Palestinian worshippers, who refuse to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque compound due to Israel’s new security measures, pray near a main entrance to the religious site in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Sunday. (AP)

AMMAN: The general director of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, has called on Israel to abide by existing understandings and the need to preserve the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The Jordanian Waqf authorities in Amman, the office of King Abdallah and the people of Jerusalem reject any changes to the status quo, Al-Khatib said.
Israel has “unilaterally set up four metal detectors at Lion’s Gate and two at Al-Majles Gate, which is a total violation of the status quo,” he told Arab News.
He added that his staff — comprising more than 300 male and female guards, preachers, muezzins, museum staff and other civil servants working in the mosque — refuse to pass through metal detectors.
“This is our mosque, we’re entrusted to guard it and we won’t accept Israeli impositions on it,” Al-Khatib said.
An attempt to bring in a coffin to be prayed over was halted because Israeli authorities insisted on having the coffin go through metal detectors.
While the call to prayer was made Sunday after the mosque’s 48-hour closure by Israel, most worshippers chose to pray beyond Israeli checkpoints rather than go through the metal detectors.
The Israelis “gave us all the keys (to the mosque gates) except the Lion’s Gate keys, which they’ll give us soon,” Al-Khatib said.
“We’ve changed over 50 locks, and we’ve set up a supervisory committee that will oversee the process of documenting if any materials have been taken or damaged during the 48 hours when we lost control over our own mosque.”
He credited King Abdallah’s call to Israel’s prime minister with the gradual reopening of the mosque.
“As a result of the call by his majesty, there were no gender or age restrictions as to who’s allowed entry to the mosque,” Al-Khatib said.
A 2014 understanding between Jordan, the US and Israel calls for unrestricted worship at Al-Aqsa to all Muslims.

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