White House 'very concerned' over Temple Mount violence
As protests and riots against Israel's decision to install metal detectors at Temple Mount entrance in response to a deadly terror attack spills over into a second week, White House calls upon Israel and Jordan to ‘make a good faith effort to reduce tensions', promises to monitor developments.
In a statement issued by the White House, Israel and Jordan were urged to work together to mollify the tensions and restore calm to the site which has witnessed the eruption of daily clashes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli security forces.
“The United States is very concerned about tensions surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, a site holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and calls upon the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo,” the statement read.
The US, the statement added, would “continue to closely monitor the developments.”
Muslim worshippers and Arab states have repeatedly condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government for its decision to install the detectors, and claims that they are necessary to prevent further terror attacks have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the Arab states, the move constitutes a violation of the status quo, according to which Israel controls access to the compound, while Jordan presides over its daily management.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already signalled that Israel would not be removing the detectors in the meantime, the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that efforts are being made between the US and Arab states to bring around a speedy resolution to the escalating crisis
According to Hatem Abdul Kader, Fatah’s former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Israel was given 24 hours to remove the metal detectors, an ultimatum which would expire on Thursday evening.
Moreover, it was reported that pressure exerted by Jordan and Saudi Arabia convinced the Trump administration to intervene directly after the clashes spilled over into a second week.
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, which manages the site, is expecting large numbers of Arab Israelis to make their way to the compound from across the country to participate in mass Friday prayers.
In an effort to stop the flood however, Israel is considering preventing Arab Israelis from Galilee and the Negev from participating in the prayers, but many have already stated that such measures will not succeed and pledged to go to the Temple Mount at any price. Additionally, many have stated their intention to travel to Jerusalem before Friday.
In a move apparently intended to whip up further hysteria at the compound and possibly instigate more violence, the Waqf announced Wednesday that all mosques in Jerusalem would be closed on Friday, thereby forcing thousands of Muslims from east Jerusalem to join the protests.
According to various officials, other measures are being considered as a replacement for the metal detectors, which would include selective security checks upon entrance to the compound according to criteria such as age groups and gender.
Another option currently being weighed is that the metal detectors remain in place but are operated by international forces, either exclusively or with Israeli personnel. Israel is also said to be willing to remove the metal detectors entirely on condition that cameras are installed inside the compound—a measure that was supposed to be implemented months ago following an agreement between Israel and Jordan but which was ultimately thrown out by the Waqf.
According to the officials privy to the options being considered, they are all only being discussed and no decision has yet been taken on the matter.