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Jordan exerting efforts to prevent division of Aqsa

Oct. 21, 2014 7:03 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 22, 2014 7:55 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – King Abdullah II and the Jordanian government are exerting efforts to prevent the ratification of a draft resolution in the Israeli Knesset to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Muslims and Jews, an official said Tuesday.

In an interview with Ma'an TV, Ambassador of Jordan to Palestine Khalid al-Shawabka maintained that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are red lines" and what is going on in Jerusalem is "unacceptable."

"Jordan's foreign minister has sent strongly-worded messages to foreign ministers of member states of the UN Security Council and to the UN demanding an end to the systematic assaults on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and on worshipers," the ambassador said.

He highlighted that employees of the Palestinian ministry of endowment who work in the Al-Aqsa compound receive their salaries from Jordan and follow Jordanian rules.

"Since the Hashemite custody of Jerusalem and the holy places started in 1924, the Hashemites have paid special attention to Jerusalem. Late king Hussein Ibn Talal issued a royal decree related to the protection of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock."

Al-Shawabka also said that Jordan's envoy to the UN would submit to the Security Council a Palestinian application demanding a permanent and just solution to the question of Palestine and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

The Jordanian envoy, added al-Shawabka, has been trying to convince as many UN member states to vote in favor of the Palestinian cause.

The ambassador noted that Jordan invests 7 million dinars ($9 million) every year to developmental projects in Jerusalem through the Palestinian ministry of endowment. In addition, he said, King Abdullah II funds projects at the Al-Aqsa Mosque reaching about $3.5 million at his own expense.

Asked whether Jordan would be able to convince Israel to avoid dividing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, al-Shawabka used an example from the past when Jordan managed to convince Israel to remove a controversial wooden bridge Israel built at the Moroccan Gate.

He was also asked whether Jordan would agree to allow Palestinians to travel into Jordan in their private cars.

"Jordan does not have a problem allowing Palestinians to enter Jordan in their private cars, but the problem is whether the Israelis could allow that," he responded.

According to Palestinian Knesset Member Massoud Ghanayem, the Israeli Knesset is expected to vote on a bill to divide al-Aqsa Mosque next month.

In a statement cited by the Hamas-affiliated Palestine Information Center news agency, Ghanayem said that the Knesset's interior committee approved a law allowing Jewish prayers at the site.

Ghanayem called the bill an assault on Muslims, PIC reported.

On Monday, the Fatah movement said that the draft resolution was a violation of international law.

Ahmad Assaf, a Fatah spokesman, said in a statement that the resolution, to be presented to the Israeli Knesset, was unacceptable and illegitimate.

Assaf called upon Palestinians to respond to the president’s call and stay in the al-Aqsa compound to defend it.

He warned that if the resolution to divide al-Aqsa was approved the Middle East conflict would turn into a religious conflict and "the already exploded area will explode."
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