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Jordan condemns Israel over 'extremist raids' on Al-Aqsa during Passover holiday

April 14, 2017 2:35 P.M. (Updated: April 16, 2017 11:44 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Jordanian government condemned Israel for violations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem over the past week, which has seen hundreds of right-wing Israelis under armed protection touring and praying at the compound for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Jordanian government spokesperson and Minister of State for Media Affairs Muhammad al-Momani said in statement on Friday that Jordan “vehemently rejects these provocative behaviors that offend the holiness of the sacred place and provoke the feelings of Muslims all around the world,” demanding that Israeli authorities immediately stop Israeli “raids” on the holy site.

Al-Momani called on the international community “to uphold its responsibilities towards East Jerusalem, including making Israel commit to all regulations in accordance to international law.”

“Jordan rejects and condemns these behaviors that disrespects all efforts conducted to relaunch serious negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis to achieve a two-state solution that has gained international support as the best solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” al-Momani said.

Al-Momani affirmed that Jordan “would conduct all efforts to defend the identity and holiness of Jerusalem through its guardianship on Islamic and Christian sites in East Jerusalem.”

Both Thursday and Wednesday saw hundreds of right-wing Israeli touring and praying at the Al-Aqsa compound under armed protection from Israeli forces.

Leading up to the start of Passover, Israeli forces detained at least 30 Palestinians during raids in occupied East Jerusalem overnight Saturday and banned them from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while three Palestinians from northern Israel were also banned from the holy site over a Facebook post related to Passover, amid a security crackdown imposed by Israel for the holiday.

“For (Palestinian) Jerusalemites, the Jewish holiday season means an escalation in arbitrary detentions, house raids, and searches -- measures that terrify families. The installation of additional security checkpoints, particularly at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (compound)’s gates and in the Old City, only increase tensions in Jerusalem,” Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) head in Jerusalem Nadi Qaws told Ma’an last week.

The Passover holiday in 2016 was marked by near-daily conflict as right-wing Israelis descended on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to perform religious rituals.

While Jewish visitation is permitted to the compound, non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

Despite this agreement, Israeli authorities regularly allow Jewish visitors to enter the site and carry out religious worship -- often under armed guard.

Such visits spark frustration among Palestinians who see the incursions as a direct threat to Palestinian sovereignty and any potential for a future independent Palestinian state, which has been effectively marred by increasing settler presence across Palestinian land.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have almost entirely sealed the occupied West Bank -- excluding urgent humanitarian cases -- for more than a week for Passover, preventing scores of Palestinians with Israeli-issued permits to access their jobs in Jerusalem and Israel.

Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.

The closures do not apply to Israeli settlers residing illegally in the West Bank.
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