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Reports: Israeli, US officials travel to Jordan to discuss Al-Aqsa, embassy security guard

July 24, 2017 10:15 P.M. (Updated: July 25, 2017 4:49 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli media reported on Monday evening that during a “dialogue” between Israeli and Jordanian authorities, Jordan “did not condition the release of an Israeli embassy security guard back to Israel on the removal of the metal detectors at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.”

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the dialogue went “well,” and that United States envoy Jason Greenblatt would be heading to Amman from Jerusalem, where he arrived earlier Monday, “to convince the king to end the crisis of the embassy guard.”

Earlier on Monday, Jordanian government sources told Ma’an that the Jordanian government issued a judicial order banning the Israeli security guard who was involved in a deadly shooting at the Israeli embassy in Jordan on Saturday night that left two Jordanians dead, from leaving Jordan.

Government sources said that Jordan was demanding that Israeli authorities hand over the guard, who shot and killed two Jordanian carpenters in unclear circumstances, to Jordanian authorities for interrogation and legal procedures.

Sources stressed that Jordan will “escalate diplomatic steps” if the guard was not turned in to Jordanian authorities.

Israel has been refusing to allow Jordanian authorities to question the injured Israeli security guard, citing his immunity under the Vienna Convention, while all security personnel and diplomatic employees were confined to the embassy compound, according to reports.

Prior to Channel 10’s report, Israeli media had reported that Netanyahu would be calling the Jordanian King to discuss the issue of the embassy security guard, as well as the ongoing crisis surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where tensions have continued to rise since Israel installed metal detectors and security cameras inside the compound following a deadly shoot out at the holy site on July 14.

Israeli media had reported that chief of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, Nadav Argaman, was sent to Jordan, and that Israel would be removing all metal detectors and replacing them with thermal cameras, a report that could not be verified by Ma’an.

The installation of the metal detectors -- which has even been contested within the Israeli government, with many agencies recommending they be taken down -- has sparked outrage in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with four Palestinians killed and over 1,000 others injured during clashes with Israeli forces over the past 10 days.

Palestinians have said the move is the latest instance of Israeli authorities using Israeli-Palestinian violence as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalizing repressive measures against Palestinians.

Palestinians have protested the new measures by praying outside of Al-Aqsa’s gates since July 15, with mass demonstrations across the occupied territory.

East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967, in a move never recognized by the international community, as 137 states recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Following Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Jordanian trust that controls the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area. However, non-Muslims are permitted to visit the site during designated times.

Palestinians have long feared that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site, in the shape of routine Jewish incursions on the site and right-wing Israeli calls to demolish the mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple.

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