Jerusalem: Israel denied that it has approved Jordan’s request to increase the number of waqf staff at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, also known to the Jews as Temple Mount.
Jordan requested to add 50 waqf staff at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound about a month and a half ago, and “Israel did not find it appropriate to accede to the request”, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said in a statement.
“There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount, Israel’s sovereignty has been preserved,” Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located in East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed shortly later, claiming it part of its “indivisible” capital, in a move unrecognized by most countries across the world.
The site, which has long been a focal point of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, has been administered by Jordan’s Muslim waqf but secured by the Israeli police.
Under a long-held status quo, Jews are allowed to visit the site but not to pray there.
Bennett’s office stressed that all decisions on the site “will be made by the Israeli government out of considerations of sovereignty, freedom of religion and security, rather than pressure from foreign or political factors”.
The remarks came a day after local media reported that Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev had agreed to Jordan’s request to increase the workforce of waqf at the site.
Jordan’s move came amid tensions and frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.