JERUSALEM (JTA) – The status quo on the Temple Mount will not change, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated.
“In last night’s security consultation, the prime minister made it clear that there will be no change in the status quo on the Temple Mount and that whoever expresses a different opinion is presenting a personal view and not the policy of the government,” Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said Thursday in a statement.
The statement comes amid continued and increasing violence at the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Under the status quo, the Temple Mount is under control of the Muslim Wakf, as it has been since 1967, and only Muslims are permitted to pray at the site, though Jews and Christians may visit.
Israel reportedly has been reassuring foreign governments of its commitment to the status quo in recent days.
Since the shooting last week of Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick, several right-wing lawmakers have visited the site.
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, took to the Israeli airwaves on Thursday to criticize Israeli lawmakers for the visits.
The lawmakers are seeking headlines, Liberman told Israel Radio. He told Army Radio that the visitors, from the Likud and Jewish Home parties, “only know how to light a flame and to exploit a situation for their own political gains,” and pointed out that no members of his party had gone up to the site.
“I am in favor of wise policy. I am in favour of acting and not shouting,” Liberman said. “You have to act wisely in this region.”
Likud lawmaker Moshe Feiglin, who visited the Temple Mount in the wake of the Glick shooting, and who visits the site once a month, said that Liberman and others who believe in sticking to the status quo “are giving a prize to terrorism and guarantee its escalation.”
Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel over the issue of the Temple Mount, charging that Israeli forces entered deep into the Al-Aksa Mosque on Wednesday when it chased rioting Muslim workers into the building.
Israeli officials told local media that the forces stopped at the entrance to the mosque, where they saw stockpiles of rocks and firebombs ready to be used on Israeli forces and visitors to the Temple Mount.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu called King Abdullah II of Jordan to assure him that the status quo would not change on the Temple Mount.
Netanyahu said early Thursday evening, at the start of a meeting with Indian Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh, that he and Abdullah agreed during their conversation to make “every effort to calm the situation.”
“I explained to him that we’re keeping the status quo on the Temple Mount and that this includes Jordan’s traditional role there, as consistent with the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan,” the Israeli leader said. “We have to make every effort to restore calm, quiet and security. But I think we have to make that effort throughout the world.”
Netanyahu and Abdullah called for an immediate end to all acts of violence and incitement, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel over the issue of the Temple Mount, charging that Israeli forces entered deep into the Al-Aksa Mosque on Wednesday when it chased rioting Muslim workers into the building. Israel denied the assertion.