Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdallah canceled a planned visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem because Israel wanted to impose new arrangements and change the visit program, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Thursday.
Safadi did not comment on the diplomatic crisis surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United Arab Emirates. Jordan blocked Netanyahu’s planned flight to the UAE from entering its airspace on Thursday morning, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.
“These difficulties apparently come from the cancellation of the Jordanian crown prince’s visit to the Temple Mount, following a dispute over security arrangements,” the PMO said.
“Jordan had agreed with Israel on the arrangements for the visit, but we were surprised at the last minute that Israel wanted to impose new arrangements and change the visit program,” Safadi told reporters after a meeting in Paris of the Munich Group, which included, in addition to the Jordanian foreign minister, the foreign ministers of Egypt, France, Germany, and the European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, as well as the UN Coordinator for the Peace Process.
“The crown prince wanted to make a religious visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque to pray on the occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj,” Safadi said, referring to the Islamic holiday marking prophet Mohammed’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then to heaven.
According to Safadi, the proposed Israeli measures would have imposed restrictions on Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem during the special prayer to observe the holiday.
“His royal highness decided that he would not allow such restrictions against Muslim worshippers on this blessed night,” he added. “That’s why he decided to cancel the visit to preserve the right of the worshippers in Jerusalem to freely celebrate this event.”
Safadi reiterated Jordan’s position that the entire area of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound “is a place of worship for Muslims only.” Israel, he said, has no sovereignty over the holy site.
On Wednesday, KAN 11 reported that the visit of the crown prince was canceled after Jordan failed to uphold the agreed security arrangement with Israel.
The Jordanians were limited to a set number of security guards but eventually decided to bring a larger number, the report said. When Israel insisted that they stick to the agreed upon number, the Jordanians decided to cancel the visit.