As both the holiest site in Judaism and home to a 1,400-year-old mosque, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound is a natural flashpoint of Jewish-Muslim tension. But the conflict over the holy site has been particularly heated over the past year, with the latest incidents coming during the recent Passover holiday.
In late April, a group of Muslims were removed from the Temple Mount for chanting “Allahu akbar” at nearly 1,000 Jewish and Christian visitors who had ascended the site during the Passover holiday. Prior to that, 13 Jews were removed from the Temple Mount for illegally praying at the site.
Following those incidents, Jordan’s government warned of “serious consequences” for Israel over what it has described as “the invasion of settler groups and Israeli occupying forces in the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
“There’s absolutely no basis for these claims,” Israeli officials countered. “Israel is behaving responsibly, and Jordan knows that.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted that Israel will not change the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian status quo—in place for nearly 25 years—of a ban on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, despite pressure from some members of his own political party and ministerial cabinet to do so.
“Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu has said.
Israeli officials have blamed their Palestinian counterparts for using the Temple Mount to incite a large portion of the past year’s terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews.
“We will not forsake our country and we will keep every inch of our land,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in September 2015. “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise … The Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours as well. They (Jews) have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that.”