Jordan Protests Israel’s Jerusalem Dig Plans

Jordan said on Thursday it summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest against plans for excavation and construction work near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Jerusalem’s most volatile holy site.

"Foreign Minister Salah Bashir summoned the Israeli ambassador this week to officially inform him that Jordan rejects such illegal measures," said MP Mohammed Abu Hdeib, head of the lower house of parliament’s committee on international affairs, after meeting Bashir on Thursday.

"Israel plans excavations near Al-Mughrabi Gate (of the mosque) and wants to build a bridge there, violating the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan and international treaties," he said.

Abu Hdeib told AFP that the planned work "threatens the foundations of Al-Aqsa," and warned: "This would also lead to a new violent conflict in the Middle East because Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims and Arabs."

The Al-Aqsa site is also revered by Jews as the location of their ancient temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

In February last year, Israel began excavation work on a pathway leading from the Western Wall to the compound, Islam’s third holiest site, sparking Muslim outrage and prompting UNESCO to call for an immediate halt to the work.

The Jerusalem mayor’s office suspended work the same month, but failed to appease the Muslim authorities which asserted that the dig, while not under Al-Aqsa mosque itself, could harm its foundations.

"The foreign minister demanded that Israel halt any unilateral actions that might affect the status of Jerusalem, especially the issue of Al-Mughrabi Gate," foreign ministry spokesman Nassar Habasheneh told AFP.

Jordan is traditionally considered the guardian of Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which it manages in coordination with the Palestinian authorities.

"We have information that Jerusalem municipality will take a decision soon to resume work there," Habasheneh said.

(AFP via Alarabiya.net)

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