Last week, as thousands of Muslims gathered for peaceful Ramadan prayers at al-Aqsa, some 350 young men barricaded themselves in the mosque with firecrackers and large rocks, refusing to evacuate upon the request of authorities. Police then forcibly removed them to prevent further escalation and desecration of the holy site, creating a violent scene then used to stoke riots in Gaza and some parts of Israel. Benny Avni examines the role played by King Abdullah of Jordan:
Defying expectation for violence, prayers at Jerusalem’s holy sites since the start of Ramadan, on March 22, went on with no incident until Wednesday. So why would the Hashemite king, a close ally of America and Israel, issue a call to “defend” the mosque even before violence erupted? Why was his language so similar to that of Hamas agitators and other Iran-funded terrorist groups?
Amman enjoys the fruits of the peace treaty Jordan signed with Israel in 1994. So does Israel. Beside security cooperation, which helps to secure the Hashemite palace in an often-restive Palestinian-majority country, Israel supplies much of Jordan’s energy and water needs. Yet, “Every Ramadan, like clockwork, we see the Hashemite kingdom coming with vitriol” like this week’s statement, a Mideast watcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jonathan Schanzer, tells the Sun.
On issues related to the Temple Mount, Jordan is too often the problem, rather than the solution. Beyond bromide State Department statements calling on all sides to maintain calm, Washington would do well to remind Amman of the benefits of relations with Israel, and tell King Abdullah to cool his overly heated rhetoric.