Jordan Lawmakers Seek to Expel Israeli Ambassador Over Holy Site

Jordanian lawmakers voted to expel Israel’s ambassador over moves to end Jordan’s custodianship over a Jerusalem holy site, the official Petra news agency said.

The vote today, which would require government approval to take effect, reflects the passions inflamed when the Muslim world perceives that Israel is trying to cement its hold over the contested hilltop compound that is home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest shrine.

Late yesterday, Israel’s parliament debated a lawmaker’s call to extend Israeli sovereignty over the complex known to Jews as Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s most sacred site. No vote was held and no decisions were taken.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman had no comment on the Jordanian vote.

Since the Jordanian government supports U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, it “is likely to ignore the lower house remarks,” said Oraib Rintawi, head of the Amman-based Al Quds Centre for Political Studies.

The shrine, run by a Muslim trust known as the Waqf under Israeli security control, is a recurring flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israeli police clashed with Palestinian protesters ahead of yesterday’s Knesset debate.

Muslims believe their Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, which is home to the silver-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque and gold-capped Dome of the Rock. Jews revere it as the location of two biblical Jewish temples.

Israel captured the complex, along with the rest of east Jerusalem and the West Bank, from Jordan in 1967. It retained Waqf control over the site and forbade Jewish prayer there to avoid bloodshed. Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 that allowed the exchange of ambassadors.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mohammad Tayseer in Amman at mtayseer@bloomberg.net; Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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