Netanyahu's Aqsa pledges aim at 'appeasing Jordan'

Netanyahu's Aqsa pledges aim at 'appeasing Jordan'
Israel's PM has reportedly admitted that pledges relayed to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Al-Aqsa status were aimed at preventing relations with Jordan from deteriorating.
3 min read
27 October, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) [AFP/Getty]
The Israeli Prime Minister has admitted during a session for the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Knesset on Monday evening that "the pledges he relayed to US Secretary of State John Kerry not to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque were made to prevent a deterioration in Israeli relations and cooperation with several Arab states as a result of the tension in Al-Aqsa," according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday morning.

Knesset members who took part in the session told Haaretz that Israeli PM Netanyahu said: "There are chances for cooperation with Arab states but this matter stopped because of the situation in Al-Aqsa, and therefore we are trying to calm the tension there, as the Arab street reacts first to the religious issue of the mosque and then with the Palestinians."

According to the Israeli newspaper's report, the main aim of Netnyhu's pledges was to try and restore relations and cooperation with the Kingdom of Jordan. These relations have been strained and reached a breaking point since the beginning of the violence around Al-Aqsa Mosque in September, and after the Israelis stormed the mosque on several occasions.

Netanyahu also admitted during the meeting that contrary to his publically announced aspirations to significantly improve Israeli relations with Gulf Arab countries, this could not happen without making progress in the peace process.

Netanyahu reportedly said: "relations with Sunni Arab countries are being cemented but this matter has not succeeded in penetrating the Palestinian rejection of entering into negotiations with us."

Haaretz reported that although Netanyahu did not mention Jordan by name, senior US officials told the newspaper that the Arab nation that Netanyahu was intending was Jordan.

According to the same US officials who talked to Haaretz, some of the goals of the latest move by the US were to restore normal relations between Israel and Jordan and resume channels of communications between them, particularly concerning Al-Aqsa. They also said that work had begun to put together a statement in which Israel would pledge not to change the status quo in Al-Aqsa, based on a statement issued by the UN Security Council and the Jordanian proposal that was made on 18 September.

The Jordanians and the Palestinians have agreed to this and the Israeli side has accepted a large part of the statement, according to the US officials.

Progress in this regard was made in Berlin during a meeting between Netanyahu and Kerry, when Netanyahu suggested installing cameras at Al-Aqsa according to a previous Jordanian suggestion, according to Haaretz. After his meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Kerry announced that Israel had accepted this suggestion.