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The Jordan Option and Al-Aqsa Mosque

Jordan is torn between its special role in East Jerusalem and its concerns over the Palestinian impact on Jordanian identity.
An Israeli policeman scuffles with a Palestinian during clashes near Lion's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City February 7, 2014. Tensions briefly ran high on Friday in Jerusalem's Old City following clashes that erupted between Israeli police and stone-throwing Palestinians on a compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (JERUSALEM - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX18CFC
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Just four days after King Abdullah II issued an ultimatum to a group within Jordanian society that promotes the possibility of Jordan becoming an alternative homeland to the Palestinians, the Lower House of Parliament adopted a unanimous decision to expel the Israeli ambassador in Amman and recall Jordan’s envoy in Tel Aviv. The decision was a response to ongoing deliberations in the Israeli Knesset over ending the Hashemite guardianship over Muslim and Christian shrines in occupied East Jerusalem and replacing it with Israeli custody. Some Israeli lawmakers want to pass a resolution allowing Jews to perform prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while others want unfettered access to the mosque itself.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that it does not support moves to end Jordan’s custody of religious sites in East Jerusalem. But various Jewish groups have been allowed to visit Al-Aqsa under police protection, triggering reactions from Palestinians and Jordanians. On Feb. 25, angry Muslim worshipers at Al-Aqsa clashed with Israeli security, raising fears that Israel was about to change the status quo there in anticipation of a US-brokered peace deal.

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