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Al-Aqsa incursions strain Jordan-Israel ties

With Israel's daily incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Jordan's King Abdullah may have no choice but to press for diplomatic sanctions, threatening 20 years of peace between the two countries.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is waging an unprecedented diplomatic offensive against Israel following a week of daily incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Jewish settlers under the protection of heavily armed Israeli police. On Sept. 14, the king said, “Any more provocations in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel, and Jordan will have no choice but to take action.” His statement came in the wake of what the government in Amman described as “provocations and attacks” following clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police on Sept. 13, which injured more than 20 Arabs and resulted in damage to a small mosque adjacent to Al-Aqsa.

But the incursions continued in spite of Jordan's protests, heightening tensions between Amman and Tel Aviv and threatening the 20-year-old peace treaty between the two countries. Under the peace accord, Israel recognized Jordan’s special role in administering and protecting Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem and vowed not to change the status quo. King Abdullah, like his father, King Hussein, has been keen on presenting himself as a custodian of Al-Aqsa Mosque. In the view of most Jordanians, any attack on the mosque is an affront to the king and the role of the Hashemite family in East Jerusalem.

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