Is the Temple Mount the Fulcrum of Israel’s Break Up with Jordan?

It was never a happy marriage, but gone are the days between those euphoric moments in 1994 when Israel and Jordan first signed their peace treaty. Jordan, a made up country ruled by the minority Hashemite royal family from Saudi Arabia over which close to 80 percent of its citizens are second class Palestinians has steadily become unabashed about its in built anti-Semitism and anti-Israel modus operandi.

The trigger for the latest spate of anti-Israel vitriol is the fact that nearly 1,300 Jews ascended the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, Israel’s day of mourning for the destruction of the two Temples that rested there.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi was outraged that so many Jews took the time to walk quietly on the Temple Mount.

“The number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today stands at a record number that has not been recorded since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967.” 

“The crisis is over but further and more dangerous crises will break out as a result of Israel’s continued provocation, if Israel will not uproot the source of the tension, if the occupation will not end and if East Jerusalem will not become the capital of an independent Palestine.”

Jordan has for years funded extremists while feigning to be moderate.  Their entire country is geared towards repressing the rights of their Palestinian majority while ensuring the Hashemite family and its bedouin backers remain in power. For Jordan, the Temple Mount is all it has. It has no historical claim to the area nor does it truly have the backing of its citizens.

Mordechai Kedar wrote the following in Midah:

In 1994, Israel signed a peace agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In this agreement, Israel granted “special status” (Article 9) to the Jordanian government on the Temple Mount (‘Muslim Holy Shrines in Jerusalem’). This concession to the Jordanians was totally unnecessary since King Hussein needed peace with Israel more than Israel needed it with Jordan, and a peace agreement was achievable without it. Even ignoring this, what normal country grants another country ‘special status’ in its capital city and in the place most holy to its nation. This special status that recognizes a degree of Jordanian sovereignty on the Temple Mount has been disastrous for Israel and the devastating effects of this blunder have played themselves out once again in the wake of the latest terrorist attack on the Temple Mount, where two Israeli border policeman were killed.

The biggest mistake Israel has made with regard to Jordan is the ‘insurance policy’ it has given to the Hashemite Kingdom for the past 23 years under the baseless assumption that Jordan can deliver on its part.  This insurance policy is that Israel would protect the Hashemite Kingdom if in danger of being overthrown, and in turn, Jordan would serve as a buffer zone protecting Israel from the potential dangers threatening it from the east: Iraq falling apart, Iran and the Ayatollahs, ISIS and Al-Qaeda. As a result, the Hashemite Kingdom, whose origins are in Saudi Arabia, continues to rely on the minority Bedouin population to rule the majority Palestinian population, which thus prevents the natural process of Jordan becoming a country which is ruled by the Palestinian majority, or Jordan being split into a Palestinian and Bedouin state.

This policy of propping up a regime that clings to a false narrative has begun to unravel.  Jordan cannot exist as a country that has no real history and yet to cling to power by whipping up religious radicalism when necessary. The Temple Mount has become the focal point in the debate on who this Land actually belongs to. For Jordan, their presence on the Temple Mount is not only alien, but provocative and destructive.

With statements like Safadi’s the time is ticking until another deadly attack or a creeping play for more Jordanian control in the Old City.


What is the Israel’s Government Afraid Of?

Netanyahu has always pushed the far right of his coalition forward in order to hold onto the base of his party, while cutting deals to temper the very situation the right flank is pushed to set up.

In the case of the Temple Mount, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle. After years of tacit support for religious rights activists in encouraging Jews to ascend the Temple Mount, Bibi cannot simply pull them all back.  In fact, a majority of the country while not even religious support the rights of Jews to pray at their holiest site.

The murder of the two Druze policemen on the Temple Mount triggered a deep sense of collective duty to ensure the gates of Jewish prayer would be kept open and firmly established on the Temple Mount. This is a moment of reckoning concerning a policy that is not only discriminatory against Jews, but absurd in that it empowers a regime that is only at peace with Israel on paper.

The latest tension with Jordan over the Temple Mount is not only the initial stages of the end of the peace agreement signed in 1994, but one that has the potential to bring a fall to a regime in Jordan that is not only destructive to its own people, but one that is thwarting true reconciliation and peace in the region.