Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel, accusing it of “provoking 1.7 billion Muslims” and reneging on the peace treaty between the two countries.
The recall, thought to be the first of its kind, came amid explosive scenes in Jerusalem and was prompted by Israeli security forces clashing with Palestinian at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy city.
Violence unfolded at Temple Mount on Wednesday morning after the site’s religious administrators claimed Israeli forces damaged the mosque’s doors, burnt carpets and broke glass. Two people were reportedly injured inside the mosque, with Israeli forces using foam-tipped bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at Islam’s third holiest site.
“This contradicts the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel,” said Mohammad al-Momani, a spokesman for the Jordanian government.“Israel must maintain the status quo and stop any raiding of Haram al-Sharif or allowing extremists to go there and carry out religious practices that are provocative to Muslims,” he said.
The stinging criticism echoed the words of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, a key regional ally, who called an emergency session of the UN Security Council and used his opening of Parliament last week to denounce Israel. “Jordan will continue to confront, through all available means, unilateral Israeli policies and measures in Jerusalem,” he said.
“The Palestinian cause remains our principal cause and is a higher national interest.”
The crisis comes after groups of religious Jews repeatedly tried to force access. Doing so is illegal in Israel, but several Israeli lawmakers are trying to change that. Last week Yehuda Glick, a leading campaigner for greater prayer rights for Jews at the site, was shot and wounded, with his attacker killed in a shoot-out with police hours later.
Days later right-wing politician Moshe Feiglin provoked strong reaction when led a group of supporters to the site.
“Al-Aqsa is the detonator that will cause a volcano to erupt in Israel’s face,” read a statement from the armed wing of Hamas.
Seething anger among Palestinians has reached levels not seen since the second intifada 14 years ago. Beyond the al-Aqsa incursions, grievances include the huge increase in settlement-building in East Jerusalem as well as Jewish settlers moving into Palestinian districts such as Silwan.
“Let them arrest us, let them shoot us,” Hamada Abu Omar, 21.
“At least we can frustrate them and show them we will never give up.”