Friday, November 14, 2014

They Are All Status-Quoing

Jordan's FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH spoke yesterday with secretary of State John Kerry and said:

...this evening, His Majesty the King, there was a bilateral – trilateral meeting where His Majesty met President Netanyahu – Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as Secretary of State. And they discussed coaxial issues, including Jerusalem and the Holy Shrines, and they took a lot of time...

...His Majesty, during his meeting with Mr. Kerry this afternoon, explained Jordan’s position and the stance regarding the necessity of maintaining the status quo of the Holy Shrines, and they should not be touched or affected by any means. And this is part of the Hashemite custody of these Christian and Muslim sanctities in Jerusalem. And you are well aware also that when Jordan took some measures, there was confirmation on the part of the Israeli nation, Israeli state, and they showed commitment that they will maintain the status quo and respect the Jordanian role,..There are mechanisms and communications underway, including practical measures to de-escalate the tension and that maintain the status quo without getting it affected by such tensions... 

and here is SECRETARY KERRY: 

...We particularly talked about the urgent need to address the greatest tension between Israelis and Palestinians beginning with the imperative, the absolute need to uphold the status quo regarding the administration of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and to take affirmative steps to prevent provocations and incitement. In the trilateral meeting this evening, we discussed, as Nasser has explained to you, specific and practical actions that both sides can take to restore calm. The Jordanians and the Israelis have agreed – the Jordanians, obviously, in their historic role as the custodians of the Haram al-Sharif – and the Israelis joined together as they have worked since 1967 to administer the Haram al-Sharif, to make sure that they de-escalate the situation, and that the steps they take will instill confidence that the status quo will be upheld.

...There are firm commitments, particularly from the custodian of the holy mosque, as well as Israel, to guarantee that they will take these steps. Now, I know that the first question will be: “So exactly what are those steps?” And the answer is we’re not going to lay out each practical step. It is more important that they be done in a quiet and effective way...makes it clear to me that they are serious about working in the effort to create this de-escalation, to take steps that will instill confidence that the status quo will be upheld.

Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to uphold the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and to implement these steps. And King Abdullah also agreed to continue to take affirmative steps to restore calm and implement practical measures to prevent further escalation of tensions. 


...we’ve always warned that Jerusalem is a redline. His Majesty is the Custodian. Jordan has a historic road. The peace treaty between Israel and Jordan points to that very, very clearly. There was an agreement signed between His Majesty and President Abbas in 2013 reaffirming the Hashemite Custodianship of the Holy Site...

...We’ve had a phone call between His Majesty and Prime Minister Netanyahu a week ago or more when the prime minister reiterated that Israel is committed to the preservation of the status quo and respects the Jordanian, the prime minister was very clear in yet again reaffirming that the status quo in Jerusalem will not be touched, and that Israel is committed to this and Israel is committed to respecting the role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Custodianship of His Majesty...


...With respect to the Haram al-Sharif, if you read the basics of the agreement that exists on – in defining the status quo, you will see precisely what is expected of the WAC, the Jordanian force that is responsible, as well as the Israelis. And if the status quo is being maintained, you’ll be able to see exactly what is expected. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to go into all of the ways in which that is going to be implemented. It’s up to the folks there to show it in the way that they’re implementing it. But I think people will notice in the next days, and that’ll be the measure.

So again, we’ve agreed not to go into the specifics because one person or another can misinterpret or not quite understand one choice or another. I think the status quo is clear and the status quo is going to be maintained, and that is what is absolutely vital to the Hashemite Kingdom’s responsibility as Custodian. And the prime minister has made it clear that he will uphold that.

Judeh finishes that press conference:

 ...we have seen a commitment on the part of Israel to respect and maintain the status quo and respect the special role of Jordan and to ease the tension and remove all the elements of instability that we are seeing. We have to wait and see if this is done. Like I said, there are concrete steps out there to be done. There is an agreement that we need to de-escalate. There is a commitment on the part of Israel that the status quo has to be maintained and to respect the Jordanian. Let’s see what happens and then we’ll review our decision, but we have to see what happens on the ground first.

As for the trilateral meeting, with Egypt's Sisi on the phone, we learn

According to a Royal Court statement, the three sides also discussed ways to create a climate encouraging the revival of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Netanyahu, the statement said, “reasserted Israel’s commitment to keep the status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites without changeand respect Jordan’s Hashemite leaders’ historical role as custodians of holy sites in Jerusalem”.
During the meeting, His Majesty emphasised Jordan’s stand on the situation in Jerusalem, reiterating a call on Tel Aviv to take practical steps to keep the situation there intact, especially at Al Aqsa Mosque and its vicinity

The Jordanian view seems to be that

Much of the unrest in Jerusalem has been fuelled by Israeli moves to step up settlement activity in the city’s eastern sector and by allowing extremists to storm Al Aqsa compound, the third holiest site for 1.5 billion Muslims.

The Palestinians have also been infuriated by a far-right Jewish campaign for prayer rights at Al Aqsa.

Although Israel insists it has no plans to change the decades-old status quo, Jordan believes, as Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour put it, there is a plan in that direction by the Israeli government

And back in Washington,

QUESTION: Can I just go back and finish what I was going to ask? I wanted to ask, more broadly – I don’t know if you’d seen today that there was some suggestion that the Israeli side might be thinking of reinstalling metal detectors at al-Aqsa, outside the entrances of al-Aqsa Mosque. Have you seen that? What’s --

MS. PSAKI: I had not actually seen that report. I mean, our view is – continues to be that we believe it should go back to the status quo of the – of what had been observed from both sides.

...QUESTION: The status quo ante.

MS. PSAKI: Fair enough. Okay. (Laughter.)



There was this earlier:

[minister of Internal Security Yitzhak] Aharonovitch said late that he would reinstall metal detectors at the entrances along with new facial-recognition technology.  "We'll increase the supervision of people entering the compound, both Jews and Muslims," he said.

But Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf which runs the compound, rejected the idea.  "This is unacceptable to all Muslims. It cannot be installed," he told AFP.

And already today:

Israel lifts age bar on access to Al-Aqsa Mosque

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Men of all ages will be allowed to attend the main weekly Muslim prayers Friday at East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound for the first time in "months", a police spokesman said.  "No age limit on the Temple Mount, we're hoping things will be calm and quiet today," spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP.

Thanks to IMRA, I found this

King holds talks with Palestinian President

Amman, Nov 12 (Petra) -- His Majesty King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday, held talks...The King reiterated that Israel's repeated aggressions, provocative actions in Jerusalem, and targeting of the holy sites, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Al Haram Sharif, were utterly condemnable...

...Abbas expressed his appreciation of the Palestinian people and the great efforts exerted by His Majesty King Abdullah II, to preserve the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to protect it from Israeli attacks and practices...After the meeting, the Palestinian president told JTV and Petra that Jordan is a key stakeholder in the Jerusalem issue because it has the custodianship, which was agreed upon, and as per which Jordan has the first and foremost great responsibility, fulfilled by His Majesty King Abdullah II to protect Jerusalem and the holy sites. "This was one issue that was not up for a debate," he said.

He added, "His Majesty the King, since the Jerusalem events erupted and prior to that, and to this day, is busy contacting all parties, including the Israeli side, to stop the Israeli attacks on Islamic and Christian holy sites, in addition to contacting all concerned regional and international parties."


And this from Friday:

QUESTION: Can we go to Israel?MS. PSAKI: Israel, sure.QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the meetings that the Secretary held yesterday. There was a press conference afterwards at which he said that there have been – they had agreed to some steps to de-escalate the tensions in the region. Today out of the region, they’re saying that the Palestinians have – all restrictions have been lifted on men wanting to go and pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque.MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.QUESTION: I just wondered what it was – first off, if the – your reaction to the news that today seems to be free movement into the mosque for Palestinian worshippers – or Arab worshippers, I guess; and then secondly, what it is that you’re asking the Palestinians to do to de-escalate tensions.MS. PSAKI: Well, let me talk about this a little bit, and as you mentioned, the Secretary spoke about it. I will mention one thing at the top just to manage expectations. One of the discussions they had was the fact that we were not going to announce on their behalf any steps, specific steps, they were going to take. And we feel it’s much more important that they take steps than it is that it’s publicly announced. But I can talk a little bit more about the meetings.As you mentioned, last night the Secretary had the opportunity to sit down with leaders, have these discussions in person. The parties – as he mentioned, the parties agreed to take affirmative steps to restore calm and implement practical measures to prevent further escalation of tensions.Obviously, you saw the lift on age limit restrictions for Muslim men entering the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. This is an important development, one we certainly welcome, and a positive step toward maintaining the status quo of the site. Forty thousand Muslims were able to visit the site today, and although tensions remain high, this is a positive step.They also – during these meetings, President – Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to uphold the status quo, and you’ve seen some of those actions. And President Abbas restated his firm commitment on – to nonviolence and made it clear that he will do everything possible to restore calm.



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