Jordan is growing increasingly worried about reports suggesting that Israel has offered Saudi Arabia control over the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, including Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount, Jordanian and Palestinian officials said on Thursday.
The recent secret meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has increased fears in Jordan that the kingdom may lose its status as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, the officials said.
The issue dates back to 1924, when the Supreme Muslim Council, the highest Muslim body in charge of Muslim community affairs in Mandatory Palestine, accepted Hussein bin Ali (Sharif of Mecca) as custodian of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, Israel committed to “respect the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem.”
Israel also pledged that when negotiations on the permanent status will take place, it will give high priority to the Jordanian historical role in these shrines.
The Wakf Department that oversees Muslim sites in Jerusalem is controlled by the Jordanian government. In 2013, the Palestinian Authority also recognized Jordan’s role through an agreement signed between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II.
In recent weeks, however, the Jordanians have received “indications” that Israel, backed by the US administration, was considering granting the Saudis some form of representation in the Jerusalem-based Wakf Department.