Jordanian Envoy Blocked From Entering Har HaBayis, Sparks Diplomatic Spat


View of the Kosel and Har HaBayis in the Old City of Yerushalayim, Jan. 5. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israeli security refused to allow Jordan’s ambassador to visit al-Aqsa Mosque on Har HaBayis, Jordan’s Royal News reported Tuesday, calling the incident “unprecedented.”

Jordan media said Israeli security officials asked ambassador Rasan al-Majali to leave the area after demanding he present a permit.

Israel at first denied the report but the Israeli envoy in Jordan was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Amman for clarification.

Israel police said that the Jordanian head of the Muslim endowment, the Waqf and the ambassador arrived without advanced notice. “An officer on duty did not recognize the gentlemen and was not aware of any planned visit and informed his commander. While he was waiting for instructions, he delayed the two men at the entrance to the compound,” the police said in a statement.

“Contrary to misleading reports, the entrance was not prevented and the ambassador himself decided to leave on his own accord,” the police said. “Had he waited just a few seconds longer, he would have been allowed in. Advance coordination would have prevented any delay and we are sorry for the false reporting of the incident,” the police said.

The explanation by the police, however, did not assuage the Jordanians who quickly summoned Israel’s ambassador to Jordan Eitan Sorkis to the ministry, “in the wake for the Jordanian ambassador being prevented from entering the al-Aqsa mosque.”

Subsequently, the ambassador returned to the site and prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Footage shows Majali walking around the compound, unharried by Israel Police.

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