AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan said on Thursday the kingdom’s crown prince cancelled a visit to Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque to prevent Israel from undermining his first such trip to the city’s holy sites.
Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi confirmed the planned visit, which Israel earlier said had been scheduled for Wednesday but cancelled over a dispute regarding security arrangements at the site, which it did not specify.
Safadi said Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah had planned to join Palestinian worshippers during a service in the mosque, which is Islam’s third holiest site and located in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Jews revere the site as the vestige of their two ancient temples, and it has often been a flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Safadi said Israel had changed the crown prince’s programme agreed with Amman and the move was seen as compromising the right of Palestinians and other Muslims to worship at the site.
“The Aqsa in its entirety is a place of worship for Muslims and Jordan won’t allow any interference in its affairs and Israel has no sovereignty over it,” Safadi said on state TV.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible capital”. It annexed East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, after the 1967 conflict, in a move that has not won international recognition.
Jordan’s Hashemite ruling family is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem.
Israel recognised the Hashemite role as safekeepers of al-Aqsa as part of the two countries’ 1994 peace treaty, and maintains overall security control over the holy site.
Amman has long condemned what it says are Israeli efforts to restrict non-Jewish access to the 35-acre (14-hectare) compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israel cites security concerns for restricting the access of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to the site and any limits it imposes on the number of Muslim worshippers allowed into the compound.
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi with additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich
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