Israel Denies Request by Jordan To Increase Waqf Staff at Al-Aqsa Compound
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says that Israel has denied a request by Jordan to increase the staff of the Waqf, the Islamic religious organization that oversees the religious site of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound/Temple Mount, despite reports to the contrary.
Jordan had requested to increase the Waqf’s presence at the site by adding an additional 50 Waqf guards “but Israel did not find it appropriate to accede to the request,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. The statement notes that in recent weeks six Hamas-backed Waqf guards were removed from the Temple Mount, and 12 new Waqf positions were manned “all within the existing standards, without any increase.”
The statement also said that: “There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount – Israel’s sovereignty has been preserved. All decisions on the Temple Mount will be made by the Israeli government out of considerations of sovereignty, freedom of religion and security, and not out of pressure from foreign or political factors.”
The statement was in response to a report on Monday by the Kan public broadcaster that Public Security Minister Omer Barlev had agreed to the request to increase Waqf staffing at the site. The Al Aqsa compound has been the site of increased tension, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the Temple Mount was closed to non-Muslim visitors for nearly two weeks.