A decadeslong dispute between Jordan and Israel over a mosque in Jerusalem heated up Monday after Jordan's king warned that any further police provocation of Muslims in Jerusalem would damage ties between the two countries. The warning came after a second day of clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed East Jerusalem, Agence France-Presse reported.
"We have gotten reassurances from the Israeli government that this would not happen. Unfortunately, these are reassurances we have heard in the past," King Abdullah II said in English after talks with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron. "Any more provocations in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel, and Jordan will have no choice but to take action, unfortunately."
Israeli security forces entered the compound Sunday to prevent Muslim youths from harassing visiting Jews during the start of the Jewish new year, police said. The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Kiswani, said police "stormed" the area with tear gas and stun grenades. During the standoff, nine people were arrested, the Times of Israel reported.
Jordan has custodian rights over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and officials had previously expressed concern over an Israeli army attack at the holy site over the weekend. Muslims believe the compound marks the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, and some describe the presence of Jewish worshippers and Israeli police as a provocation. The mosque is also a Jewish holy site known as Temple Mount.
On Monday, the United States government condemned “all acts of violence” at the holy site and urged all sides to exercise restraint. "The United States is deeply concerned by the recent violence and escalating tensions surrounding the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount. We strongly condemn all acts of violence,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. "It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount in word and in practice."
Israel seized East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it.