03/18/2014, 00.00
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Amman slams Israel's escalation at the al-Aqsa mosque compound

by Joshua Lapide
Israel allows Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Temple Mount. He is a great supporter of settlements in the Occupied Territories. This led to clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers. Other clashes occurred last week when Israeli police prevented Muslims under 40 to enter the area for Friday prayers. Jordan fears more violence and growth of religious extremism.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The Jordanian government slammed what it called Israeli "escalation" in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, after a far-right Israeli minister visited the area. Jordan warned that such actions could cause further violence at the site.

Two days ago, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel visited the al-Aqsa compound, also known as the Temple Mount, in the Old City.

Ariel, a fervent Zionist, is a leader in the hardline national religious Jewish Home (HaBayit Hayehudi) Party, and a supporter of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

His visit to Al-Aqsa was immediately seen as a provocation and sparked clashes between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli police.

"Jordan rejects Israeli escalation in Al-Aqsa as well as measures that allow radicals to violate Al-Aqsa under protection of police and occupation forces," Jordanian Minister of Information Mohammad Momani said in a statement carried by Jordanian state-run Petra news agency.

"These actions will lead to more violence and religious extremism in the region," he was also quoted as saying.

As the official custodian of Jerusalem's Islamic holy sites, Jordan wants Israel not to aggravate the situation at Al-Aqsa.

On 14 March, Israeli police banned Palestinian worshippers under 40 from al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayer, a move often imposed when tensions run high.

Prevented from reaching the religious compound, hundreds of Muslim worshippers gathered elsewhere in Jerusalem for the noon prayer.

However, scuffles broke out in a number of places with Israeli police forces as a result of the restrictions.

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