After the inhumane horrors that began on October 7, 2023, by the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas, what was the reaction of our non-Iran aligned neighbors with whom Israel has long-establish peace treaties? Let’s look at Jordan, for example.
The King of Jordan refused to meet with US President Biden during his October 19, 2023, visit to the region, yet he had the audacity to ask the USA for a missile defense system. In addition, the king states that Jordan will not accept even one fleeing Gazan (who are his fellow Arab brothers) from the horrors of Hamas during the current Swords of Iron War.
Jordan also recalled its ambassador to Israel and told Jerusalem not to return its ambassador to Amman. Then on November 16, 2023 Al Jazeera reported that Jordan won’t sign an already agreed to energy and water exchange deal with Israel “while Israel continues to kill children in Gaza” according to the top diplomat, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
As if it could not be more obvious where this partner in peace stands, on January 25, 2024 it is reported that a restaurant called “October 7” opens near the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. Social media shows the restaurant workers wearing uniforms with “October 7” written on them.
This increased belligerent stance by Jordan should not be a surprise. Jordan and the Waqf (the Islamic Temple Mount religious supervising authority) have continuously violated the unwritten terms of the “Status Quo,” as well as the written terms, of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.
Article 9 of that Peace Treaty (“Places of Historical and Religious Significance and Interfaith Relations”) reads:
- Each Party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.
- Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem.
- The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.
In the nearly 30 years since its signing:
- Point 1. Jordan has violated. Israel has complied.
- Point 2. Israel has complied well beyond the concept of “respect” and, in effect, given them control.
- Point 3. Israel has no partner to work with as the King of Jordan and Waqf have repeatedly issued critical, condemning, and inflammatory statements at Israel. Clearly evidenced by recent events.
The phrase “status quo,” implies never changing. Yet this Status Quo has changed to the advantage of only one-side, with a complete disregard to Points 1 and 3 of the Treaty’s Article 9.
A few examples: The Gate of Mercy (Sha’ar Ha’Rachamim) compound is the fifth mosque built on the Temple Mount; in 1967 there was only one. The Muslims carried out unauthorized renovation in Solomon’s Stables (which caused irrevocable damage to historic antiquities) and converted it into another mosque. They have closed tourist gates (Chain Gate and Cotton Gate). [For a more detailed list of illegal changes the Waqf has made to the Temple Mount, see Nadav Shragai and Lenny Ben-David’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs article, “Who Is Breaking the Status Quo on the Temple Mount?” 29 Feb 2019]
In fact, the Jordanian-run Waqf has been largely taken over by Palestinians who store weapons, rocks, and various fireworks inside Temple Mount mosques. Palestinians use these weapons to attack Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall or in clashes with Israeli police who (per the Treaty) are charged with maintaining security and peace. In addition, note the continued and increasing violence coming from the Palestinian Authority territories.
Enemy camp in our midst. No other country in the world (past or present) allows even a friendly foreign country control of internal property (except an embassy or consul). Yet, after recapturing all of Jerusalem in the defensive 1967 Six Day War, Israel has allowed foreign control on the holiest Jewish site that is the heart of their 3,000-year-old capital city, established by King David.
As a result of this continuing October 7 war and Jordan’s increased anti-Israel posturing, it might be the right time re-examine this so-called “Status Quo” situation that presents increased security and sovereignty issues.
Status quo is, at its core, is an agreement, memorandum of understanding, or contract, and to be legal it must contain a few key universal elements:
- Context: what caused this contract to come into being, what is the current situation (status), etc. A few “whereas” statements to set the scene.
- Parties: who are the entities involved?
- Terms & Conditions: roles and responsibilities, detailed points on execution and measurement, processes for revisions, how decisions are made, etc.
- Breach of Contract: what determines a breach, who and how should notification of the breach be handled, time allowed for rectification of the breach, what happens if a breach leads to termination?
[For years I personally have searched for a document outlining Moshe Dayan’s “Status Quo,” with approval by the Knesset, or a Knesset committee, signed by an Israeli Prime Minister or Foreign Minister and countersigned by Jordan and the Waqf. To date, I have been unsuccessful.]
In his 2015 paper, “Why the Status Quo on the Temple Mount Needs to Change”, Professor Hillel Frisch, of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said:
“Strategically, the status quo must change because the demand that Jews (and Christians as well) be given the right to pray on the Temple Mount is interlocked with Israel’s justifiable demand that the Arabs and Palestinians accept Israel as nation state of the Jewish People.
“In the Arab Palestinian view, Jews can be no more than ahl al-dhimmi, a subordinate religious minority under the reign of Muslims, and not a sovereign people. Only if they … recognize Israel as nation state of the Jewish People will the 1948 Israel War of Independence be truly over. […] there will never be peace if a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount is seen as a provocation or desecration of the holy place.
“Then there is the moral argument. As a modern democratic state, Israel’s goal is to ensure equality and parity to all religious communities who deem Jerusalem sacred. By opposing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, Arab leaders, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel’s Arab MKs show their true colors as leaders driven more by theocratic conviction and anti-Jewish prejudice than anything resembling democratic and liberal convictions.”
Therefore, we now have three choices:
- Continue with the ever-changing “Status Quo” that favors one side, at the expense of all others, with many on-going political and increasing security ramifications.
- Israel takes control over the Temple Mount. While this would be taken as incitement, it is justified under rules of war (1967) and, in light of the current war situation, it confronts an enemy camp inside Israel’s borders.
- Develop a new agreement that is more in line with ancient and modern history. This involves the recognition by Jordan and the Waqf, that they lost the wars in 1948 and 1967, and then signed a 1994 treaty; that the Temple Mount is in Israel’s hands; and that the mosque(s) on the Temple Mount should be treated like any other mosque within a free and democratic Israel.
The third choice above could be a win for all, although the second choice should be explored in the context of the current war, which unequivocally exposed Israel’s enemies consistently expressed aims of the total annihilation of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people.
Additional Islamic support for this can be found in scholarly articles like the Quranic Argument for Jewish Sovereignty (Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi) and Is Jerusalem a Sacred Islamic City (Imam Mohamad Tawhidi).
Why is there an enemy camp on Israel’s sovereign and sacred grounds. We all deserve free and peaceful access for tourists and worshipers of all faiths, better security, and properly handled archaeological research. There is no “status quo.”