Israel denies accepting Jordan’s request to increase Waqf staff at Al-Aqsa
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel had rejected a request from Jordan to increase the staff of the Waqf, the Islamic religious organization that oversees the religious site at the Al Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount compound, despite information to the contrary. Jordan had requested to increase the Waqf presence at the site by adding 50 additional Waqf guards “but Israel did not consider it appropriate to grant the request”, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. The statement notes that in recent weeks, six Hamas-backed Waqf guards have been removed from the Temple Mount, and 12 new Waqf positions have been occupied “all within existing standards, with no increases.” The statement also said, “There is no change or new development in the situation on the Temple Mount – Israel’s sovereignty has been preserved. All decisions regarding the Temple Mount will be made by the Israeli government out of considerations of sovereignty, religious freedom, and security, and not under the pressure of foreign or political factors. The statement followed a report by the Kan public broadcaster on Monday that said Public Security Minister Omer Barlev had accepted the request for an increase in Waqf staff at the site. The Al Aqsa compound was the scene of heightened tension, particularly during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the Temple Mount was closed to non-Muslim visitors for nearly two weeks.