‘Jordan will have custody of Temple Mt.’


The Israelis and Palestinians have reached an agreement by which, in a final peace deal, the Temple Mount’s holy sites will be transferred to Jordanian custody, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Monday morning. Also, according to the London-based newspaper, it was agreed that Jordanian citizenship would be granted to 90,000 east Jerusalem residents.

According to the report, it is also likely that a supreme supervisory commission will be established, which will include representatives from the UN, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

When Israel and Jordan signed a peace deal in 1994, it was agreed that Israel would honor the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom over the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and in a final Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, Israel would give high importance to Jordan’s historic role over the holy sites.

Israel Radio reported that Jordan had recently set up a new fund for the renovation of Al Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. The head of the fund even proposed that Jordan give Jordanian passports to some 90,000 east Jerusalem residents.

Meanwhile, Vice Premier Haim Ramon told Israel Radio that the question of who will have custody of Jerusalem’s holy sites must not be discussed at the moment. “We must decide that in that area there will be a special body which we will discuss in the future,” he said.

Also Monday, in an interview with Army Radio, Ramon said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition would support his plan to give the Palestinians several east Jerusalem neighborhoods in exchange for territory in the West Bank.

Ramon said that even Israel Beiteinu would back such a concession, as would the Labor Party.
“There are two central parties that agree to this,” Ramon said. “The most important thing is to preserve the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.”

Ramon told Israel Radio that there was a consensus in the cabinet that “no Palestinian refugee should return to Israel under the law of return – legal or moral.”

However, he proposed a discussion over refugees who wanted to return for humanitarian reasons, saying that “the idea that this will cause Israel’s collapse is ridiculous.”

On Sunday, Ramon hinted that his Jerusalem plan, announced last month, would be on the negotiating table at the November Middle East peace conference in Annapolis.

Ramon’s associates said afterwards that he had merely stated his own positions that he has favored for many years. They said his views had become mainstream and were even adopted by Israel Beiteinu.

According to the plan, Israel would not transfer control of the Old City and neighborhoods around it to the Palestinians, Ramon said in the Monday interview.

In Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman surprised many by agreeing that Israel should cede control of certain areas of Jerusalem, while strengthening its control of areas such as the Old City and Mount Scopus.

Lieberman told Israel Radio on Monday that his party supported swapping refugee camps in the Jerusalem area with West Bank settlement blocks.

October 8, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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