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Israel 'respects' Al-Aqsa status quo, Netanyahu

"I want to make sure that everyone understands that Israel respects and will continue to respect the status quo on the Temple Mount," Netanyahu said in a statement, using the Jewish name for the third holiest Muslim site. "We know that there are arrangements there, including the traditional role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and we are not about to change it,” he continued. Israel has recently imposed stricter measures on the entry of Muslim worshippers into Al-Aqsa while facilitating incursions by Jewish settlers into the complex, according to eyewitnesses and Palestinian Islamic Endowments Authority. For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times. Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming Jerusalem as the unified capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state. Since the 1950s, Jordan has administered and overseen all Muslim and Christian religious sites in Al-Quds. A 1994 peace treaty that normalized relations between Jordan and Israel recognizes Jordan's special supervisory role over holy sites in the historical city.

However, an Israeli lawmaker recently proposed legislation that would revoke Jordanian oversight of Islamic and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the treaty.

The proposal caused massive anger in Jordan with the latter's parliament asked the government to expel the Israeli ambassador and revoke the 1994 peace agreement in protest. Yet, the proposed legislation has never made it to the Knesset floor.

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