US Secretary of State, John Kerry expressed his thoughts on the status of Al Aqsa Mosque, which is one of the reasons for the latest clashes in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, after some Israeli Knesset members and settlers forced their way into the holy site.
Kerry said on Monday that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to clarify the status of Al Aqsa Mosque, to help bring an end to the latest bloodshed.
"Israel understands the importance of the status quo and ... our objective is to make sure that everyone understands what that means," Kerry said in a news conference in Madrid.
Kerry is preparing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu in Germany, additionally he will meet with Jordanian King, Abdullah II and Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas likely in Amman, to try to solve the current situation in the occupied lands.
John Kerry rejected a proposal by France at the United Nations which calls for sending international monitors to the holy sites.
Following this, French ambassador was summoned by Israel on Monday, to clarify France's intention about their proposal, a foreign minister spokesperson said.
Netanyahu declared that Israel is committed to maintaining the current status quo of the Al Aqsa Mosque, which had been under the control of Muslims for a long time, while Jews were permitted to enter but not pray.
"We are not seeking a new change or outsiders to come in, I don't think Israel or Jordan wants that and we're not proposing it," Netenyahu said, "What we need is clarity."
Israel also rejected the proposal from Jordan to return the administration of Al Aqsa Mosque to Jordan, by giving power to Jordanian Islamic Endowments Authority to regulate time limits for non-Muslims who would like to visit, as was the case before the second intifida, which was sparked when former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon ordered Israeli security forces to enter Al Aqsa Mosque.
Saeb Erakat, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee said ‘’he is changing the status quo…that’s what is happening on the ground.”
“He is preventing Muslims from entering the Haram al Sharif [the Noble Sanctuary] between 7 and 11 every day and he is saying that he will not allow ministers and MKs to enter. But at the same time, he is allowing every other extremist to enter and pray in Al Aqsa Mosque,” Erakat added.
Ahmed Ruwaidi, a senior advisor to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas said barring Muslims from visiting the mosque during morning hours and on Jewish holidays is a major change in the status quo.
“That is social division. Barring us, the people of the place, from using the Aqsa,” he said.
“Netanyahu is a liar when he says that he has not changed the status quo. That is the Palestinian and Jordanian position,” he added.
From Six Days War in 1967 to 2003, the Jordanian Islamic Endowments was in charge of Al Aqsa Mosque, regulating the entry of non-Muslims. However, after former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon sent Israeli security forces to raid Al Aqsa in an attempt to change the status quo, his actions triggered the second intifida. In 2003, Israeli government decided to hand over authority of the mosque to the Israeli security forces.