|08AMMAN2453||2008-08-21 14:42:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Amman|
1. (C) Foreign Minister Salah Al-Bashir, in a meeting
convoked with less than a day's notice on August 21, convened
the P5 Ambassadors in his office to convey Jordan's great
concern that Israel was preparing - within the next month -
to take unilateral steps to begin construction of a new
ascent to the Mughrabi Gate entrance to the Haram
al-Sharif/Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Ambassador Beecroft attended, as did the Ambassadors from the
United Kingdom and China, and the Charges D'Affaires from
Russia and France.
2. (C) Bashir gave a rundown of the history of the Mughrabi
Gate Ascent and Jordan's equities (see reftels for details)
and complained that Israel continues to ignore Jordan and has
been circumventing the UNESCO process governing the design
and implementation of plans for a new ascent. Jordan
believes Israel will upset the status quo at the site by
expanding the prayer area for Jewish women at the Western
Wall (which abuts the ascent) and also by widening the ramp
itself. The Foreign Minister, insisting that Jordan rejects
all Israeli unilateral measures, voiced concern that if
Israel goes forward, it could create unrest among both
Palestinians and Jordanians. It could also affect both
Israeli and Palestinian internal politics adversely and
impede efforts to reach a just and lasting peace. He called
on the P5 and the international community to take effective
measures to urge Israel to halt its "illegal practices."
Note: Jordanian officials have raised similar concerns with
Post throughout this year - and told A/S David Welch in
February 2008 that the matter is "a bomb that will soon
explode." (Ref E) End Note.
3. (C) Seeking further comment, PolOff attempted to reach
MFA Policy Planner Omar Nahar, the MFA's pointman on the
issue. His secretary said he was tied up in meetings on the
Mughrabi Gate issue "with all the other Embassies in Amman."
Separately, in a conversation with PolOff on August 18,
Israeli PolCouns Itai Bardov had briefly raised the issue
himself, voicing exasperation that the Arabs would draw the
conclusion that Israel seeks to control the Haram al-Sharif.
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