24 April 2019
Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdul Nasser Abul Bassal in February instructed the Jerusalem Awqaf Department to study the best possible means of utilising the Bab Al Rahma (Gate of Mercy) building with the aim of keeping it permanently open.
The gate leading to the building in Al Aqsa Mosque complex, which has been shut by Israel for the past 16 years, was reopened in that month and hundreds of Muslims entered to pray for the first time since 2003.
The gate had been the cause of days of tension between the Muslim religious authorities and Israeli forces, culminating in Israeli forces arresting dozens of Palestinians, including top officials and employees from the Jerusalem Awqaf Department and boosting the security presence in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Abul Bassal asked the director general of the Jerusalem Awqaf Department to “take the appropriate decision regarding the best use of Bab Al Rahma”, which would remain open as an endowment library, headquarters for Awaqf Council meetings, headquarters for King Abdullah’s endowment and a place to perform congregational prayers, according to Petra.
Separately the ministry affirmed that Al-Rahma gate is an “integral, non-negotiable and non-shareable part” of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The ministry said that the “Israeli escalations” against the Muslim Waqf (Endowment) Council in Jerusalem was “an intimidation of the Awqaf Council members and direct targeting of the Hashemite (Jordanian) guardianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
“The Israeli barring of awqaf officials as a tool to pressure the council to interfere in Al Aqsa Mosque affairs is unacceptable,” Minister Abdul Bassal stressed.
The Jerusalem Awqaf Department, which is affiliated with Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, has the sole authority to manage the affairs of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.