Strong condemnations after the visit of an Israeli minister to the esplanade of the Mosques

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Strong condemnations after the visit of an Israeli minister to the esplanade of the Mosques

Itamar Ben Gvir

Israeli extreme right-wing figure and new Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir conducted a brief visit to the Esplanade of the Mosques in East Jerusalem, a holy place at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, thus arousing a wave of international condemnation.

A member of the most right-wing government in Israel's history, Ben Gvir was accompanied by members of the Israeli security forces during his visit. A drone was flying over the esplanade, site guards told AFP.

After it left, the situation on the esplanade was calm. Worshipers and visitors were able to access it without incident, noted an AFP journalist.

The third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism known as the Temple Mount, the Esplanade of the Mosques is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the Palestinian sector occupied and annexed by Israel.

Under a historic status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but cannot pray there. However, in recent years, a growing number of Jews, often nationalists, surreptitiously pray there, a gesture denounced as a provocation by the Palestinians and by several countries in the Middle East.

M . Ben Gvir, known for his anti-Palestinian diatribes, had announced his intention to go there and the Palestinian Hamas, in power in Gaza and Israel's pet peeve, had warned that such a visit would risk x27;be a prelude to an escalation.

The Israeli government of which I am a member will not yield to a vile and murderous organization, retorted Mr. Ben Gvir on Twitter. If Hamas thinks threats will deter me, let them understand that times have changed.

Our Palestinian people will continue to defend their holy sites and Al-Aqsa Mosque , launched a Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qassem, describing the displacement of Mr. Ben Gvir as a crime.

This is an unprecedented provocation , said the Palestinian Foreign Ministry in Ramallah, in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.

Mr. Ben Gvir had been to the site before as an MP, but this is his first visit since he entered government last week.

Contrary to the position of the Israeli rabbinate, he pleads for Jews to be allowed to enter and pray there.

What will people say when they see a minister , a practicing Jew, flouting the position of the rabbinate? wrote Yitzhak Yossef, Sephardic Chief Rabbi, in a letter to Mr. Ben Gvir.

Jordan denounced a provocation suggesting an escalation and summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman, as the United Arab Emirates called for an end to serious and provocative violations at the site .

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest places in Islam, and Morocco, whose monarch chairs the Al Quds Committee (Jerusalem), condemned this visit.

Palestinian worshipers pray near the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. (Archives)

In Iran, a sworn enemy of Israel, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced a violation of international rules and an insult to the values ​​of Muslims in the world.

Israel's attack on holy sites in Jerusalem will not just blow up the situation inside Palestine, it could blow up the entire region, Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Tuesday evening. .

The White House has warned that any unilateral action that jeopardizes the status quo [on the holy sites in Jerusalem] will be unacceptable.

A spokesman for the US State Department said he was deeply concerned about the trip by Itamar Ben Gvir, judging that his visit was likely to exacerbate tensions and spark violence. .

For his part, the Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary General, Farhan Haq, stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo in the places saints, adding that the UN chief calls on all to refrain from taking any action that could escalate tensions in and around holy sites.

Berlin too called on Tuesday to avoid actions that could increase tensions. The status quo on this esplanade in Jerusalem has long contributed to maintaining a fragile peace and security around the holy sites, underlines on Twitter the German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he was determined to strictly maintain the status quo.

This is what happens when a weak prime minister is forced to hand over responsibility to the most irresponsible person in the Middle East in the most explosive place in the Middle East, the leader of the Middle East commented on Twitter. #opposition, Yaïr Lapid.

In 2000, the visit of Ariel Sharon, then leader of the right-wing opposition, on the opposition. esplanade led to bloody clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, marking the start of the second Intifada (2000-2005).

In May 2021, after violence on the esplanade and elsewhere in East Jerusalem, Hamas had fired volleys of rockets into Israel, leading to an 11-day war with the Israeli army.

Mr. Ben Gvir advocates the annexation by Israel of the West Bank and the transfer to neighboring countries of part of the Israeli Arabs, descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.< /p>

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