Palestinians: Changing status quo at Temple Mount a ‘declaration of war’

Palestinian officials warned that Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir’s intention to visit the Temple Mount would lead to violence.

 A man place a Palestinian flag on the Golden Dome after Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan, at the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, April 22, 2022. (photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)
A man place a Palestinian flag on the Golden Dome after Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan, at the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, April 22, 2022.
(photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

Any attempt by Israel to change the status quo at al-Aqsa Mosque compound (the Temple Mount) or to “annex” parts of the West Bank will be considered as a declaration of war, the Palestinian Authority said Monday.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s intention to visit the Temple Mount would lead to violence, Palestinian officials warned.

Ben-Gvir on Sunday said he would visit the site in the near future.

“The repeated Israeli threats to change the historical status quo in the Aqsa Mosque would have serious consequences for everyone.”

Nabil Abu Rudaineh

“The repeated Israeli threats to change the historical status quo in the Aqsa Mosque would have serious consequences for everyone,” PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said. He reiterated the Palestinians’ opposition to allowing Jews to pray at the site.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday “discussed” with Ben-Gvir the latter’s intention to visit the site, Channel 12 reported. The contents of the discussion were not made public, and Ben-Gvir intends to visit the site in the near future, the report said.

 Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben Gvir at the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022.  (credit: TEMPLE MOUNT ADMINISTRATION) Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben Gvir at the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022. (credit: TEMPLE MOUNT ADMINISTRATION)

Such a visit by Ben-Gvir would be considered a provocation and lead to violence and the loss of life, opposition leader Yair Lapid said Monday.

A visit to the site would be seen as a change in the status quo because cabinet ministers usually refrain from visiting the site, especially a national security minister, the former prime minister said at a press conference ahead of Yesh Atid’s weekly faction meeting.

“As weak as Bibi is, he must this time stand up and tell [Ben-Gvir] not to visit the Temple Mount, since people will die,” Lapid said.

Abu Rudaineh said settlement activities in the West Bank and the ongoing “daily killings” of Palestinians would also lead to serious repercussions.

“All these complex issues lay the foundation for a new tense and turbulent phase, which will undoubtedly be a different historical phase,” he said. “The occupation must be well aware that Jerusalem will always remain the key to security and peace.”

The real test for the US administration was regarding its position toward the current “extremist policy of the Israeli government, as well as its position on implementing the decisions of international legitimacy, most notably [United Nations] Resolution No. 2334,” Abu Rudaineh said.

Adopted in 2016, the resolution states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity.” The resolution demands that Israel halt such activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have committed to the two-state solution and to promoting equal measures of freedom, justice, security and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike, Abu Rudaineh said.

It was time to turn these statements into reality on the ground before it is too late, he said, adding that such dangerous policies, if they are not stopped by serious American pressure, will lead to a deterioration of the situation.

Palestinians denounce Israel's Itamar Ben-Gvir's plans to visit the Temple Mount

PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh and other Palestinians denounced Ben-Gvir’s intention to visit the Temple Mount.

“Ben-Gvir’s threat to storm al-Aqsa Mosque as security minister is a blatant and shameless challenge that requires a Palestinian, Arab and international response.”

Hussein al-Sheikh

“Ben-Gvir’s threat to storm al-Aqsa Mosque as security minister is a blatant and shameless challenge that requires a Palestinian, Arab and international response,” Sheikh said.

Mahmoud al-Habbash, religious affairs adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said Ben-Gvir’s intention to visit the Temple Mount would ignite a “religious war.” The Palestinian leadership was taking steps in the international arena to “expose the practices and policies of the occupation government,” he said.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions urged Palestinians to “defend” al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli government would be held responsible for any escalation “if al-Aqsa Mosque is harmed,” senior Hamas official Haroun Nasser al-Din said. The Palestinians would foil any attempt to impose a new reality at the site, he added.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad said Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount would be seen as a declaration of war on the mosque.

Ben-Gvir does not only represent himself, “but the fascist government that has declared war on the Palestinian people,” senior Islamic Jihad official Daoud Shehab said in a statement. The actions of the Israeli government would lead to “an open intifada with the Zionist entity,” he said.

Shehab called on Palestinians to thwart the planned visit to the site.