Israeli actions on Temple Mount unacceptable, US tells UNSC

Israel has insisted that Ben-Gvir’s visit was not a violation of the status quo, but in New York, the 15-member body said that it felt otherwise.

 THE UNITED NATIONS Security Council holds a regular meeting on the situation in the Middle East, focusing on Israel in relation to the Palestinians.  (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
THE UNITED NATIONS Security Council holds a regular meeting on the situation in the Middle East, focusing on Israel in relation to the Palestinians.
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

The Biden administration holds Israel responsible for maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and any steps that undermine it are unacceptable, United States Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told the UN Security Council.

We oppose any and all unilateral actions that depart from the historic status quo, which are unacceptable,” Wood said.

He noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing platform “calls for preservation of the status quo with relation to the holy places. We expect the government of Israel to follow through on that commitment.”

The United States firmly supports the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem, especially on the [al-]Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount,” Wood explained.

“We oppose any and all unilateral actions that depart from the historic status quo, which are unacceptable"

United States Deputy Ambassador o the UN Robert Wood

UN holds special meeting to condemn Ben-Gvir’s Temple Mount visit 

He spoke at a special meeting held late Thursday to condemn National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s 13-minute visit Tuesday to al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the Old City, a move the international community has viewed as a violation of the status quo there.

 Israeli far right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir walks together with other Jews during a visit to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City May 29, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/SINAN ABU MAYZER) Israeli far right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir walks together with other Jews during a visit to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City May 29, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/SINAN ABU MAYZER)

Under the terms of that status quo, anyone can visit but only Muslims can pray there. The ancient site is Judaism’s holiest site and is the third most important one for Muslims.

Israel has insisted that Ben-Gvir’s visit was not a violation of the status quo, but in New York, members of the 15-member body said that it felt otherwise.

Wood underscored that “it’s absolutely critical for all sides to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, at the [al-]Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and other holy sites in Jerusalem, both in word and in practice.”

He also acknowledged the “special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites.” The meeting adjourned without any vote or the issuance of any statement on the matter.

The United Arab Emirates along and China had asked for the debate to be held on behalf of the PA and Jordan.

Emirati envoy Mohamed Issa Abushahab called for UNSC to issue a clear statement against Ben-Gvir’s Temple Mount visit.

“We in the Security Council must adopt a unified position against any actions that would inflame tensions or escalate the situation in the region,” including those of Ben-Gvir, he said.

But the meeting adjourned without the issuance of a statement or taking a vote.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the Security Council that the anger against Ben-Gvir was an example of antisemitism. What bothered the Palestinians and the Muslims was that Jews had set foot on the site, even though it was where their Temple had stood in biblical times, he said.

“The Palestinians have turned the Temple Mount into a battleground time and again,” Erdan said. “The mosques are used as arsenals where terrorists keep rocks and explosives to attack Jewish visitors and security forces,” he added.

“The hallowed ground is used as a platform for Palestinian incitement, poisoning the minds of the youth and stoking the flames of violence,” Erdan said. He referred to the Palestinian Authority as the “Palestinian Terror Authority” and charged that it had weaponized the status quo, leveling false accusations to justify terror attacks against Jews, he said.

In the eyes of the PA, a Jew who sets foot on the Temple Mount deserves to be met with violence,” Erdan stated. “Jews will continue to visit the Temple Mount and whoever believes in tolerance and coexistence should support that,” he added.

Palestine: Israel crossed a 'red line'

The Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador Riyad Mansour asked what “red line” Israel had to cross before the international community would “act” and say “enough is enough.”

He warned against a Palestinian uprising to protect such actions. Ben-Gvir, who is convicted of incitement and support for terror groups and who is known “for his racist views,” is pushing to end the historic and legal status quo, that [is] his objective, Mansour said.

“Al-Haram, al-Sharif will not fall, it will never fall, it will stand for generations to come,” Mansour said.

The holy site has outlasted former Israeli prime ministers such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon and will outlast Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir and Erdan, said Mansour.

“Those who pursue the temporal and spatial division of al-Haram or plan to overtake it, do not comprehend the sensitivity of this holy site for billions of people in all corners of the globe,” Mansour said.