“Palestinian terrorists” are responsible for the violent riots on the Temple Mount during the last weeks, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the United Nations Security Council in New York on Monday.
Those who blame both sides for the violence have created a false equivalency, he warned.
“The only ones – the only ones – breaking the status quo on the Temple Mount are the Palestinian terror groups inflaming the holy sites,” Erdan said.
His words echoed those of other Israelis, including Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who also insisted that Israel was upholding the status quo on the Temple Mount, in which Jews and Christians can visit but cannot pray.
Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour, who spoke before Erdan, said that, “Clearly, Israeli officials are the only ones to believe [Israel’s] actions are anything but a flagrant violation of the historic status quo."
“A few days ago, Israeli occupying forces stormed al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif, shooting at worshippers and desecrating the mosque with military boots and violence,” Mansour said. “Two hundred Palestinians were wounded, among them women and children; 400 were arrested.”
The Jordanian representative charged that “Israel, the occupying power, bears responsibility for what is happening in Jerusalem,” as he recalled that his country has a special custodial relationship with the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif.
Erdan, in contrast, told the 15-member body during its meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that “Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists rioting on the Temple Mount posed a threat to both Muslims and Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall, and therefore the Israeli police had to intervene.”
Erdan explained to the UNSC that he had wanted to show video footage to back up his words, but rules governing the council’s debate prevented such displays.
Prior to the Security Council meeting, Erdan played a video of the violence for reporters, saying that the cameras do not lie. He made similar statements in the UNSC chamber.
“They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and the truth on the Temple Mount has been captured by countless camera lenses,” Erdan explained.
Palestinian rioters, he said, “defile their mosque with rocks and firebombs. They desecrate it with barricades made of trash. They sully it with riots and violence. All for the sake of hijacking the holy site and inflaming Jerusalem in order to gain political favor within Palestinian society.”
There are UNSC members, he noted, who were quick to embrace the lie that the violence was Israel’s fault.
“Many in the international community called for ‘calm on both sides,’” Erdan said as he explained that such a demand was “completely, completely detached from reality.”
“The very notion that mobs of violent rioters motivated by radical Islamic terror groups could be placed on the same moral scale as a law-abiding democracy making every effort to keep the peace, is ludicrous,” he said.
“In fact, such comparisons play directly into the web of lies spun by the terror groups,” Erdan said. Israel on the Temple Mount acted with restraint, and has taken steps to de-escalate the situation by forbidding Jews from visiting there during the last ten days of Ramadan, he explained. It also prohibited an Israeli flag march in the Old City.
He categorized as a false claim that Israel has allowed Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.
“Number two: Israel is committed to the protection of holy sites and is committed to the status quo, according to which, Muslims can pray on the Temple Mount while Jews and Christians may only visit,” Erdan said. “There isn’t and there has never been any intention to change the status quo.”
United State Deputy Ambassador Richard M. Mills appealed to “all sides to exercise maximum restraint, avoid provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo.
“We urge Palestinian and Israeli officials to work cooperatively to lower tensions and ensure the safety of everyone, and we welcome recent steps taken in this regard,” he said.
“We acknowledge the special role that is played by Jordan, as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, and its engagement with all parties to prevent further escalation.”