PA accuses Israel of trying to build a new temple on Temple Mount

The PA Prime Minister, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates all issued condemnations against Ben-Gvir's Temple Mount visit.

 Itamar Ben-Gvir. (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Itamar Ben-Gvir.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of trying to turn the Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount into the site of a new Jewish temple following Itamar Ben-Gvir's visit to the Jerusalem holy site on Tuesday morning.

Addressing his cabinet, Shtayyeh also called on Palestinians to "confront the raids into al-Aqsa Mosque" after Ben-Gvir toured the periphery of the mosque compound. However, Ben-Gvir did not approach the mosque itself.

Although Ben-Gvir had said on Sunday that he would visit the contentious site in the near future although at the time he did not confirm when this would take place.

Following his visit, it was confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken with Ben-Gvir on Monday to discuss his intention to visit the site. The Likud confirmed that, following consultations with security establishment officials, Netanyahu did not object to Ben-Gvir's pilgrimage.

This is Ben-Gvir's first trip to the Temple Mount since the November election.

Tourist visit at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, on January 3, 2023.  (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)Tourist visit at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, on January 3, 2023. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan also issued condemnations against the National Security Minister, with Saudi Arabia calling his visit "provocative."

"The foreign ministry expresses the condemnation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the provocative action by an Israeli official who stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound," the Saudi statement read, refraining from mentioning Ben-Gvir by name.

The UAE also published a statement on Tuesday afternoon condemning Ben-Gvir's visit to the holy site.

"The UAE today strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces," read the statement published in full on their Foreign Affairs Ministry website.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) reiterated its firm position on the need to provide full protection for Al-Aqsa Mosque and halt serious and provocative violations taking place there. 

"Furthermore," they wrote, "the Ministry underscored the need to respect the custodial role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the holy sites and endowments in accordance with international law and the historical situation at hand, and not to compromise the authority of the Jerusalem Endowment Administration and Al-Aqsa Mosque."

The UAE called upon Israeli authorities to assume responsibility for reducing escalation and instability in the region, and stressed "the need to support all regional and international efforts to advance the Middle East Peace Process, end illegal practices that threaten the two-state solution, and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital."

Jordan, who is responsible for controlling and managing the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, issued a strong condemnation against Ben-Gvir, saying: "Jordan condemns in the severest of terms the storming of the Aqsa mosque and violating its sanctity."

"The Temple Mount is the most important place for the Jewish people," Ben-Gvir said in a statement following his visit. "We [will] maintain freedom of movement for Muslims and Christians," Ben-Gvir stressed, adding that "Jews will climb the mountain."

"Those who make threats will be dealt with an iron fist," the minister further warned.

Turkey also condemned the act: "We are concerned by the provocative act of Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir towards Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli police and we condemn it," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

"We call on Israel to act responsibly to prevent such provocations that will violate the status and sanctity of holy places in Jerusalem and escalate tension in the region," the statement said.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides spoke to Walla News following Ben Gvir's visit, saying that the White House made it clear to the Israeli government that it opposes any step that could damage the status quo in the holy places in Jerusalem. 

"Let it be clear - we are interested in preserving the status quo and any action that prevents this is unacceptable. We said this clearly to the Israeli government," he said.

"The United States stands firmly for preservation of the status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral action that jeopardizes the status quo is unacceptable," a White House National Security Council spokesperson said, adding that the United States calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to preserve his commitment to the status quo of holy sites.

The French Embassy to Israel also issued a condemnation via Twitter, writing in French and Hebrew that "France  recalls its absolute attachment to the preservation of the status quo on the Holy Places of Jerusalem." 

"Any gesture aimed at questioning it carries a risk of escalation and must be avoided."