Palestinian envoy: “What red line does Israel need to cross for the Security Council to finally say, enough is enough?”
Members of the United Nations Security Council expressed concern and stressed the need to maintain the status quo at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, but did not commit to any action days after Israel’s new far-right security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, made a controversial visit to the site, which Palestinian leaders called “an unprecedented provocation.”
The decades-old status quo at the Al Aqsa Mosque complex only allows for Muslim worship at the site, which is Islam’s third holiest after Mecca and Medina.
But the site is also revered by Jews, who call it the Temple Mount. Israel’s far-right groups have long tried to change the status quo and allow Jewish prayer at the site. The far-right has also called for a Jewish temple to be built in place of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour pushed for the Security Council to take action Thursday against Israel over Ben-Gvir’s provocative actions. Israel’s new security minister is well known for racist incitement against Arabs, opposition to Palestinian statehood, and settler raids on the Al Aqsa Mosque compound and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor, James Bays, reporting from UN headquarters in New York, said Security Council members had expressed concern about the situation at the Al Aqsa compound and the dangers of escalation “but their words were measured and limited, with little direct criticism of Israel.”
The Palestinian ambassador, Bays said, expressed dismay that the council was not taking any action and warned the council that the situation could turn into an uprising.
“The 15 members of the Security Council reaffirmed, as they always do, their commitment to a two-State solution. However, in recent days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his new government supports the continuation of settlements on Palestinian land, further undermining that internationally desired outcome,” Bays said.
A senior UN political affairs official, Khaled Khiari, told the council meeting that it was the first visit to the site by an Israeli cabinet minister since 2017.
“While the visit was not accompanied or followed by violence, it is considered particularly inflammatory given Mr. Ben-Gvir’s past advocacy for changes to the status quo,” he said.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN slammed the Security Council meeting as “pathetic” and “absurd.”
Before the session, Israeli representative Gilad Erdan. He told reporters there was “absolutely no reason” for the meeting to take place.
“Holding a Security Council meeting on an event is not truly absurd,” he said.
Erdan said Ben-Gvir’s visit was “in line with the status quo and whoever says otherwise is only inflaming the situation.”
“To claim that this brief and completely legitimate visit should lead to an emergency session of the Security Council is pathetic,” he said.
Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, which have peace treaties with Israel, condemned what they called Ben-Gvir’s Al-Aqsa “assault.”
Amman summoned the Israeli ambassador and said the visit had violated international law and “the historic and legal status quo in Jerusalem.”
The United States, which is committed to a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was “concerned about any unilateral act that exacerbates tensions or undermines the viability of a two-state solution,” U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Robert Wood told the council on Thursday.
“We note that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing platform calls for the preservation of the status quo over holy sites. We expect the government of Israel to live up to that commitment,” Wood said.
The UN Security Council has adopted several resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years and supports the two-state solution for peace in the Middle East.
Source: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES