The ultranationalist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the site just a few days after taking office, which provoked a furious response from Palestinian leaders.
Ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir made a provocative visit to a Jerusalem holy site that is sacred to Jews and Muslims as one of his first actions as Israel’s minister of national security on Tuesday. He defied Hamas’ threats of repercussions and provoked a furious response from the Palestinian leadership as well as condemnations from the Arab world.
The visit under weighty watchman to the site, a regular blaze point in the Old City of Jerusalem where past Israeli activities have set off more extensive fires, was the main by such an undeniable level Israeli authority in years, and passed without occurrence. However, given that it occurred just two days after Mr. Ben-Gvir assumed office, it served as an early indication of the challenges that Israel’s new government—its most right-wing and religiously conservative to date—will face both domestically and internationally.
Palestinians and many Muslims in the area see these visits to the site, especially those made by Israeli politicians with nationalist and religious agendas, as part of an effort to change the site’s status and give Jewish worshippers more rights there.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was held accountable for what it referred to as a “flagrant assault” on the holy site, according to the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, which described the visit as “an unprecedented provocation.”
Mr. Ben-Gvir had been warned that his visit to the site would be “a detonator,” which would set off an explosion, by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, the coastal Palestinian enclave where Israel has fought several wars in recent years.
At a time when escalating violence is taking place in the occupied territories, Mr. Ben-Gvir’s visit brought to light the new coalition’s promise of an uncompromising approach to the Palestinians. According to the internationally recognized principle of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some senior officials have called for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank, which Palestinians consider to be part of their future state.
Eli Cohen, the new Israeli foreign minister, said that the Palestinian leadership should be tried in The Hague for war crimes on Monday at the ceremony that marked his first day in office. His comments came after the Unified Countries General Gathering decided on Friday to support a goal mentioning that the Worldwide Official courtroom intercede and deliver an assessment on the Israeli occupation and the condition of the contention.
Mr. Ben-Gvir went to the Noble Sanctuary, which is the compound that contains Al Aqsa Mosque and other important Islamic shrines, and Temple Mount, where two ancient temples used to be, is revered by Jews.
During the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israel conquered the compound, which was the most sacred place for Jews and the third most sacred place for Muslims. Jews and non-Muslim tourists are permitted to visit under an uneasy arrangement that has been in place for decades under Jordanian custody, but they are not permitted to pray there. In the interest of maintaining public order, the Israeli police have long enforced this norm, which has been deteriorating in recent years.
Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly given assurances that there has been no change in the status quo at the site, and the official rabbinical authorities state that it is prohibited for Jews to enter the compound out of concern that they might accidentally step on forbidden holy ground.
However, religious nationalists are increasingly making it a point to visit the mount and demand that Jews have equal access to prayer there; Mr. Ben-Gvir went routinely prior to turning into a pastor, frequently on occasion of high pressure.
Israel’s most important ally, the United States, has warned against altering the arrangements at the site. Last month, Antony J. Blinken, the Secretary of State, stated that the Biden administration would “unequivocally oppose any acts that undermined the prospects of a two-state solution.”
He went on to say that such an act would be “disruption to the historic status quo at holy sites.” That position was reaffirmed by the US ambassador to Israel on Tuesday.Even though Israel has established diplomatic ties with countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco in recent years and has maintained decades-old peace treaties with neighboring Egypt and Jordan, the new government’s hardline policies may also have an impact on Arab states.
In an interview with CNN last week, King Abdullah II of Jordan said that if Israel tried to change the status of the holy site in Jerusalem, he was ready to get “into a conflict.” The Palestinian Foreign Ministry promised to “follow it up at all levels” in coordination with Jordan following Mr. Ben-Gvir’s visit.
The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a vehement condemnation of Mr. Ben-Gvir’s actions on Tuesday, stating that the visit and Israel’s ongoing incursions into the occupied West Bank were indicators of “further escalation” and “a dangerous trend that the international community must work to stop immediately.”
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, a major player in the Muslim world, both condemned Mr. Ben-Gvir’s visit. The goal of Mr. Netanyahu’s new government is to establish open diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. Morocco stated that it was closely following the situation, and Egypt issued a warning about the “negative repercussions of such measures on security and stability.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister’s office released a statement stating that he was “committed to the strict preservation, with no change, of the status quo on Temple Mount.” However, it also stated: We won’t cede to the directs of Hamas.”
Mr. Ben-Gvir, who has a track record of provocative behavior and has been found guilty of supporting a terrorist organization and encouraging racism, had made it clear that he intended to visit the site as a minister. He wrote on Twitter on Sunday, his first day in office, “The Temple Mount is important, and as I said, I intend to ascend the mount.”
However, the visit’s timing was deliberately kept a secret, likely to prevent Palestinian protesters from gathering at the location to confront him.