State Department slams Ben-Gvir’s ‘inflammatory’ visit to Temple Mount

The State Department slammed the national security minister’s “inflammatory rhetoric;” he had said Israel has sovereignty over Judaism’s holiest site.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The U.S. condemned National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount Sunday, during which he asserted Israel’s sovereignty over what is Judaism’s holiest site.

“We are … concerned by today’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem and the accompanying inflammatory rhetoric,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Ben-Gvir, who had deliberately refrained from joining over a thousand people who ascended the Mount during Jerusalem Day celebrations Thursday that marked the capital’s reunification in 1967, said in a short statement that he was “happy” to go to “the most important place for the people of Israel.”

“All the threats from Hamas will not help,” he continued, referring to the warnings of violence from the Gaza-based terrorist organization over Jewish visits to the area. “We are the owners of Jerusalem and the whole Land of Israel.”

Neither the threats of violence nor the frequent Palestinian riots on the Mount were mentioned in the American statement, which simply noted, “This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity.”

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In what could be seen as a counterpunch to Ben-Gvir’s assertion of sovereignty, the State Department did make a point to “reaffirm the longstanding U.S. position in support of the historic status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites and underline Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Jordan, for its part, joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas in condemning the visit in much sharper terms.

According to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, Ben-Gvir’s walk on the Mount was “a dangerous and unacceptable escalation” and “a flagrant and unacceptable violation of international law, and of the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem and its sanctities.”

Riyadh went even further, saying that the visit was “a provocation of the feelings of Muslims around the world” and that it “holds the Israeli occupation forces fully responsible for the repercussions of the continuation of these violations.”

Hamas’s Jerusalem spokesman Mohammed Hamada called on all Palestinians as well as Israeli Arabs to come en masse to the Al-Aqsa compound in order to oppose “all attempts to desecrate and Judaize it.”

Comparing Jews to animals, the terrorist group said that Israel would “bear responsibility for the barbaric incursions of its ministers and herds of settlers” over what it claimes is a solely Muslim holy site.