UN Security Council to discuss Ben-Gvir visit to Temple Mount

The UAE and China requested the meeting on behalf of Jordan and Palestinian Authority after condemnations poured in from all sides over the “provocative” visit.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The UN Security Council will be conferring over Tuesday’s appearance of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on the Temple Mount that angered Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as the White House.

The request made by the UAE and China for the international body’s senior forum to discuss the visit by the right-wing minister will likely be honored on Thursday, Reuters reported.

By initiating the meeting, the UAE doubled down on its statement that “strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces.”

The Jewish state should also “lower the flames of escalation and not to take steps that would worsen tensions and shake stability in the region,” the Emirates added.

Abu Dhabi also reportedly postponed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first official visit to the country because of the incident, although this reason was disputed by the prime minister’s office.

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Ben-Gvir arrived at the Mount unannounced and with only one companion early Tuesday morning, which coincided with Asara b’Tevet, the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, a fast day marking the beginning of the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem that led to the destruction of the First Temple. He spent 15 minutes walking around the site under heavy guard, which passed without incident.

Despite the brevity of his stay, the PA deemed it an “attack on Al-Aqsa” Mosque – although Ben-Gvir did not enter the mosque – and Jordan summoned the Israeli ambassador about what it said was a breach of international law that violated “the historic and legal status quo in Jerusalem,” according to Reuters. Amman called the visit a “provocative step” for which Israel bears the “dangerous” consequences, Kan News reported.

The UAE brought the issue to the Security Council upon their joint request, being the only Arab state sitting on the Council as one of its temporary members for the years 2022-2023.

Palestinian media reported that PA President Mahmoud Abbas intends to address the Council, which is expected to consist of many statements denouncing Israel for its “provocative” behavior in “not maintaining the status quo” at Judaism’s holiest site. American officials made similar charges, going so far as calling Ben-Gvir’s ascent to the Mount “unacceptable.”

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Netanyahu’s office pushed back at its critics, saying in a statement that the status quo has been “strictly maintained” for years at the Temple Mount and that it allows ministers to go there.

In general, all Jewish visitors are allowed to visit the site, but for limited hours each day and without praying, even though their theoretical right to the freedom of worship has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Ben-Gvir, who frames the issue of visiting the Mount as one of Jewish sovereignty over its holy site and equal rights for all faiths, did not pray during his short walk.