US to condemn Israel at UN Security Council meeting on Temple Mount

American officials had already joined the Arab world and European countries in saying a Jewish minister’s brief visit to the Mount “violated the status quo.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States is expected to join other countries condemning Israel at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting Thursday that is convening to discuss the brief visit of a Jewish minister to the Temple Mount earlier this week.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Minutes for some 15 minutes early Tuesday morning in a show of Israeli sovereignty, after his prior announcement that he would ascend the holiest site in Judaism led Hamas to threaten violence over such a “Zionist aggression.”

While the visit passed on the almost-empty Mount without incident, a diplomatic uproar ensued, with country after country denouncing it and the UAE and China demanding that the UNSC convene on the matter.

The U.S. joined European allies such as Great Britain and France in labeling the walk a threat to the “status quo” that was “unacceptable,” and the administration’s anger would be reflected at the UNSC, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

“We stand firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral action that departs from that historic status quo is unacceptable,” he said, adding that “we will be ready to reiterate our views to our fellow Security Council members” when it meets Thursday.

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Some Arab states, including those at peace with Israel such as Jordan and Bahrain, deliberately mischaracterized the visit as “storming al-Aqsa Mosque” and “a violation of international law,” among other extreme descriptions.

Israel’s new government rejected the wave of condemnations, with the Prime Minister’s Office immediately putting out a statement saying, “Under the status quo, ministers have gone up to the Temple Mount in recent years, including Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan; therefore, the claim that a change has been made in the status quo is without foundation.”

Erdan himself, who is currently Israel’s ambassador to the UN, slammed the Security Council meeting Wednesday as “ridiculous and unnecessary,” saying that it was taking place “only because the UN is a distorted and biased body in which Israel is discriminated against.”

He would “make it clear again tomorrow, in the debate, that Jewish visits to the Temple Mount are not a violation of the status quo,” he said firmly.

The question remains if the Americans’ displeasure will go beyond criticism at the UNSC if Israel’s foes try for a resolution against the Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority, for example, called for “urgent, serious action” against the national security minister’s walk, which it labeled a “belligerent attempt” to change “the character, status and demography” of eastern Jerusalem.

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As one of the five permanent members, the U.S. holds veto power in the UNSC, which it has used countless times to defend Israel from one-sided resolutions in the body whose motions are internationally binding.