‘We will not be dictated to by Hamas’ – Netanyahu denies changes made to status quo on Temple Mount

“The claim that a change has been made in the status quo is without foundation,” says a statement from the PMO amid widespread condemnation.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United Arab Emirates was postponed, but the Israeli leader denies that it has anything to do with Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s ascent to the Temple Mount Tuesday morning.

The Internal Security and Otzma Yehudit party leader’s visit to the holy site went peacefully, but condemnation from several countries and entities has been heard throughout the day.

The UAE “strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

The statement urged Israel to “halt serious and provocative violations taking place there” and “called upon Israeli authorities to assume responsibility for reducing escalation and instability in the region.”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement of its own in response to negative reaction from around the world.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to strictly maintaining the status quo, without changes, on the Temple Mount. We will not be dictated to by Hamas.

“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,” the statement read.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that Ben-Gvir entering the site on Tuesday was “a continuation of the Zionist’s occupation aggression on our sacred places and war on our Arab identity.”

“Our Palestinian people will continue defending their holy places and Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Ben-Gvir’s visit a “dangerous provocation” and urged Palestinians to “oppose his assaults aimed at turning the Al-Aqsa Mosque into a Jewish house of worship” – although the Isreali minister had never entered the mosque.

‘Unilateral action…unacceptable’: White House

“The United States stands firmly for preservation of the status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral action that jeopardizes the status quo is unacceptable,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson stated.

“The United States calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fulfill his commitment to the status quo,” he added.

“The UK remains committed to supporting the historic Status Quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem. It is important that all actors avoid actions at those sites that inflame tensions,” British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan tweeted.

The French Embassy in Israel also issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “France recalls its absolute attachment to the preservation of the status quo on the Holy Places of Jerusalem.

“Any gesture aimed at questioning it carries a risk of escalation and must be avoided.”

Jordan summons Israeli envoy

Israel’s Ambassador to Jordan Eitan Surkis was summoned for a reprimand call at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jordan.

“Jordan condemns in the severest of terms the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and violation of its sanctity,” the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem said that Ambassador Thomas Nides “has been very clear in conversations with the Israeli government on the issue of preserving the status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites. Actions that prevent that are unacceptable.”

A statement from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry also condemned Ben-Gvir’s ascent to the Mount, as did statements from Kuwait and Qatar, none of which have diplomatic ties with the State of Israel.

Turkey, which has recently been working toward fixing its strained ties with Israel, condemned what it said was “the provocative action” by the Israeli national security minister.

“We call on Israel to act responsibly to prevent such provocations that would violate the status and sanctity of religious sites in Jerusalem and cause an escalation in the region,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, the Associated Press reported.

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Religious controversy in Israel

Orthodox rabbis are increasingly divided over whether of not Jews should ascend the Temple Mount.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef criticized Ben Gvir for visiting the Mount as a government minister.

“As a minister representing the government of Israel you should be acting according to Chief Rabbinate instructions, which have long forbidden visiting the Temple Mount,” the rabbi said in a letter to the minister that circulated on the Internet.

Several prominent national religious rabbis, however, have called on Jews to visit the “permitted places” on the Mount and “in purity,” stressing the need to ascend Judaism’s holiest site and proclaim sovereignty.