Arab states have strongly condemned Tuesday’s visit by ultranationalist Israeli cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to a site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound or Noble Sanctuary. Jordan has led the charge as the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, under a 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Jordan’s King Abdullah has traveled to the United Arab Emirates for consultations with the country’s president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on the recent development. Both the UAE and China have called for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to address what Arab states call the infringement of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and by Jews as the Temple Mount, their holiest site.
The visit by Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s new national security minister, has drawn fierce criticism from across the Muslim world and a strong rebuke from the United States.
Jordan, the custodian of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, summoned the Israeli ambassador in Amman, saying the visit had breached international law and “the historic and legal status quo in Jerusalem.” Jordan has warned the new Israeli government against increasing pressure on Palestinians in Jerusalem or trying to undermine Jordan’s influence there.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said his government favored “strictly keeping the status quo” at the holy site. But Arabs have called the visit “provocative.”
King Abdullah told CNN in a December interview that while he is willing to work with Israel’s new far-right government, it should be very careful about testing what he called “red lines.”
“I always like to believe that ‘let’s look at the glass half full.’ But we have set red lines, and if people want to push those red lines, then we will deal with that," said the king. "
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he is seeking condemnation from the U.N. Security Council over Ben Givr’s action. Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on all parties “to refrain from steps that could escalate tensions in and around the holy sites” in Jerusalem.