The United States delivered a stern message of condemnation to Israel Thursday just as the United Nations Security Council convened for an emergency session to discuss Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
United States Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told the UNSC that the Biden administration holds Israel responsible for maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and any steps that undermine it are unacceptable.
“We oppose any and all unilateral actions that depart from the historic status quo, which are unacceptable,” Wood told reporters.
The ambassador also mentioned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s governing platform calls for the “preservation of the status quo with relation to the holy place.” Woods said the administration expects the Israeli government to “follow through on that commitment.”
“The U.S. firmly supports the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem, especially on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount,” Wood said.
Woods words during a special session to condemn National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s 13-minute visit to the Al Aksa Mosque compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the Old City on Tuesday, a move that the international community viewed as a violation of the status quo there.
He also noted the necessity for all sides to “exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, at the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount and other holy sites in Jerusalem, both in word and in practice.”
The ambassador acknowledged the “special role” of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which oversees Jerusalem’s holy sites. In response to the UNSC, Israeli officials have said that Ben-Gvir’s visit was not a violation of the status quo.
“The redundant discussion that took place in the UN Security Council yesterday crosses a major red line in its blatant interference in the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” said Danny Danon, who served as Israel’s 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations and currently serves as Chairman of the World Likud, told The Foreign Desk.
“Moreover, it lends validity to the ongoing murderous Palestinian terrorism. The State of Israel is sovereign in Jerusalem, and only Israel will determine policy in our capital city. No discussion or decision of the Security Council will sever the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and their holiest site, the Temple Mount,” Danon said.
Israeli officials familiar with the UNSC decision said that the issue was antisemitism, because what bothered the Palestinians and Muslims was that Jews had set foot on the site, even though it was where their Temple had stood during biblical times. These officials also noted that the Temple Mount has been turned into a staging ground for Palestinian terrorists to store arsenals, rocks, and explosives to attack Jewish visitors and security forces.
For the past several years, supporters from Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have had a heavy presence in the Al Aqsa Mosque, staging anti-Israel rallies and vowing to wipe out the state of Israel at all costs.
In response to Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials condemned the visit and called on the international community to act against Israel. Officials like PA Ambassador Riyad Mansour warned against a Palestinian uprising to protect such actions.
“Israel advocates freedom of all religions and, on this basis, grants every Israeli citizen the right to visit the holiest place for the Jewish people, just as Arabs and Christians can visit their holy sites. I suggest the UN Security Council stop wasting its time dealing with non-issues of the only democracy in the Middle East and more with the world’s brutal dictatorships, such as that of the Ayatollahs in Iran, who these days are slaughtering their own people,” said Danon.