Countries, including the United States, have criticized the provocative visit of a far-right Israeli lawmaker to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, saying it threatens the status quo.

Palestinians condemned the visit of Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem as an “unprecedented provocation” and a “declaration of war.”

Early Tuesday morning, Ben-Gvir entered the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, a day after announcing he had postponed his visit due to riot warnings.

“Ben Gvir’s invasion represents an unprecedented provocation, a serious threat to the arena of conflict and a disregard for calls to end (the visit),” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry criticized the far-right official’s trip as “legitimizing further incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque by radical settlers.”

The ministry held Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible “for this brazen attack on al-Aqsa”.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeine warned that Ben Gvir’s visit “will lead to increased tension and violence and an explosive situation.”

He urged the US to “fulfill its obligations and force Israel to stop the escalation” at the Al-Aqsa Mosque “before it’s too late,” the state-run Wafa news agency reported.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called the visit a “dangerous challenge” to Palestinian sentiment.

“Declaration of War”

In Gaza, the Palestinian resistance group Hamas denounced Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Al-Aqsa compound as a “war” at the site of the fire.

“The Ben Gvir invasion is part of an ongoing aggression against holy places and a war against Arab identity,” said Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem.

“The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been and will remain a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic site,” the spokesman said.

Saleh Raafat, a member of the executive committee of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denounced Ben Gvir’s visit as a “declaration of war” on the Palestinian people.

In statements to the official Palestinian radio, Raafat called on the Arab countries that maintain official relations with Israel to “reconsider the form of these relations.”

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa is the third most important place in the world. The Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying that in ancient times there were two Jewish temples here.

Ben-Gvir holds far-right views of the Palestinians and calls for their displacement. He repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in East Jerusalem.

The far-right politician also sparked an escalation in the occupied city by opening an office in the Sheikh Jarrah area.

Last November, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned in a leaked audio clip that “the whole world is concerned” about Ben-Gvir’s extremist views.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. He annexed the entire city in 1980, which was never recognized by the international community.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan condemn Ben Gvir visit

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among the countries condemning Tuesday’s visit by Israel’s far-right new national security minister to the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem.

In a statement from the foreign ministry, the UAE, which established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, “strongly condemned the assault on the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by an Israeli minister.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Neides said Washington “made it clear to the Israeli government that it opposes any move that could damage the status quo in holy places.”

Any unilateral action that threatens the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites is unacceptable, a White House National Security Council spokesman said Tuesday after the visit.

“The United States is firmly in favor of maintaining the status quo regarding holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral action that threatens the status quo is unacceptable,” the spokesman said, adding that the US is urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to maintain his commitment to the status quo of holy sites.

Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan Majali criticized the Israeli politician for “invading the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and violating its integrity.”

Jordan has summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman to protest the “storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan al-Majali said a letter of protest had been handed over to the ambassador, which he was to immediately deliver to his government.

Jordan, which is the official custodian of Muslim and Christian shrines in Jerusalem, has previously condemned Ben Gvir’s visit, calling it a “provocative move” and a “blatant violation of international law.”

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, denounced Ben Gvir’s “provocative actions” in a foreign ministry statement.

The Arab League (AL) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also criticized the visit.

A far-right politician lobbied to allow Jewish prayer there, which was opposed by mainstream rabbinical authorities.

Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef wrote a letter to Ben-Gvir on Tuesday.

“What will people say when they see a Jewish observant minister who disregards the position of the rabbinate,” he wrote in a letter.

Israeli security forces were escorting Ben Gvir, waqf guards told Agence France-Press (AFP) as the drone hovered over the holy site.

A controversial visit in 2000 by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon was one of the main triggers for the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted until 2005.

Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount, also known as Al-Haram al-Sharif, which is home to Islamic holy sites such as the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is also revered by the Jews, as there were two temples on this site.

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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