Iran, China, Turkey, and many Arab states strongly rebuked Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, for entering Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday.
On this Tuesday and in a provocative move, Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, entered Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyard in occupied East Jerusalem. The move was quickly met with harsh criticism even by Arab states that are currently in the path of normalization with Israel, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia.
What fueled the flames of Ben Gvir’s controversial appearance to Al-Aqsa was his tweet after the visit, in which he posted a picture of himself in the Mosque’s courtyard and wrote: “The Temple Mount is open to all,” using the Jewish name for referring to the site. An accompanying photograph showed him strolling at the periphery of the compound, surrounded by a clutch of bodyguards and flanked by a fellow Orthodox Jew.
The controversial visit took place while a day earlier on Monday, the Palestinian movement Hamas warned Israel that it “won’t sit idly by” if the new security minister visits Al-Aqsa Mosque,” as Ben Gvir had announced to do so a day before on Sunday.
It was kind of expected that after the visit, countries such as Iran and Qatar react with condemnation as they did so. However, what was a bit of a shock even for Ben Gvir himself was the harsh reactions by countries that are either Israel’s long-time friends, such as the United States, or are in the path of normalization with Israel, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and even China.
Israel under criticism from every corner
First of all, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh rebuked the visit as the start of a project to turn a major mosque there “into a Jewish temple”, calling on Palestinians to “confront the raids into al-Aqsa mosque.” A spokesman for Hamas, a group that controls Gaza, also reacted and said of the visit: “A continuation of this behavior will bring all parties closer to a big clash.”
Saudi Arabia also condemned the visit as a “provocative action” and, without referring to him by name, said Ben Gvir had “stormed” the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Likewise, and despite signing a normalization agreement with Israel in 2020, the UAE echoed Saudi words regarding the “storming” of the holy site, condemning the Israeli minister’s action.
Ben-Gvir’s actions appear to have irritated Israel’s allies as well, as a White House National Security Council spokesperson said on Tuesday that any unilateral action jeopardizing status quo of Jerusalem holy sites is unacceptable in the eyes of Washington.
Turkey also joined the band of countries condemning Ben Gvir and on Tuesday, called the visit a “provocative act” by Israel’s new far-right national security minister.
“We are concerned by the provocative act of Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir towards Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli police and we condemn it,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
Good to mention that Ankara’s statement came amid efforts by Turkey and Israel to normalize ties, after a four-year deterioration in relations, and mutual appointment of ambassadors.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani strongly condemned the desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque by Ben Gvir and said that any act of aggression against the holy site will face a firm response from the Muslim world. Last but not least, China called for a UN Security Council meeting after Ben Gvir’s visit to the Mosque and widely denounced the move.
All these reactions from every corner of the world made Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to eat the humble pie by issuing a statement late on Tuesday, promising that he was “committed to strictly maintaining the status quo, without changes”, on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.