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Al Aqsa: Arab, Muslim outrage leaves Benjamin Netanyahu in shock

Netanyahu has also cancelled his scheduled visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 08, 2023. Read More

Friday January 6, 2023 7:42 AM, ummid.com with inouts from Agencies

Al Aqsa: Arab, Muslim outrage leaves Benjamin Netanyahu in shock

Occupied Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in shock and disbelief following the strong condemnation of his Cabinet colleague’s visit to Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Occupied Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has also cancelled his scheduled visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 08, 2023. His office though said there is no connection between Netanyahu’s UAE visit cancellation and far-right Israeli Minister Ben Gvir’s visit to Al Aqsa Mosque Tuesday.

Talking to Arab News, Ronni Shaked, a researcher at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said Netanyahu was shocked at the reaction from the Arab and Muslim world, the EU and the US, saying that any violation of the site could lead to massive anger and instability.

“The problem is not with Ben-Gvir, who is known for his extremist ideological ideas, but rather with one who granted him the permission to visit Al-Aqsa, which is Netanyahu,” Shaked told Arab News.

Earlier, King Salman of Saudi Arabia led the all-round condemnation that erupted after Israel’s far-right Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, entered the Al Aqsa Compound in Occupied Jerusalem.


While the Saudi King called Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Holy Site “provocative”, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh cast it as a bid to turn the mosque complex “into a Jewish temple.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry went a step further in calling Ben Gvir’s visit to Al Aqsa as “raiding” and “storming” the site which is holy to Muslim, Christians and Jews.

Jordan along with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a representative body of 57 Muslim countries had also joined the chorus denouncing the Israeli minister's visit to Al Aqsa.


Confirming that Netanyahu and his ministers were surprised by condemnation of Ben-Gvir’s visit, Dana Ben-Shimon, a correspondent for Israel Today, said that the government is set to hold a meeting to discuss whether to allow the minister to enter Al-Aqsa again.

“Netanyahu was prime minister for 10 years, and did not visit Al-Aqsa because he realized that his visit would generate massive anger,” Ben-Shimon said.

The prime minister will also be mindful of Jordan’s reaction to the mosque visit as Netanyahu bids to improve rocky relations with Amman.

US calls for de-escalation

A senior UN official meanwhile called for de-escalation of tensions following Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Occupied Jerusalem.

"As we have seen numerous times in the past, the situation at Jerusalem's holy sites is deeply fragile, and any incident or tension there can spill over and cause violence throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, in Israel, and elsewhere in the region," warned Khaled Khiari, UN assistant secretary-general for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.

Also Read | King Salman leads all-round condemnation as Israeli Minister 'raids' Al Aqsa Compound

"With that reality in mind, I reiterate the secretary-general's call for all parties to refrain from steps that could escalate tensions in and around the holy sites, and for all to uphold the status quo, in line with the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," he told the Security Council in a briefing on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Jerusalem holy site has been administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian body, since 1948. After Israel took over Jerusalem in 1967, it was obliged to respect the status quo and not to make any changes to the laws and institutions in occupied East Jerusalem. According to a 1967 agreement between Israel and Jordan, non-Muslim worshippers can visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound but are prohibited from praying there.

Also Read | UN asks ICJ to judge illegal occupation of Palestine, Israel fumes

Ben-Gvir's visit on Tuesday was the first to the site by an Israeli minister since 2017. While the visit was not accompanied or followed by violence, it is seen as particularly inflammatory given Ben-Gvir's past advocacy for changes to the status quo, said Khiari.

Ben-Gvir, known as an ultra-nationalist, was sworn in as Israel's national security minister last week, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new extreme-right coalition government took office.

Over the past several days, the United Nations has remained in close contact with relevant parties to de-escalate the situation, and these engagements will continue in the coming days and weeks.

"At this sensitive moment, all efforts to lower tensions should be encouraged, while provocations, inflammatory steps, unilateral actions and threats of violence must be categorically rejected. Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to lower the flames and create the conditions for calm," said Khaled Khiari

"The UN remains ready to assist and support these efforts”, he added.

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