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“U.S. Rebukes Far-Right Israeli Ministers for Provocative Statements”

In a move that has set off a wave of condemnation, Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, intensifying tensions and drawing sharp rebukes from regional and international leaders. This controversial visit, seen by many as a deliberate provocation, has ignited concerns about the fragile state of affairs in the Middle East.

Heightened Tensions and Defiant Declarations

Ben-Gvir’s presence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, prompted swift condemnation from Palestinians, as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. The Palestinian leadership labeled it an “unprecedented provocation,” signaling potential fallout in an already tumultuous region. The far-right Israeli minister’s Tuesday visit risked exacerbating tensions with Palestinians, particularly with the Hamas group in Gaza, which governs the besieged territory. Hamas warned that Ben-Gvir’s move crossed a “red line,” signaling the potential for increased hostilities.

Despite the heavy security surrounding his visit, Ben-Gvir defiantly declared, “Our government will not surrender to the threats of Hamas.” The far-right leader has long advocated for expanded Jewish access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a stance viewed as provocative by Palestinians and a potential precursor to increased Israeli control over the compound. Notably, leading rabbis have forbidden Jews from praying at the site, recognizing the sensitivity of the location and the potential for heightened tensions. Ben-Gvir, undeterred by the criticism, took to Twitter, stating that the site “is open to all” and dismissing threats from Hamas with a bold assertion that “times have changed.”

 

Global Ramifications and Diplomatic Fallout

Following Ben-Gvir’s departure, the Arabic-speaking spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ofir Gendelman, issued a video in which he asserted that the situation at the holy site was “completely calm.” Early in the morning, a day after Ben-Gvir had apparently withdrew from his intentions, the visit looked to be a planned attempt to avoid direct confrontation and maybe prevent a Palestinian gathering at the location. That being said, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry fiercely denounced what they called the “storming” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque carried out by the “extremist minister Ben-Gvir.” Mohammad Shtayyeh, the prime minister of Palestine, called on the people to “confront the raids into Al-Aqsa mosque,” alleging that Ben-Gvir was trying to convert the hallowed site “into a Jewish temple.”

Regional allies, including Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE, all of which have peace treaties with Israel, joined the chorus of condemnation. Amman went further, summoning the Israeli ambassador and asserting that the visit had violated international law, undermining “the historic and legal status quo in Jerusalem.” Even countries with which Israel aims to forge closer ties, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, criticized Ben-Gvir’s actions. Hezbollah leader Hassan Any alteration to the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Nasrallah warned, might trigger a regional explosion that would spread beyond Palestinian territory.

Internationally, the United States, traditionally a staunch ally of Israel, issued a firm rebuke. A White House National Security Council spokesperson declared that any unilateral action jeopardizing the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites is “unacceptable.” Her spokesperson urged Netanyahu to uphold the status quo of holy sites and underlined the United States’ resolute commitment to keeping things as they are. UN Secretary-General echoed these sentiments, stressing the importance of upholding the status quo in the holy sites. In response to the growing criticism, Netanyahu affirmed his commitment to “strictly upholding the status quo, without shifts, on the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Compound]” in a statement posted late on Tuesday.

Ben-Gvir’s provocative entrance into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has reignited tensions in the region, raising concerns about the potential impact on peace efforts. As the international community closely monitors the situation, the incident underscores the delicate balance surrounding one of the world’s most sensitive religious sites. The aftermath of this controversial visit poses significant challenges for regional stability and diplomatic relations in the Middle East.

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