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UN Security Council to hold emergency session on Ben Gvir’s visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

Israeli PM: ‘The claim that a change has been made in the status quo is without foundation’

Illustrative - Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs the Security Council at United Nations Headquarters, New York, July 18, 2019 (Photo: Shutterstock)

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting to discuss Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s Tuesday visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

After Ben Gvir’s visit to Judaism’s holiest site prompted international condemnation, the United Arab Emirates and China, which are both on the U.N. Security Council, asked the international body to “deal with” the matter.

The emergency session will be held at 3 p.m. EST, according to the Palestinian envoy to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, reported WAFA, the Palestinian News and Information Agency. 

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas says he wants the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to condemn Israel, and the P.A. is currently extending its lobbying efforts towards that purpose. 

The U.N.’s Council of Arab Ambassadors is meeting with the U.N.’s Islamic Group prior to the emergency session, and a joint Palestinian Arab-Islamic delegation will meet with the UNSC president. 

Other meetings will be held between the Non-Aligned Movement – a non-U.N. international forum with 120 member states – and the Palestinian committee to the United Nations – titled “the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.”

Israel sought to lobby UNSC members against holding the emergency session but is now focused on trying to convince the council members not to end the meeting with the issuance of a joint statement criticizing Israel, according to a UNSC member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, The Times of Israel reported

However, the diplomat said that the U.S. could possibly agree to issue a statement if it perceives it as “balanced.”

“The Biden administration might be swayed to sign off on what it perceives as a balanced statement in favor of maintaining the so-called status quo at the Jerusalem holy site,” the diplomat said.

Following Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount, which was markedly peaceful in and of itself, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price made a statement in support of keeping the Temple Mount status quo.

Currently, Israel allows Muslims to visit and pray on the Temple Mount, whereas Jews are allowed to visit during specific time windows, but not to pray or to perform religious rituals there, a fact Ben Gvir denounced as “racist discrimination.” 

The policy preventing Jewish worship is commonly referred to as the status quo.

“We stand firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral actions that depart from that historic status quo are unacceptable,” Price said. 

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, as it is believed to be the location of both the First and Second Temples. It is also the third holiest site in Islam. The Temple Mount plaza houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. 

On Monday, official spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, warned Israel that changes in the status quo would amount to a “declaration of war with serious consequences for everyone.”

Similarly, Hamas, the terror organization which controls the Gaza Strip, vowed that a visit by Ben Gvir to the Temple Mount would cause Hamas to send missiles into Israel and unleash violence in general. On Tuesday night, a rocket was fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, but it landed inside Gaza, causing no injuries or damage.  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying that Ben Gvir’s visit did not violate the status quo.

Israel remains committed to “strictly maintaining the status quo” at the site, said his statement. “The claim that a change has been made in the status quo is without foundation.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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