Sunday 26, March 2023

Israel brands United Nations meeting on Al-Aqsa visit ‘absurd’

Time International Desk: Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations slammed a Security Council meeting on the controversial visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound by an Israeli minister as ‘pathetic’ and ‘absurd’ Thursday.

The 15-member Council discussed the visit, which has enraged Palestinians, at the United Nations headquarters in New York following a request by the United Arab Emirates and China.

Ahead of the session, Israel’s permanent representative to the world body, Gilad Erdan, told reporters there was ‘absolutely no reason’ for the meeting to be held.

‘To hold a Security Council session on a non-event is truly absurd,’ he said.

Tuesday’s visit by Israel’s new national security minister, firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir, sparked a wave of international condemnation, including from the United States, a longstanding ally of Israel.

Al-Aqsa mosque lies in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and is the third-holiest site in Islam. It is the most sacred place to Jews, who refer to it as Temple Mount.

Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there.

In recent years, a growing number of Jews, most of them Israeli nationalists, have covertly prayed at the compound, a development decried by Palestinians.

Western governments warned such moves threaten the fragile arrangement at Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Erdan said Ben-Gvir’s visit was ‘in line with the status quo and whoever claims otherwise is only inflaming the situation.’

‘To claim that this brief and completely legitimate visit should spark an emergency Security Council session is pathetic,’ he added.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour accused Israel of acting ‘with absolute contempt’ for the Palestinians, the Council, and the entire international community.

He called on members Council to take action against Israel.

‘What red line does Israel need to cross for the Security Council to finally say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and to act accordingly?’ Mansour asked.

US diplomat Robert Wood told the meeting that America opposes ‘any and all unilateral actions that depart from the historic status quo, which are unacceptable.’

‘We urge both Israelis and Palestinians to take the necessary steps to restore calm, prevent further loss of life and preserve the possibility of a two-state solution,’ to peace in the Middle East, he said.

The UN Security Council has adopted several resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years and supports the two-state solution to peace in the Middle East.

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