UNSC Criticizes Israel over Ben-Gvir’s Storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Takes No Action

UNSC Members expressed concern and called for maintaining the status quo at the Al Aqsa mosque. (Photo: via UN website)

The UN Security Council convened on Thursday for an emergency discussion in the aftermath of Israeli Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s provocative storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The 15-member Council convened at the United Nations headquarters in New York following a joint request by the missions of Palestine and Jordan to the United Nations. The request was submitted by the United Arab Emirates and China.

UNSC members voiced concern and stressed the need to maintain the status quo at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, but did not commit to any action.

Palestine Says ‘There is No Peace without Jerusalem’

Palestine’s Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, said, “Al-Haram Al-Sharif will not fall. It will stand for generations to come. It has outlasted Begin, Shamir and Sharon and will outlast Netanyahu, Ben Gvir and Erdan”.

Mansour said Israel has no claim and no right to sovereignty over the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and therefore no rightful claim over Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

He added, in reference to the Israeli far-right, “Listen carefully to me. The Security Council should stop you. It is their responsibility. It’s the responsibility of this Council and of all States to uphold international law and the historic status quo. The SC should stop you, but make no mistake, if they don’t, our people will”.

“There is no peace without Jerusalem. The future of conflict and peace in our region will be determined in Jerusalem, not any other capital around the world. Anybody who says otherwise is either delusional or lying”, Mansour stressed.

“The historic and legal status quo, the rights of the Palestinian people and the sovereignty of the State of Palestine must be upheld.”

UAE: The Visit Moves the Region Further Away from Peace

Mohamed Abushahab, the UAE’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, said Ben-Gvir’s visit reflects a lack of commitment to the existing historic and legal status of Jerusalem’s holy sites.

“It also constitutes a serious development that moves the region further away from the desired path of peace and contributes to perpetuating the negative trends of the conflict,” Abushahab said.

US Supports Preservation of Jerusalem Status Quo

US Ambassador to the UN Robert A. Wood told the Security Council that Washington is concerned about climbing tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians, saying the administration was “concerned by any unilateral acts that exacerbate tensions or undermine the viability of a two-state solution”.

“The US firmly supports the preservation of the historical status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem, especially on the Haram al-Sharif,” Wood told the council.

He added that US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken both firmly support the status quo and that the US appreciates Jordan’s role overseeing the holy site.

China Calls on All Parties to Prevent Escalation

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun called on all parties concerned to exercise restraint to prevent an escalation of tensions in Jerusalem.

Zhang added adding that “Israel, in particular, should stop provocation and unilateral actions vis-a-vis the historic status quo of the holy sites”.

UK: Avoid Actions That Inflame Tensions

UK’s Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the United Kingdom strongly supports the historic status quo governing Jerusalem’s holy sites, which protects the sites and those who worship there, and preserves peace.

“The UK also recognizes and values Jordan’s important role as custodian of the holy sites and urges the importance of cooperation with the Jordanian authorities in this regard,” she added.

“The UK is committed to working with all parties to uphold this status quo in Jerusalem. All parties must avoid actions which inflame tensions, undermine the cause of peace, or unilaterally seek to alter the status quo.”

Woodward affirmed her country’s position on the status of Jerusalem, which “should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, ensuring that Jerusalem is the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states, with access and religious rights of all peoples fully respected.”

France Expresses ‘Deep Concern’

Nicolas de Rivière, France’s Ambassador to the UN, expressed his country’s deep concern, saying “we should do everything we can to prevent an escalation that will have dire consequences on the ground. France calls for respect for the historical status quo”.

He added that the storming of Al-Aqsa “does not serve peace. The settlement policy that puts Israel at stake must stop. We reaffirm our commitment to the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living side by side with Jerusalem as the capital of two states.”

Russia Says Ben-Gvir’s Visit is ‘Outrageous Incident’

Vasily Alekseyevich Nebenzya, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, stressed that Ben-Gvir’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque is an outrageous incident.

He added that the move cannot be viewed in isolation from the events that took place in the year 2000 after Ariel Sharon stormed Al-Aqsa, sparking the Second Palestinian Intifada.

Nebenzya reiterated his country’s refusal of any changes to the current status quo of Jerusalem as the motherland of the three monotheistic religions, and to the role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as guardian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

“We find that any tension in Jerusalem is truly a source of destabilization, not only in the Palestinian territories but in the region as a whole. In this regard, we call on the two parties to show restraint and refrain from provocative and unilateral steps,” he added.

Nebenzya expressed his hope that the new cabinet in Israel would stop confiscating Palestinian property and stop the displacement of Palestinians.

Japan Concerned about Settlement Expansion

Ishikane Kimihiro, the Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, expressed deep concern over Ben-Gvir’s move, given the already tense situation in the region.

“It is important that all relevant parties exercise restraint and refrain from any actions that inflame sentiments or rhetoric that raises tensions, including attempts to change the historical status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” he said.

He also expressed concern about the new Israeli government’s announcement of settlement expansion, in violation of international law.

He added, “Japan urges Israel to immediately stop all unilateral measures that would undermine the two-state solution.”


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