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UN Security Council expresses concern about Al Aqsa mosque's status quo

Temple Mount

New York: The UN Security Council has stressed the need to maintain a status quo at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. The members expressed concern over the issue after Israel's new far-right security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the holy site.

An Israeli official clarified that Ben-Gvir's visit complied with the arrangement that allows non-Muslims to visit the site but not worship. Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said the Security Council should take action against Israel for the visit, reported Reuters.

"What red line does Israel need to cross for the Security Council to finally say, enough is enough," said Mansour.

The status quo has only allowed only Muslims to pray at the mosque for decades. However, the site is also of importance to Jews who call it the Temple Mount. It is considered to be the holiest site in Judaism and the site of two biblical temples.

It was the first visit to the site by an Israeli cabinet minister since 2017. Senior UN political affairs official, Khaled Khiari told the Security Council that the visit was not accompanied or followed by violence. However, it is seen as inflammatory because of Ben-Gvir's past advocacy for changes to the status quo.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked all parties to refrain from steps that can escalate tensions in and around the holy sites. Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan responded to the issue by saying Jews are permitted to visit the holiest site in Judaism. "It is the right of every Jew, every Jew. Israel has not harmed the status quo and has no plans to do so."

US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood said the US is committed to a two-state solution and is concerned by any unilateral acts that exacerbate tensions or undermine the viability of a two-state solution. "We note that Prime Minister Netanyahu's governing platform calls for the preservation of the status quo in relation to the holy places. We expect the Government of Israel to follow through on that commitment," he said.

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TAGS:JerusalemUN security councilAl Aqsa mosquetemple mountItamar Ben-Gvir
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