Following a request by UAE and China, 15-member council agrees to discuss Israeli security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s provocative visit to the compound of Islam’s third-holiest site in occupied East Jerusalem.
The UN Security Council [UNSC] will meet to discuss the controversial visit to occupied East Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound by a far-right Israeli minister that has enraged Palestine, the Middle East and countries beyond the region.
The 15-member council will convene at 3:00 pm at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday following a request by the United Arab Emirates and China.
There have been fears Tuesday’s visit by Israel’s new national security minister, firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir, could spark a war.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres, reiterated on Wednesday that the Secretary General “calls on all to refrain from steps that could escalate tensions in and around Jerusalem.”
“It is the international community that decides the fate of defending and protecting the historic status quo in Jerusalem in the defense of the Islamic and Christian sites in Jerusalem,” Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said.
“We will not be satisfied with beautiful statements which will be uttered tomorrow in the Security Council. We want them to be implemented in a concrete way,” Mansour said.
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.
Illegal settler leader’s controversial visit
In recent years, a growing number of Israeli nationalists and illegal settlers, have covertly prayed at the compound, a development decried by Palestine.
Many countries have warned such moves threaten the fragile arrangement at Jerusalem’s holy sites.
Ben-Gvir’s visit sparked a wave of international condemnation, including from the United States, a longstanding ally of Israel.
The UN Security Council has adopted several resolutions on Israel’s occupation of Palestine’s lands over the years and supports the two-state solution to peace in the Middle East.
Ben-Gvir and his allies hope to grant immunity to Israeli soldiers who shoot at Palestinians, deport rival lawmakers and impose the death penalty on Palestinians convicted of attacks on Jews or illegal settlers.
Ben-Gvir is the disciple of a racist rabbi, Meir Kahane, who was banned from Parliament and whose Kach party was branded a terrorist group by the United States before he was assassinated in New York in 1990.
A lawyer by training, Ben Gvir first became known for defending young Jewish extremists suspected of terror and hate crimes.
In 2016, he represented two young extremists charged with the murder of a Palestinian family in the occupied West Bank village of Duma following an arson attack.
The case, where 18-month toddler Ali Dawabsheh was killed alongside his parents after Molotov cocktails were flung into their homes, caused an international uproar that led to an indictment – but in fact, most cases of settler violence against Palestinians are rarely prosecuted.
Ben-Gvir himself lives in an illegal settlement near Hebron in the occupied West Bank.