Jordan condemns Itamar Ben-Gvir's 'scandalous' Al Aqsa Mosque visit

Kingdom has longed cautioned Israel against more provocations in the holy city

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's new Minister of National Security. AFP
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Jordan condemned a visit by hardline Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, calling it a breach of international law.

A photograph of Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new National Security Minister, at the site has raised tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, days after the swearing-in of a far-right government led by veteran politician Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians are seeking an independent state including all three areas.

"The storming of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque by one of the Israeli ministers and violating its sanctity is a provocative, condemned move," Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan Al Majali said.

"It represents a scandalous and unacceptable violation of international law."

There was evidence that the compound was stormed and Mr Ben-Gvir, a politician known for anti-Palestinian rhetoric, was not photographed inside the actual mosque, which is is one of the holiest places of Islam.

Jordan has long cautioned for years against Israeli actions that could undermine the delicate balance in occupied East Jerusalem and risk a repetition of wider violence linked to Israeli transgressions in the disputed city.

"Israel has to bear full responsibility for the dangerous repercussions of this escalation, which undermines all the efforts aimed at curbing violence," Mr Al Majali said.

Last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah said Israel's new government must refrain from increasing pressure on Palestinians in Jerusalem or undermining the kingdom’s influence in the city.

But he left the possibility open for Jordan to work with the new government in Israel, if it promotes peace and regional economic projects.

The king said Jordan would respond if Israel moved to alter the situation in Jerusalem, including Jordan’s custodianship of holy places there.

The 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel says the country respects a “special role” for Jordan in Muslim sites in Jerusalem, but does not directly endorse the kingdom’s claims of custodianship.

Updated: January 03, 2023, 11:37 AM