Jordan condemns Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's third visit to Al Aqsa

Far-right National Security Minister was joined by fellow Israeli politicians

Israel National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attends Tisha B'av prayers in the Old City of Jerusalem. EPA
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Jordan’s Foreign Ministry condemned a far-right Israeli minister’s “dangerous” visit to Al Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem on Thursday.

In a statement, the ministry said National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's presence, under Israeli police protection, could “escalate the situation into more rounds of violence” and warned against "the dangerous consequences" of such a visit.

Mr Ben-Gvir made his third trip to the site on Thursday, for the Jewish mourning day of Tisha B’av, which marks the destruction of both ancient Jewish temples that were situated in the compound.

Jordan, through the Jerusalem Waqf, an organisation responsible for managing Al Aqsa, struck a “status-quo” agreement with Israel after the latter captured Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967.

The agreement puts strict controls on visits by non-Muslims, banning other faiths from praying there or accessing the site outside official visiting times.

The visit, considered a high provocation to Muslims, was celebrated by far-right Israeli supporters.

Mr Ben-Gvir, who was joined by other Israeli politicians, said the site was “the most important place for the people of Israel where we need to return and show our governance”.

As the minister was visiting, Israeli forces prevented Muslim worshippers from accessing the area, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Tensions at the site, the third holiest in Islam and holiest in Judaism, have led to wider fighting throughout the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The compound holds Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the site at which the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have ascended to heaven.

The visit of an Israeli government minister, especially in the case of Mr Ben-Gvir who has a history of anti-Arab rhetoric, is controversial.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry described the minister’s visit as part of plans to “Judaise” the site and therefore all of Jerusalem, which has long been central to all three Abrahamic faiths.

Hamas, the militant organisation that governs Gaza, also condemned the visit, saying Palestinians “will defend the identity of blessed Al Aqsa Mosque and protect its Islamic and Arab character at all costs”.

Updated: July 27, 2023, 11:01 AM