Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir marched on the Esplanade of Mosques in Jerusalem on Tuesday against warnings from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli politicians. This show of force is interpreted as a new escalation by Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. International reactions denouncing this aggression were not long in being heard.
The president of the Jewish Force party (extreme right), and new Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, entered Tuesday accompanied by numerous police forces on the Esplanade of the mosques. Before him, no minister had done so to preserve peace between the two communities.
The Esplanade of the Mosques, a holy place for both Jews and Muslims, is often the scene of attacks by the police or the Israeli army against Palestinians who come to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque.
Chaotic scenes of tear gas canisters thrown inside Al Aqsa Mosque as Palestinians pray, jets of putrid water and police officers beating worshipers often circulate in the media without Israel being bothered by international bodies, although these are serious acts undermining freedom of worship in one of the major places of worship in the Muslim world.
With this operation of force sponsored by the new Israeli Minister of Security, it is a message of provocation and defiance that he seeks to convey, not only towards the Palestinians, but towards the Muslim community of the whole world and of the countries Arabs.
This unprecedented escalation is already creating strong tensions in this new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and could call into question the Abraham Accords with the Arab countries, attached to peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
According to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) of Tel-Aviv University, which published a document on relations with Morocco, the new Israeli government should normally take several steps to honor Morocco’s efforts vis-à-vis live in Israel, claiming that “the escalation of the conflict and the perceived threats against East Jerusalem and its Muslim holy sites in particular could have a detrimental effect – as history has shownon relations with Morocco.
Thus, the authors of the research paper advised the new Israeli government “to avoid stirring up religious tensions in Jerusalem”.
This aggression by the Israeli minister goes in the opposite direction of the recommendations of the Research Institute and is already provoking strong reactions among the Israelis.
The opposition, led since December 29 by former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and former foreign minister who helped ease tensions between Israel and the Muslim world, strongly criticized Minister Ben Gvir’s decision.
He warned of the possible serious consequences of the minister’s decision. ‘Itamar Ben-Gvir cannot be allowed to climb the Temple Mount, this is a provocation that will lead to deadly violence and cost lives’warned the leader of the liberal party Yesh Atid.
“It is no coincidence that ministers have avoided visiting the Temple Mount for many years. Members of the Knesset can do this, but ministers cannot. Certainly not the minister in charge of the police added the Israeli diplomat.
The Leader of the Opposition insisted that “the world will see (this act as) a violation of the status quo, an unnecessary risk. All the experts will say the same thing”he warned, adding that “the elected government will be responsible for it”.
International reactions were quick, the American ambassador to Israel declared following this aggression that “actions that prevent the preservation of the status quo in Jerusalem are unacceptable.”
The French Embassy in Israel recalled “his absolute commitment to the preservation of the status quo on the Holy Places of Jerusalem”. “Any gesture aimed at questioning it carries a risk of escalation and must be avoided “added Paris.
The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced a ” provocation “ foreshadowing “an escalation”Saudi Arabia denounced and condemned “provocative practices”.
The United Arab Emirates condemned “the storming of the Al Aqsa mosque by the Israeli minister”and call for the need to fully protect the mosque and put an end to serious and provocative violations
The UAE Foreign Ministry also called on the Israeli authorities to reduce escalation and not take measures that exacerbate tensions and instability.
For its part, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned against “the negative consequences of the storming of the Al Aqsa mosque”and affirms his “total rejection of any unilateral measure that violates the legal and historical status of Jerusalem”
The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry for its part called on the international community to act quickly to end the Israeli violations.
These international condemnations come as Benjamin Netayahu had just affirmed on Tuesday that his government was determined to deepen the peace agreements with 6 Arab countries.