Arab states slam Israeli flag march, storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Arab states slam Israeli flag march, storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
Israeli extremists, including Knesset members, stormed occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound ahead of a far-right 'Flag March'.
3 min read
19 May, 2023
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem was stormed soon after a 'flag march' by Israeli extremists [Nick Brundle Photography/Getty-file photo]

Arab states have condemned the storming of occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday by Israeli extremists, including members of the Israeli Knesset, during an annual Israeli "Flag March".

The far-right rally passed through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City and saw extremists chant "Death to Arabs". Palestinians and journalists were attacked at the march, which drew tens of thousands.

"Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the storming of an Israeli minister, parliamentarians, and settlers into the courtyards of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, as part of the so-called Flag March," Doha's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"It considers it a flagrant violation of international law and the Hashemite [Jordanian] guardianship over the holy places in occupied Jerusalem."

Qatar did not name the minister in question. However, Israel's Negev and Galilee Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf reportedly stormed the Al-Aqsa compound ahead of the march.

"Attempts to prejudice the religious and historical status of Al-Aqsa Mosque are not only an attack on the Palestinians, but also on millions of Muslims around the world," the Qatari statement added.

Jordan, which has custodianship over Christian and Muslim sacred places in Jerusalem, condemned the Al-Aqsa storming and called the Flag March "provocative and escalatory".

"Israel has no sovereignty over Jerusalem and the holy sites, and East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory," Amman's foreign ministry said in a statement published to Twitter.

Turkey "strongly condemned" the storming of Al-Aqsa, saying attempts made to worship there "once again" breached the status quo arrangement in place at the site.

This understanding stipulates that only Muslims may pray at the site, while members of other faiths are allowed to visit without performing religious rituals.

"We reiterate our call on the Israeli government not to allow such provocative actions and, to that end, we expect the necessary measures for the preservation of [the] status quo in the holy places to be taken seriously and without delay," Ankara's foreign ministry said.

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry issued a statement on Twitter slamming "the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by one of the members of the Israeli occupation government and members of the Knesset under the protection of Israeli security".

Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain – countries which, like Jordan and Turkey, have diplomatic ties with Israel – also issued condemnations.

"The UAE strongly condemned the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by a member of the Israeli government, members of the Knesset, and extremists under the protection of the Israeli police," said a press release on its foreign ministry's website.

The ministry also urged "respect" for Jordan's role at holy sites.

Bahrain also "strongly condemned" the storming of Al-Aqsa and said the Jordanian role at holy sites must not be "prejudiced".

Egypt noted the storming of the site came within the framework of the 'Flag March' in its condemnation, posted as a statement on Twitter.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller drew attention to some of the language used at the Flag March.

"The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form. We condemn the hateful chants such as 'Death to Arabs' during today's marches in Jerusalem," he tweeted.

In a statement reported by The Times of Israel news website, the State Department quoted US President Joe Biden.

"As President Biden said, 'Jerusalem is central to the national visions of both Palestinians and Israelis' and 'must be a city for all its people,'" the department said.

"As Israel's close partner and friend, we call on the Israeli leadership to condemn such vile language."