UK minister reiterates support for preserving status quo, Jordanian custodianship at Jerusalem Muslim holy site

UK minister reiterates support for preserving status quo, Jordanian custodianship at Jerusalem Muslim holy site
2 min read
Jerusalem
12 January, 2023
Lord Ahmad's visit was preplanned but gained importance after Israel's Itamar Ben Gvir entered the Muslim holy site, prompting wide condemnations from around the world.
It is Lord Tarik Ahmed's first visit to the region since his appointment as the UK Minister for the Middle East. [Palestinian Muslim Awqaf department]

Lord Tarik Ahmad, the UK Minister for the Middle East, has asserted the "UK's unwavering support for Jordanian Custodianship of Jerusalem's Holy Sites & for the Status Quo."

The British minister is currently visiting Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

On Thursday morning, Lord Tarik Ahmad visited the Muslim holy site of the  Haram al-Sharif in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he met with Palestinian officials from the 'Muslim Awqaf department', which manages the sacred site. 

"He toured the entire site and prayed Duha," Sheikh Omar Kiswani told The New Arab

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib and Sheikh Omar Kiswani accompanied the minister during his visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

"We hope [the minister's] visit will positively preserve the status quo," Sheikh Kiswani added. 
 
The UK minister's visit comes less than ten days after Israel's far-right national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir briefly entered the holy site under heavy Israeli police protection. 

Lord Tarik Ahmad's visit was "pre-planned," a British Consulate officer in Jerusalem told TNA

It is his first visit to the region since his appointment as the UK Minister for the Middle East. 

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 "Lord Ahmad will visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) to understand the challenges facing Palestinians, reinforcing the importance of the bilateral relationship and see first-hand the impact of UK development and humanitarian support in the West Bank," a press release read. 

The press statement added that Lord Ahmad would announce £3.7m (US$4.5 million) of additional funding to UNRWA to support food assistance to 1.2 million of the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees in Gaza. 

The UK does not recognise Palestine as a state. In a recent vote at the UN General assembly, the UK voted against a request by member states for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. 

On Wednesday, Lord Ahmad met Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen and economy minister Nir Barakat. He also met the Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Maliki in Ramallah.