UN Security Council to discuss Israel minister Ben-Gvir's storming of Al-Aqsa compound
The UN Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the controversial storming of occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir that has enraged Palestinians.
The 15-member council will convene at 3:00pm (2000 GMT) at the United Nations headquarters in New York following a request by the United Arab Emirates and China.
There have been fears Tuesday's storming of the Al-Aqsa compound by Ben-Gvir, Israel's new national security minister, could lead to an escalation.
The Palestinian foreign ministry called Ben-Gvir's attendance at the site a "serious threat", while countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE also slammed the move.
Al-Aqsa Mosque lies in East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally annexed in 1980. It is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most-scared Muslim place in Palestine.
Jews refer to the compound as the Temple Mount and consider it their holiest site, though a significant proportion – particularly from the ultra-Orthodox community – believe praying there violates religious law.
Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there.
In recent years, a growing number of Jews, most of them Israeli nationalists, have covertly prayed at the compound, a development decried by Palestinians.
Western governments warned such moves threaten the fragile arrangement at Jerusalem's holy sites.
"The Kingdom of Morocco, whose monarch chairs the Jerusalem Committee, calls for preserving the legal and historical status quo in the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque"https://t.co/RKdUphgsKW— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 4, 2023
Ben-Gvir's Tuesday attendance at Al-Aqsa was criticised by the United States, a longstanding ally of Israel.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN chief António Guterres, reiterated on Wednesday that the Secretary-General "calls on all to refrain from steps that could escalate tensions in and around Jerusalem".
The UN Security Council has adopted several resolutions on the Israel-Palestine conflict over the years and supports the two-state solution.