Temple Mount Violence Sparked by ‘Palestinian Terror Groups,’ Israel Tells UN Security Council
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Monday told Security Council member countries that Palestinian extremists were responsible for the recent violence around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, while the UN’s own Middle East envoy reported to the body that the clashes were originally set off by Palestinian stone-throwers.
“The only ones breaking the status quo on the Temple Mount are the Palestinian terror groups inflaming the holy sites,” Erdan said at a Security Council meeting. “The truth on the Temple Mount has been captured by countless camera lenses. An abundance of photos and videos clearly prove that Palestinian terrorists and extremists are the only ones to blame for the violence.”
Erdan responded to recent accusations that Israel was violating a long-standing status quo at the Temple Mount by permitting non-Muslims to pray at the holy site. Speaking ahead of Erdan, Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour echoed some of those same criticisms, saying that Israel “claims” to uphold the status quo and justifies its actions under the pretext of upholding security.
“Israel is committed to the protection of holy sites and is committed to the status quo,” Erdan reaffirmed. “For this very reason, when terror groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] decide to create chaos at holy sites, Israeli police take action.”
“Israel will not allow any extremist group to violate the status quo and incite violence,” he announced.
Erdan asserted that the clashes with hundreds of Palestinians on the Temple Mount since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan posed a threat to both Muslims and Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall, which required intervention by the Israeli police.
Israeli police acted with “exemplary restraint while protecting the people and restoring law and order,” Erdan said. Israel also banned Jews from visiting the Temple Mount for the last 10 days of Ramadan and prohibited a nationalist flag march in the Old City of Jerusalem, he added.
“Nevertheless, many in the international community called for ‘calm on both sides,'” he continued. “This request is completely detached from reality. It only serves to fan the flame of violence, promote radicalization, and reward the thugs inciting the chaos.”
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland briefed Security Council member countries, describing the situation in Jerusalem as “relatively calm despite inflammatory rhetoric and violent clashes” between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around the holy sites.
Wennesland commended recent statements made by Israeli senior officials reaffirming their commitment to the status quo, that only Muslims are allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa compound.
The UN Middle East envoy reported that on April 15, a large group of Palestinians initiated violence at the compound by throwing stones, fireworks and other heavy objects at Israeli security forces. Several dozen Palestinians entered a mosque in the compound, while others continued to throw stones and fireworks, Wennesland recounted.
“Following a standoff with those inside, Israeli police entered the mosque and arrested those barricaded inside,” he said.
“Despite the tensions, overall, hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Jews and Christians have been able to celebrate the holy days in and around the Old City in relative peace and without further escalation,” Wennesland said.
Speaking at an Iftar dinner held on Monday evening with ambassadors from Abraham Accords partners, the neighboring countries with which Israel has normalized relations, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel is taking “unprecedented measures to enable freedom of worship while an extremist group — the minority — aims to harm it.”