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January 5, 2023 3:21 pm
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Israel’s UN Ambassador: Emergency Security Council Meeting on Temple Mount Visit ‘Pathetic’

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avatar by Andrew Bernard

Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan speaking at a press stakeout ahead of an emergency UNSC meeting on Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Temple Mount visit (5 January, 2023 – Screenshot)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan on Thursday slammed the emergency UN Security Council meeting on an Israeli minister’s visit to the Temple Mount as “pathetic” and based on a “fabrication.”

“To hold a Security Council session on a non-event is truly absurd,” Erdan said at a press stakeout before the meeting. “Israel’s Minister of National Security’s visit to the Temple Mount lasted 13 minutes in a peaceful and orderly fashion, without causing any destruction. This visit was not an incursion into Al-Aqsa or any other fabrication that the Palestinians branded his visit. Minister Ben-Gvir’s visit was in line with the status quo, and whoever claims otherwise is only inflaming the situation.”

Thursday’s Security Council meeting was requested by the United Arab Emirates and China following National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount on Tuesday.

Ben-Gvir’s was the first visit by an Israeli minister to the Temple Mount since 2017, when Erdan received a security briefing there as public security minister following a terrorist attack. The UAE, which established relations with Israel as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, joined Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Arab states in condemning the visit, which they described as the “storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard.”

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While Erdan did not mention the UAE by name in his speech to the Security Council, he contrasted the Palestinian Authority with countries promoting religious tolerance.

“There are some countries that believe in religious tolerance and they are building, right now, interfaith complexes where Jews, Christians, and Muslims can pray side by side,” Erdan said. “Tragically the Palestinian terror authority prefers violence over tolerance.”

The UAE is currently constructing a mosque, church, and synagogue in Abu Dhabi in a single complex called the Abrahamic Family House that is set to open this year.

United States Deputy Permanent Representative Robert Wood in his speech to the council said the US was opposed to any “unilateral actions” that depart from the status quo on the Temple Mount.

“We note that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing platform calls for preservation of the status quo with relation to the holy places,” Wood said. “We expect the government of Israel to follow through on that commitment.”

Under the status quo, Jews may visit the Temple Mount, but not pray there. Ben-Gvir has argued that that is “racial discrimination” against Jews. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate holds that entering the Temple Mount area is forbidden under Jewish law.  

Erdan argued before the meeting that it was the Palestinians, not Israel, who threatened the status quo on the Temple Mount.

“The Palestinian Authority is making it clear that not only is Jewish prayer intolerable on the Temple Mount, but so is any Jewish presence,” Erdan said. “This is what changing the status quo looks like and this is pure antisemitism. This institution and the Security Council in particular must stop legitimizing the Palestinians’ lies and promoting their false and dangerous narrative.”

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