(CNSNews.com) – Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that when he heard it was holding an emergency meeting on a government’s minister’s “quiet, orderly and uneventful” visit to the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – he thought world peace had broken out.
“I figured that if this important body is meeting to discuss such a trivial matter, then we clearly achieved world peace overnight,” he said. “No more war, no more violence. After all, why else would this council dedicate its time to such a menial occurrence?”
Erdan said he was disappointed to learn that a war was still raging in Europe, the Iranian regime was still killing protestors, terrorism was still rampant and totalitarian regimes were still committing atrocities
“Yet here we are discussing the peaceful, 13-minute visit of a Jewish minister to the holiest Jewish site, under the sovereignty of the liberal democracy of Israel.”
Erdan said the situation – the convening of a meeting that “creates a sense of emergency over a non-event” – reminded him of Jerry Seinfeld’s description of his popular television comedy series as “a show about nothing.”
The Security Council meeting was convened at the request of the Palestinian observer mission and with the support of council members China and the United Arab Emirates, after Israel’s new police minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, paid a brief, low-profile visit Tuesday to the Temple Mount, known by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).
The hilltop platform in Jerusalem, the historical location of the biblical Temples, includes several mosques, including Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam.
Although it falls under Israeli sovereignty and is Judaism’s most-revered site, Israeli governments since 1967 have ceded its oversight to an Islamic trust.
Millions of Muslims visit the mosques each year. Jews are permitted to visit – but under tight restrictions and at limited times, and are prohibited from praying overtly.
Although Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist, has campaigned against those restrictions and in favor of allowing Jewish prayer, he is part of a coalition government whose platform pledges that the status quo “with regard to the holy places” will be preserved.
Facing widespread accusations of changing or threatening the status quo, Israel disputes that a low-key visit by the minister – whose portfolio covers security of the site – does so in any way.
“Minister Ben-Gvir’s visit was in line with the status quo, and whoever claims otherwise is only enflaming the situation,” said Erdan. “Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount – every Jew, including the minister tasked with the security and safety of the Temple Mount.”
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour rejected Israeli and Jewish claims to the site.
“Israel has no claim, and no right to sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territory including east Jerusalem, and therefore no rightful claim over Haram al-Sharif.”
Mansour also said that the entire area of the compound, all 144,000 meters of it, “is a site that is exclusively for the worship of Muslims.”
Speaking directly to Erdan, Mansour said the Security Council “should stop you. But make no mistake, if they don’t, our Palestinian people will.”
During his statement, Erdan accused the Palestinian leadership of “weaponizing” the Temple Mount issue as he said they have weaponized international institutions in their campaign against Israel.
“They have turned the libelous slogan ‘al-Aqsa is in danger’ into a battle cry to justify terror against Jews,” he said.
In his short statement, U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood said the administration “firmly supports the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem, especially on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.”
“Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken has said very clearly that it’s absolutely critical for all sides to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, at the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount and other holy sites in Jerusalem, both in word and in practice,” Wood said. “In this spirit, we oppose any and all unilateral actions that depart from the historic status quo, which are unacceptable.”
“We note that Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu’s governing platform calls for preservation of the status quo with relation to the holy places. We expect the government of Israel to follow through on that commitment.”
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