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UAE condemns Israel for allowing ‘provocative violations’ at Temple Mount

Israeli ally joins calls for lowering tensions at holy site after record-breaking number of Jews visit on Jerusalem Day

Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir makes his way to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City during the Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir makes his way to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City during the Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The United Arab Emirates on Monday called on Israeli authorities to reduce friction at the Temple Mount, a day after a record number of Jews were allowed to visit the holy site on Jerusalem Day.

In a statement, the UAE foreign ministry called on Israel to provide “full protection” at the site, and urged respect for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s informal role as custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites.

The statement also called for an end to “provocative violations” at the Temple Mount, and urged “maximum restraint” from Israel to avoid further instability.

According to the Israel Police, some 2,600 Jews were granted entry to the holy site on Sunday, in groups of 40-50 in two waves in the morning and afternoon. A small number of them of displayed Israeli flags and said prayers — in violation of Israel’s rules for non-Muslim visitors.

Among those who visited the site on Sunday was far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir.

The Temple Mount — which also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque — is administered by the Waqf, a religious trust run and funded by Jordan. The site is the holiest site for Jews, as the location of two biblical temples, while Al-Aqsa is the third holiest shrine in Islam, turning the area into a major flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli Border Police officers stand guard near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, on May 25, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The UAE’s statement followed condemnation from Jordan, the Palestinian Authorities and Egypt on Sunday. Egypt warned in a statement that allowing a large number of Jews to visit the site leads to an escalation of tensions.

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was “playing with fire” by allowing “settlers to desecrate holy sites.”

Jordan’s foreign ministry denounced Israel for allowing Ben Gvir and other Jewish “extremists” to visit the holy site. “The Foreign Ministry spokesperson demanded of Israel that it cease all practices and violations of the al-Aqsa Mosque,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Jordanians also condemned the “provocative, escalatory” Flag March that began later on Sunday as part of Jerusalem Day, warning it could lead to an eruption of violence.

Under an increasingly frayed arrangement known as the status quo, Jews are generally allowed to visit the Temple Mount during limited hours, but not pray there or perform other acts of worship that can be seen as provocations by Muslims.

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