January 6, 2023
JAKARTA – Indonesia condemned Tuesday’s controversial visit by Israel National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound that has stirred protests from across the Arab world.
“The visit is a provocation that could trigger tensions and a fresh cycle of violence in Palestine,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. “Indonesia condemns this visit.”
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place in Islam and the most sacred site to Jews who refer to the compound as the Temple Mount. It has been a flashpoint holy site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Indonesia, the ministry said, also called on Israel “to respect the status quo that has been agreed to and to refrain from actions and provocations that harm holy sites in Jerusalem”.
Under the longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there. However, in recent years, a growing number of Jews, most are Israeli nationalists, have covertly prayed at the compound to the dismay of Palestinians, AFP reported. The compound is administered by Jordan’s Waqf Islamic affairs council while Israeli forces operate in the area and control access.
Indonesia also urged on Wednesday international society, especially the United Nations, to continue pressuring Israel to stop any actions that could affect stability and security in the region.
“Indonesia reiterates the importance of the Palestine-Israel peace process based on the principles of a ‘two-state solution’ according to parameters that had been agreed on internationally,” the ministry said.
Ben-Gvir’s visit, which comes days after he took office as national security minister, angered the Palestinians and United States’ allies in the Arab world, while Western governments warned such a move could threaten the fragile status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, AFP reported.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan Majali said Amman summoned the Israeli ambassador to “convey a protest message about the recklessness of the Israeli national security minister in storming the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque”.
Saudi Arabia condemned the “provocative practices” of Ben-Gvir while Iran called the visit a “violation of international regulations and an insult to the values and sanctities of the Muslims”.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the US was “deeply concerned” by Ben-Gvir’s visit that could “provoke violence”, while the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that a change to the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites would be “unacceptable”.
The UN Security Council will meet Thursday to discuss the controversial visit. The 15-member council will convene at 3 p.m. New York time following a request by the United Arab Emirates and China.