At a Security Council meeting on Thursday, representatives from Israel and Palestine traded scathing insults over the contentious visit of an Israeli minister to the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, referred to the meeting as “pathetic” and “absurd,” while the Palestinian representative charged that Israel was acting “with total disrespect.”
Following a request by the United Arab Emirates and China, the 15-member Council met at UN headquarters in New York to consider the visit, which has infuriated Palestinians.
Ahead of the session, Israel’s permanent representative to the world body, Gilad Erdan, told reporters there was “absolutely no reason” for the meeting to be held.
“To hold a Security Council session on a non-event is truly absurd,” he said.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s new national security minister, visited on Tuesday, which prompted a wave of international criticism, notably from the US, a longtime ally of Israel.
The third holiest site in Islam is the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is located in east Jerusalem that Israel has seized. Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount, and it is the most sacred location to them.
Non-Muslims are currently permitted to visit the location only during particular hours, despite the fact that some Israeli nationalists are rumored to be secretly praying there, which enrages the Palestinians.
Erdan said Ben-Gvir’s visit was “in line with the status quo and whoever claims otherwise is only inflaming the situation.”
“To claim that this brief and completely legitimate visit should spark an emergency Security Council session is pathetic,” he added.
Western governments warned such moves threaten the fragile arrangement at Jerusalem’s holy sites.
The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, accused Israel of acting “with absolute contempt” for the Palestinians, the Council, and the entire international community.
He called on members of the Council to take action against Israel.
“What red line does Israel need to cross for the Security Council to finally say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and to act accordingly?” Mansour asked.
US diplomat Robert Wood told the meeting that America opposes “any and all unilateral actions that depart from the historic status quo, which are unacceptable.”
“We urge both Israelis and Palestinians to take the necessary steps to restore calm, prevent further loss of life and preserve the possibility of a two-state solution,” to peace in the Middle East, he said.
Over the years, the UN Security Council has enacted a number of resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is in favor of a two-state solution to bring about Middle Eastern peace.
Following the conclusion of the two-hour meeting, Mansour expressed his satisfaction with what he called the “unanimity (of the Council) to protect the status quo,” adding that he did not anticipate any other significant action from the global organization.