Ramallah: According to reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was shocked by the strong reaction of the Arab National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gwil to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque complex.
After the Jan. 3 visit, Saudi Arabia led the chorus of condemnation, emphasizing the need to preserve Islam’s third holiest site as it stands.
Netanyahu’s planned January 8 visit to the United Arab Emirates has been canceled as the country joins China in calling for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss Israel’s actions on al-Aqsa.
Netanyahu is waiting for the UAE to announce a new date for his visit.
The prime minister has issued a statement attempting to apologize, adding that he respects the status quo at the mosque and has no intention of changing it.
However, Ben-Gvir remains hostile to Arabs and has been convicted by Israeli courts of terrorism against Palestinians in the past.
Israel continued its efforts to block a Security Council meeting – originally scheduled for Thursday – and to block a strong statement condemning Israel’s policies toward Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem.
Ronni Shaked, a fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Promotion of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Arab News that Netanyahu failed to appreciate Al-Aqsa’s sensitivity among Arabs and Muslims. sex.
He added that the prime minister had been appalled by the reaction from the Arab and Muslim world, the EU and the US, saying any breach of the site could lead to mass anger and instability.
“The problem is not with Ben-Gvir, who is known for his extremist ideology, but with the person who allowed him to visit Al-Aqsa, namely Netanyahu,” Shaked told Arab News.
“Ben-Gvir will try to shorten the term of the Netanyahu government.
“In two weeks, he will legalize the 49 illegal settlement outposts he has demanded to build on Palestinian land in the West Bank. So what will Netanyahu do?”
Israeli experts say Netanyahu is now focused on dealing with corruption cases against him that have undermined his standing.
However, Israel Today reporter Dana Ben-Simon told Arab News that Netanyahu and his ministers were surprised by the condemnation of Ben-Gvir’s visit, adding that the government will hold a meeting to discuss whether to allow the ministers in It’s Aqsa again.
“Netanyahu was prime minister for 10 years and didn’t visit Al-Aqsa because he realized that his visit would cause enormous outrage,” Ben-Simon said.
The prime minister will also keep an eye on Jordan’s reaction to the mosque visit as Netanyahu seeks to improve volatile relations with Amman.
Separately, authorities released 66-year-old Palestinian prisoner Karim Younis from an Israeli prison after 40 years in captivity.
At Ben-Gvir’s request, the authorities kept Younis on the street to prevent any official reception at the entrance to his prison, north of Tel Aviv.
Israeli Interior Minister Ariel Deri said he intends to revoke Younis’ Israeli citizenship. In this case, he will be sent to live in the West Bank.
Younis visited the graves of his parents who died in prison and said he was ready to sacrifice another 40 years for the freedom of the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army has informed Palestinian officials of their imminent plan to forcibly relocate more than 1,000 residents, including 500 children, of the Masafer Yatta area south of Hebron in the southern West Bank, according to human rights groups.
Israeli forces killed 16-year-old Palestinian Amer Abu Zeitoun during a raid on Nablus on Thursday. The killing brings to four the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the first week of January, including three children.