Officials representing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tuesday condemned a visit by Israeli Minister of Security Itamar Ben Gvir to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Although Gvir toured several courtyards and did not enter the mosque, both countries accused Israel of needlessly escalating tensions in the already volatile region.Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Dr. Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf criticized the “provocative storming” of the compound. Al-Hajraf said Gvir’s actions “undermine international peace efforts and contradict international principles and norms in respect of religious sanctities.” Saudi Arabia does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel and supports Palestinian efforts to establish a two-state solution.UAE officials reaffirmed their commitment to a two-state solution. They called for Israel to “assume responsibility for reducing escalation and instability,” and to respect holy sites in accordance with international law. The UAE established full diplomatic relations with Israel as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords. However, the UAE does not recognize Israeli control of the West Bank or East Jerusalem, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.The visit was not the first by Gvir, but was his first as a Minister of Israel’s new, far-right government. Gvir leads the Otzma Yehudit party, which supports the platform of a united Israel with no land allotted for a Palestinian state. In their mission statement, the party promises an, “uncompromising fight against the enemy.” After his visit, Gvir commented, “The Temple Mount is open to everyone,” choosing to call the site after its Jewish name. The area is home to holy Christian, Islamic and Jewish sites.

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