Israel draws fire from allies over flag march
The United States and nearly all of Israel's Middle East allies issued statements condemning Jerusalem over the visits politicians made to the Temple Mount and the controversial annual march.
The United States and nearly all of Israel’s Middle East allies issued statements last Thursday condemning Jerusalem over the visits politicians made to the Temple Mount and the controversial annual march by religious nationalists through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, which was again marred by violence and racism toward Palestinians.
The foreign ministries of Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Turkey each issued statements rebuking Israel over the “storming” of the Temple Mount, which Muslims refer to as the Noble Sanctuary.
The statements by Jordan and Egypt also criticised the decision to hold the so-called flag march.
The lawmakers who visited the Temple Mount were Negev and Galilee Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf and MK Yitzhak Kroizer – both from the far-right Otzma Yehudit party – as well as Likud MKs Dan Illouz, Amit Halevi and Ariel Kallner.
They were also among the nearly two dozen lawmakers who later on Thursday attended the Yom Yerushalayim flag march, which is meant to mark Israel’s reunification of East and West Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Footage posted online by an activist on Thursday morning showed a Jewish group openly praying on the Temple Mount, contravening informal understandings known as the status quo, under which Jews are allowed to visit the site – at certain hours, under strict restrictions and through a predetermined route – but not to pray there.
Jordan blasted the “provocative actions” as “unacceptable”, noting that they took place “under the protection of the Israeli police”.
Jordan also warned Israel against allowing the “provocative and escalatory” flag march to go ahead – a warning Jerusalem declined.
“Israel has no sovereignty over Jerusalem and the holy sites, and East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian land,” Jordan said.
As part of their 1994 peace treaty, Israel agreed to recognise Jordan’s “special role” in administering Muslim and Christian holy sites, though Amman considers itself to be a formal custodian, as does much of the international community.
Many Muslims deny any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and view all Israeli presence there as a provocation.
Egypt similarly condemned the Temple Mount visits by Israeli politicians as well as the flag march route through the Damascus Gate and Muslim Quarter, which are overwhelmingly used by Palestinians. Critics say the rally is designed to provoke Palestinians, who are forced by the Israel Police to shutter their shops to allow for the demonstration.
As it did in the past two years, the Biden administration ahead of Thursday urged Israel to reroute the march away from the Muslim Quarter.
The US State Department statement focused on the flag march, rather than the Temple Mount visits, saying, “We continue to urge all parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from provocative actions or rhetoric that inflames tensions. This certainly includes racist statements and actions, as well as violence.
“We unequivocally condemn racist language of any form. Hateful chants such as ‘Death to Arabs’ are outrageous and unacceptable,” it continued.
“As Israel’s close partner and friend, we call on the Israeli leadership to condemn such vile language,” the State Department said.
Different groups of flag march participants clashed and beat Palestinian locals and harassed journalists. They also sang racist chants such as “Death to Arabs”, “May your village burn” and “An Arab is a son of a b**ch”, as they danced near the Damascus Gate both before and during the rally on Thursday afternoon.
TIMES OF ISRAEL