Maldives condemns Israeli minister’s entry into Al-Aqsa Mosque

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir entered the Temple Mount, January 3, 2023. | Photo: Minhelet Har Habayit

Malé, Maldives – Government of Maldives has condemned the entry of Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister and leader of the Otzma Yehudit party, to the the Al-Aqsa compound.

Currently, only Muslims are officially allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa, while followers of other faiths, including Christians and Jews, can visit as tourists but have to pay.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that on January 3, 2023, Israel’s National Security Minister entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque in violation of international agreements, laws and regulations.

Foreign Ministry condemned the action as it could further destabilise the situation in the Middle East.

“Maldives condemns the attack and joins the organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in its efforts at the United Nations,” the statement said.

The Foreign Ministry said an emergency meeting of the Security Council was held on January 5 at the initiative of the OIC and some members of the UN Security Council. An OIC statement was given at the meeting.

In addition, a debate on the situation in the Middle East is scheduled for January 18th in which Maldives is set to take part.

Maldives has always advocated for the liberation of Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in violation of international law and the protection of the rights of the Palestinian people. Maldives will always stand up for the Palestinian people, the statement read.

The new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, accompanied by a heavy security detail, visited the compound that houses Al-Aqsa which has sparked a wave of international condemnation, including, unusually, from Israel’s closest ally the United States.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound lies in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem and is both the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred place to Jews.

His visit marked the first time since 2017 that an Israeli minister had gone to the site known as Haram al-Sharif by Muslims and Temple Mount by Jews.

The far-right politician is one of the more controversial members of the new Israeli Cabinet, having been convicted in 2007 by an Israeli court for inciting anti-Arab racism. He was also previously part of the violent Jewish extremist movement called Kahanism founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Although Ben-Gvir’s brief visit was without incident, it brought immediate condemnation as being “provocative” from several Arab nations, including those that have relations with Israel.