Spain rejects Israel latest rhetoric on holy sites

Middle East Monitor  /  May 22, 2023

Spain issued a fresh condemnation of Israel on Monday, rejecting the rhetoric used by Israel’s far-right Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, at Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a statement, Madrid called on Israel to “scrupulously respect the status quo of holy sites” and for all parties to “do everything possible” to avoid fresh tensions and preserve stability.

On Sunday, Ben-Gvir forced his way into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. Once inside, he claimed Israel’s ownership of the holy site.

Several countries, including the US, Turkiye, France, Jordan, Qatar and Egypt, also condemned the provocation and the Minister’s inflammatory rhetoric.

Israel’s opposition leader, Yair Lapid, on Monday also slammed Ben-Gvir’s move, calling him “an irresponsible and fanatical man”.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents Islam’s third-holiest site. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Under the current arrangements, Jews are allowed to visit the site most days, but only Muslims can pray there.

The three most recent statements issued by Spain’s Foreign Ministry have all focused on condemning Israel, calling on the nation to stop the escalation of violence, and respect international law on two other occasions this month.