The Arab League, which convened on Monday to discuss the situation in the Middle East, with a focus on Palestine, has called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to take “clear steps” against provocative Israeli actions in Jerusalem.
Maged Abdel-Fattah, the Arab representative to the UN, told the Security Council that “the Israeli government is continuing its colonial policies in flagrant defiance of international will and of UNSC resolutions, including Resolution 2334.”
Abdel-Fattah called for building on the results of the fourth meeting of the Arab Ministerial Committee for the Defence of Jerusalem in confronting Israeli violations held last week in Jordan.
Resolution 2334, in December 2016, states clearly that Israeli settlement of occupied land violates international law.
“Israel has continued its ferocious attacks against the Palestinian people, violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque by supporting extremist settlers who attacked the mosque and worshippers during the holy month of Ramadan,” Abdel-Fattah continued.
A day earlier, while meeting in Cairo, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan had underlined the legal and historical status of Al-Aqsa Mosque and called for sustained efforts to restore calm.
They also called for the Hashemite Kingdom’s historic role as custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem to be respected, and for a halt to all Israeli measures that undermine the viability of a future two state solution.
As well as the situation in Jerusalem, the three leaders discussed ways to enhance trilateral relations and other pressing regional matters, including the impacts of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the region.
A diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity warned that post pandemic economic problems and the war in Ukraine should not be allowed to distract attention from the Palestinian crisis.
“Arab countries, and especially Egypt and Jordan given the direct impact of the issue on them, have no choice but to remind the world of the plight of the Palestinians and their right to an independent state within the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
This is the second time the three leaders have met this year. In March they gathered in Al-Aqaba in Jordan, along with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
This week’s trilateral meeting came less than a week after Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri headed to the Jordanian capital Amman to attend the emergency meeting of the Arab Ministerial Committee for the Defence of Jerusalem. The committee condemned Israeli attacks and violations against worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on the UNSC to assume its responsibilities for maintaining international peace and security and implement all resolutions pertaining to East Jerusalem.
The committee mandated Arab foreign ministers and Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul-Gheit to coordinate with Arab capitals to clarify to the international community the dangers posed by Israeli practices in Jerusalem.
“Israel is violating a centuries-old policy according to which non-Muslims may visit Al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third most sacred site after Mecca and Medina, but not pray there,” Abul-Gheit said.
The committee, which included Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Qatar, Morocco, and the UAE, called for removing all restrictions on the Jordanian Department of Endowments in supervising the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the visits of non-Muslim to Al-Aqsa area.
In a related development, King Abdullah discussed recent efforts to stem the violence in Jerusalem with US President Joe Biden.
Both men underlined the need to preserve the historic status quo of Al-Aqsa.
Last week, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and met senior US State Department officials touring the region to discuss ways to reduce the tensions. Safadi later stated that he had received assurances Israel would stop Jewish worshippers entering Al-Aqsa during in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Jerusalem, and especially the area around Al-Aqsa Mosque, is the most sensitive site in the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. Tensions this year have been heightened by Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish celebration of Passover.
More than 50 Palestinians were injured and hundreds arrested late last week in clashes with Israeli police within the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. At least 25 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and dozens wounded since clashes started more than two weeks ago.
The surge of violence in Jerusalem has raised fears of a repeat of last year’s war in Gaza.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 April, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.