The HQ of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo. Photo : Al-Ahram
“Egypt has expressed regret that an official at the new Israeli government stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque while accompanied by extreme elements under the protection of the Israeli forces,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the extreme-right Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who had stormed Al-Aqsa compound numerous times as Knesset member and is known for his violent rhetoric against Palestinians, stormed the compound for the first time as minister.
Egypt also affirmed its categorical rejection of all unilateral measures that violate the legal and historic status quo of Jerusalem, the foreign ministry statement said.
“Egypt has warned of the negative repercussions of these measures on the security and stability in the occupied lands and the region and on the future of the peace process,” the ministry said.
Egypt also calls for all parties to “exercise self-restraint, act responsibly and refrain from any measures that could inflame the situation,” the statement added.
The storming of Al-Aqsa by Ben-Gvir comes only days after the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in on Thursday.
The Palestinain presidency condemned the Israeli minister's visit to the mosque compound, calling on the United States to force the Israeli authorities' to halt the escalation "before it is too late."
Egypt: Need to resume peace negotiations
Meanwhile, in a phone call with PM Netanyahu on Sunday to congratulate him on his inauguration, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed the necessity of refraining from any unilateral measures that would lead to tensions and complicate the regional scene.
The Egyptian president also affirmed to Netanyahu the importance of achieving a fair and comprehensive peace between the Palestinian and Israeli sides in a way that contributes to achieving security and prosperity for all peoples of the region.
El-Sisi also stressed to Netanyahu Egypt’s keenness to continue intensified efforts to resolve the Palestinian cause, maintain Palestinian-Israeli calm and resume negotiations between the two sides.
Cairo has repeatedly condemned Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Egypt supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem as part of a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Along those lines, Cairo has steadfastly opposed Israeli settlement expansion policies in East Jerusalem which aim to displace the Palestinian residents of the city in order to change its demographic composition.
Egypt has warned that such practices undermine efforts to reach peace between the two sides.
Tensions in occupied territories
At dawn on Tuesday, the Israeli army killed a 15-year-old boy in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, making him the third Palestinian victim of deadly Israeli army raids in less than three days in the occupied West Bank.
In 2022, more than 150 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in raids on Palestinian towns and villages.
Meanwhile, 26 Israelis were killed during the same period.
In December, the United Nations said 2022 was the deadliest year in the West Bank since 2005.