Egypt's FM calls on Israel to stop violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque; dismayed by inaction of UNSC

MENA , Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 May 2021

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made the call during an extraordinary meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held online to discuss the mounting Israeli aggression in East Jerusalem

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

Egypt called on Tuesday Israeli authorities to end all violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque and stop attempts to evict residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem from their homes.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made the call during an extraordinary meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held online to discuss the mounting Israeli aggression in East Jerusalem.

"Egypt will not stand idle towards what is going on in the holy city," the top diplomat said, adding that Israel's attacks against defenseless worshipers run counter to international law, undermine efforts to reach a two-state solution and seriously threaten regional security and stability.

“… it provokes our feelings to see this holy spot turned into a war zone at the hands of the Israeli forces, where the unarmed worshipers were insulted and subjected to beating and arrest instead of being protected to worship freely and safely,” he added.

Israeli police have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulted worshippers, leaving more than 300 Palestinians injured in clashes.

Tensions and violence have escalated in East Jerusalem, captured and occupied by Israel in a 1967 war, amid Israeli plans to evict Palestinian families from lands claimed by Jewish settlers.

Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at Palestinians at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, where most of the injuries took place, on Friday after the evening prayers.

Thousands of Palestinian worshippers gathered for prayers at the mosque and many of them remained after that to protest the planned eviction of Palestinian families at Sheikh Jarrah district.

Sheikh Jarrah, a fight for identity

Shoukry said the continued attempts to change the identity of Jerusalem and to deprive its Arab people of their rights won’t go unnoticed.

"It did not come as a surprise to see the Jerusalemites fight for their identity and existence in a fight that is echoed in all the free world” he added.

Egypt has repeatedly warned against attempts to change the identity of Jerusalem.

“The policy of imposing the status quo and resorting to excessive force that Israel has consistently pursued has proven its failure to achieve security in the region,” Shoukry added.

He called on the Israeli authorities to stop any practices that violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy month of Ramadan, target the Arab identity of Jerusalem and its holy sites, or seek to displace their people, especially in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Attempts to de-escalate the tension were in vain

Shoukry said Egypt has exerted strenuous efforts during the past few days and sent messages to Israel and international players to halt the Israeli provocations and aggression but it did not get response.

“Egypt is still exerting its efforts currently with all the international and regional parties in order to reach a de-escalation in Jerusalem,” he said.

Shoukry's remarks come as Israeli press reported Tuesday that the Egyptian General Intelligence Service was trying to reach a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in the past 24 hours.

Security Council turning blind eye

Shoukry called on the international community to shoulder the responsibility towards what is happening to the Arab residents in the holy city, and strongly criticized the Security Council for turning a blind eye on the matter.

He said the Security Council should have taken a stance that would reflect its awareness of the danger of what's happening in the Middle East.

"Unfortunately, the council continues to shirk its responsibilities, which makes it lose its credibility," he said.

The UN Security Council held a meeting on Monday but issued no statement, with diplomats saying the United States believed public comments would be counterproductive, according to AFP.

Israeli army has been carrying airstrikes on Gaza since Monday, leaving at least 28 Palestinians killed including 9 children. 

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