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UAE, Bahrain pan Israel’s ‘storming’ of Al-Aqsa, amid international condemnation

  • May 08, 2021

The international community, including Israel’s Arab allies, condemned the Jewish state Saturday for the violence in Jerusalem a day earlier that saw 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers wounded, as well as for pending evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The United Arab Emirates, which normalized relations with Israel last year and has so far had warm ties with the country, expressed “deep concern over the violence” in Jerusalem. It condemned “Israeli authorities’ storming of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque” as well as plans to evict East Jerusalem residents.

Abu Dhabi added that Israel must protect Palestinian rights to practice their religion. It said Israel had a “responsibility for de-escalation” and urged it to “end all attacks and practices that lead to continued tension.”

Bahrain, which also established ties with Israel last year as part of the Abraham Accords, expressed “strong condemnation” over Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount, saying it must “stop these rejected provocations against the people of Jerusalem, and work to prevent its forces from attacking worshipers in this holy month.”

The widespread clashes and riots in the Al-Aqsa compound followed prayers held there on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Gulf nation also condemned the “Israeli plan to evict the citizens of Jerusalem from their homes,” referring to the situation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where over 70 Palestinian residents are threatened with eviction and could be replaced by right-wing Jewish nationalists, in a legal battle being waged in Israel’s Supreme Court.

The Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem has long been one of the main flashpoints of Israeli-Palestinian friction. The holiest place in Judaism — as the site of the two biblical temples — is also home to the Muslim holy sites of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

Saudi Arabia, which does not have formal relations with Israel but is widely reported to share close clandestine ties with Jerusalem, also rejected plans to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Israel “must stop all measures that violate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” It added that potential evictions were a violation of international law, and reduce the chances of a two-state solution.

Turkey said it “strongly condemns the attacks by Israeli security forces against the Palestinians worshiping in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Israel is facing growing international scrutiny over the pending evictions, which the United Nations on Friday said could be a “war crime.”

Russia on Saturday said developments were “perceived with deep concern in Moscow. We strongly condemn attacks against civilians. It called on “all parties to refrain from any steps fraught with the escalation of violence.”

The European Union called on local leaders “to act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions,” saying “violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable.”

On Friday, the US urged all sides to act with restraint in Jerusalem, saying it was “critical” to restore calm amid several days of clashes in East Jerusalem.

“The United States is extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem… which have reportedly resulted in scores of injured people,” a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan.”

He said Washington was calling on Israeli and Palestinian officials to “act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.”

The recent tensions have raised fears of sparking a wider conflict, with the Hamas terror group in Gaza warning of renewed violence over the issue.

Israeli security forces were on high alert Saturday in preparation for fresh violence in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and along the Gaza border.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday pushing back on criticism of the pending evictions and accused the Palestinian Authority and terror organizations of fanning the tensions.

On Saturday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with top security officials to assess the situation. “We are acting responsibly to ensure law and order in Jerusalem while maintaining freedom of worship at the holy sites,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

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