NEW YORK – Israel is committing “provocative violations” of the status quo at al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said on Tuesday, at the UN Security Council’s monthly debate on the Middle East.
“The situation that we have repeatedly warned against – the stoking of a religious conflict – is rapidly unfolding as Israel persists with its illegal actions in occupied east Jerusalem, including its aggressive behavior and provocative violations of the historic status quo at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, aggravating religious sensitivities to the point of eruption,” he said. “We are clearly at the tipping point.”
Mansour added that Israel’s “provocations and incitement and the fueling of yet another cycle of violence will surely have far-reaching consequences in this already-volatile climate.
“We condemn the closure of al-Aksa Mosque by Israel and all other related provocative and inflammatory measures,” he said.
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon responded to Mansour’s claims, calling them an “excuse.”
“[Palestinians] divert your attention from the truth,” Danon said. “They just claimed that Israel seeks to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and that is what prompted the violence.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he continued. “Israel’s top priority is to maintain the safety and security of all Temple Mount worshipers and visitors. The Palestinians’ top priority is to ignite violence.”
The Security Council met on Tuesday amid growing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians after several days of violence surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, including the deaths of three Palestinian rioters on Friday, and the terrorist attack in Halamish on Friday night in which three Israelis were stabbed to death in their home. Member states all expressed their concerns and the need to avoid any escalation of the situation on the ground.
Danon told the council that the core of the violence in the region and around the world comes from “unrelenting glorification of terror.” The ambassador pointed out that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly endorsed the payment of salaries to convicted terrorists and their families.
“Schools are named for mass murderers, monuments dedicated to these killers stand at the centers of Palestinian towns and villages, Palestinians in Gaza even celebrated Friday’s horrific events,” he said. “Palestinians are radicalized and encouraged to kill innocent Israelis in cold blood. It is no secret that the Palestinians have built an industry of incitement.”
Danon has pushed the issue surrounding the payments for several month at the UN, urging the international community to monitor its aid to the PA, some of which, he said, is going toward funding terrorists’ salaries.
On Tuesday, Danon was joined in the Security Council chamber by Oran Almog, an Israeli victim of terrorism.
On October 4, 2003, Almog lost five members of his family at Haifa’s Maxim restaurant when a female Palestinian suicide bomber disguised as a pregnant woman blew herself up.
“Until the age of 10, I was an ordinary kid, but all this changed in one moment,” Almog told the press during a statement before the Security Council session. “She [the terrorist] murdered 21 people, including my father, my little brother, my grandparents and my cousin, Assaf.”
Regarding the recognition the bomber received from her community, Danon claimed that while Israel gives awards for the arts and sciences, "professional Palestinian women win awards for murder," and that while Israeli women become CEOs, Palestinian women become "chief executive killers."
Almog, whose visit was organized by the Israeli Mission to the UN and pro-Israel group StandWithUs, was blinded by the blast.
“The Security Council is holding a discussion on the Middle East, but one of the most important subjects, the funding of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority, will remain outside this discussion,” said Almog. “The Palestinian leadership is paying salaries to terrorists and their families every single month. Anyone who believes in the value of human life should act against these payments.”
Mansour, however, said the council must be reminded that the Palestinian people are “unarmed and defenseless.”
“We must not underestimate the risks.
Despair, anger and tensions throughout Palestine are extremely high, especially among our youth, who have known not a single day of freedom or dignity under this abhorrent occupation,” Mansour said.
“No plight, no struggle, can justify these disgusting acts of terror,” Danon responded.
“No claim of victimhood can validate the cruelty, the insanity of these sick crimes.
“The PA is just as guilty as the terror groups themselves,” he added. “Abbas not only has the audacity to claim he seeks peace, but actively funds, promotes and glorifies terror.”
According to Danon, in 2016, the PA spent over $300 million on salaries to terrorists and their families.
“Mahmoud Abbas has made his position clear: he supports pay to slay,” Danon told the forum.