JERUSALEM (AA) – Outgoing Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev has warned that extremist politician Itamar Ben-Gvir could spark a wide-scale confrontation with the Palestinians.
Ben-Gvir, who heads the far-right Jewish Strength Party, is expected to become national security minister in the upcoming government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Barlev made the statement on Twitter, citing his earlier comments to the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research.
Barlev said that if Ben-Gvir, as security minister, proceeds with his plans to change the status quo at “Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holy site,” in reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque area in occupied East Jerusalem, he “will throw the Middle East into fire.”
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Under Jerusalem’s internationally recognized status quo, Jews are allowed to visit the compound but not pray, but in recent years, Israeli settlers have been spotted performing prayer rituals inside the Al-Aqsa compound.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.