Itamar Ben Gvir
Itamar Ben GvirOlivier Fitoussi/Flash 90

Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Council and a preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque, on Sunday condemned remarks by the designated Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, regarding prayer on the Temple Mount, calling them "racist and inappropriate".

In an interview with Channel 12 News which aired on Saturday night, Ben Gvir said, "Of course I will go up to the Temple Mount. What kind of question is that? This racist attitude that says a Jew going up to the Temple Mount is wrong, in my eyes, this is racism. The Temple Mount is the most important place for the people of Israel. I will go up to the Temple Mount, but I will not deny the right of anyone to go up to the Temple Mount. Jews have human rights everywhere in the State of Israel."

Sabri, in response, said the Israeli government is fully responsible for what he called the "threats" made by Ben Gvir, stressing that "the Palestinian people will never allow him or others to harm the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque."

The Islamic concept is that the entire area of ​​the Temple Mount is considered the area of ​​Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the Western Wall, and Jews have no religious or historical right in this area.

Sabri said that Ben Gvir’s words "escalate the situation of tensions in Al-Aqsa (Mosque) and the friction with the Muslim worshipers in the mosque."

He called on the residents of Jerusalem to be alert to the provocation attempts of “settlers” in order to thwart the intentions to "attack" the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Sabri regularly accuses Israel of trying to “Judaize” the Temple Mount area. Several years ago, he accused "extremist" Jewish organizations of waging a legal battle aimed at achieving Israeli sovereignty in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In 2014, he declared that Al-Aqsa was a “red line” for Arabs, adding, “We will not give up even one grain of earth (at the Al-Aqsa Mosque), since the Jews have no connection to it whatsoever.”