A new visit today by Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir at a religious site in Jerusalem provoked strong criticism from the Palestinian side and from the Arab allies of the Palestinians.

On his visit to the Temple Mount, as it is known to Jews, Ben-Gvir said: “I am excited to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the most important place for the Jewish people.”

This place of worship is located in the heart of Jerusalem, known to Muslims as “Haram Ash Sharif” or “Noble Temple” and to Jews as “Temple Mount”. Al Aqsa Mosque is also located there.

It is the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina. Jews are allowed to visit the site, but not to pray there.

The minister also praised the Israeli police, who are responsible for security at the sensitive Muslim-administered hilltop holy site. Their work showed “who is the master of the house in Jerusalem,” said Ben-Gvir.

Ben-Gvir seeks greater access to the Temple Mount for Jews, but Palestinians fear this will allow Israel to expand its control over the site.

Turkey, Jordan’s foreign ministry and a representative of the Palestinian presidency they condemned the visit of the far-right politician as a dangerous challenge.

“All the threats from Hamas (Gaza’s ruling Islamist group) will not help anything, we are the owner in Jerusalem and the entire land of Israel,” Ben-Gvir said during the visit, also referring to the occupied West Bank and in the Arab-occupied eastern part of Jerusalem. The Minister of National Security last visited the site in January, shortly after taking office.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Ben-Gvir’s visit “a blatant attack on the holy site that will have serious consequences,” according to the Wafa news agency. “Efforts by Itamar Ben-Gvir and extremists like him to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are reprehensible and will fail,” he said.