US warns against change in status in Jerusalem holy sites

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The US on Tuesday voiced concern about the visit of a far-right minister in Israel's new government to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, holy to both Jews and Muslims, and warned against any change in the status quo.

“The US stands firmly... for preservation of the status quo with respect to holy sites in Jerusalem,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“Any unilateral action that jeopardizes the status quo is unacceptable.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price separately said the US was “deeply concerned” by the visit of Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has a history of inflammatory statements and was given a key security position in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's latest government.

“This visit has the potential to exacerbate tensions and to provoke violence,” Price said of the visit which was widely condemned in the Islamic world.

Price said the US has had “direct conversations today with representatives of the prime minister's office regarding this visit.”

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