The United Nations should take the lead in urging a deescalation of tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the U.K.’s envoy to the global body said Monday.
“We call on all parties to denounce violence to get back into a meaningful political process to bring peace to the Middle East,” Matthew Rycroft told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
“I think it’s important that the whole of the Council stands together to do what we can to help bring peace to the Middle East,” Rycroft said.
UN’s special envoy for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Nikolay Mladenov, said the UN Security Council would have an open debate on Tuesday.
Mladenov called on all Council members to “unequivocally condemn all victims of violence” and set the stage for a return to negotiations in the long-drawn-out peace process.
“It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday this week,” Mladenov said. “I think the dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a solution.”
Three Palestinians were killed and 57 others were injured Saturday in clashes with Israeli police outside Al-Aqsa, according to Israeli officials who revealed the deaths, and the Palestinian Red Crescent which compiled the injuries.
Separately, three members of an Israeli family were killed in a stabbing attack by a Palestinian in the West Bank, according to Israeli sources.
Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, on Monday urged the global body to pressure the Palestinian Authority to end “terror and incitement”, in reference to the attack.
Anger has spilled across the West Bank since last week when Israel shut the Al-Aqsa Mosque, venerated by Muslims and Jews, who call it Temple Mount, following a deadly shootout.
The mosque was reopened after a two-day closure, with Israel installing metal detectors at the mosque’s gates that Palestinians say is intended to change the status quo — a delicate balance of prayer and visiting rights.
Israel refused to remove the detectors and contends security measures are similar to procedures taken at other holy sites around the world.
The Middle East Quartet of Russia, U.S., EU and the UN voiced great concern for “the escalating tensions and violent clashes” in and around the Old City, where the revered place of worship is located.
“Noting the particular sensitivities surrounding the holy sites in Jerusalem, and the need to ensure security, the Quartet envoys call on all to demonstrate maximum restraint, refrain from provocative actions and work towards de-escalating the situation,” a statement said.
The Quartet encouraged Israel and Jordan to work together for de-escalation, noting the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom as recognized in its peace treaty with the Jewish state.
Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians — and the Al-Aqsa Mosque represents the Islamic world’s third-holiest site after the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Categories: Asia-Middle East Relations