UN warns Jerusalem mosque crisis needs urgent de-escalation
The United Nations Middle East envoy says a crisis over new security measures at a volatile Jerusalem holy site must be swiftly resolved.
A week of deadly violence has resulted in Israeli and Palestinian fatalities, after metal detectors were installed by Israel at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Nikolay Mladenov privately briefed the 15-member UN Security Council, afterwards saying it’s critically important to preserve the status quo, in place at the holy site since 1967.
“I call on the parties to refrain from provocative actions, show restraint and work towards finding a solution. It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday this week. I think the dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a resolution to this current crisis.”
The site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews as the Temple Mount, is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Over a week ago, three men described by police as “Israeli Arabs” shot and killed two Israeli police officers near the compound.
Metal detectors and additional security cameras were installed in response to the incident.
Clashes broke out during protests over the measures, leaving five Palestinians dead.
Three Israelis were also killed when a Palestinian entered a house in the West Bank and stabbed them.
The violence spread to neighbouring Jordan when two Jordanians were killed and an Israeli wounded at Israel’s embassy in the capital, Amman.
Israel has started removing some of the metal detectors outside the Al-Aqsa mosque, but the additional security cameras and some barriers will reportedly remain.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon says the security measures are necessary to prevent terrorists from bringing weapons into the compound.
“The Security Council is meeting to discuss how to de-escalate the conflict. Let me save them some time. It’s quite simple. Demand that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stop promoting violence, tell them to stop educating to hate, make them stop paying terrorists.”
Palestinians view the new security measures as Israel asserting further control over the site.
In response to the stabbings in the West Bank, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN says Israel has engaged in a violation of international law at the magnitude of war crimes.
Riyad Mansour says while it’s not necessarily the policy of the Palestinian government, it can’t be expected that all Palestinians will be “angels” and not react to their surroundings.
He called for all the security measures at the mosque to be dismantled.
“We want all obstacles put in place to deprive worshippers of exercising their right to go and pray, and all these things including metal detectors, cameras, obstacles (barriers), all of them, they need to be removed and removed completely without conditions. For those who want to maintain the status quo, it means the removal of all these things that violate the status quo.”
US President Donald Trump’s aide, Jason Greenblatt, has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US envoy to Israel, David Friedman.
A phone conversation has also been held between Mr Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan, in which the King reiterated his country’s demand that Israel remove all recent security changes at the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Turkey has labelled Israel’s security actions as completely unacceptable and against human rights.
Outside the Old City of Jerusalem, Muslim worshippers continue to pray and protest.
UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov says the latest events are a step backwards and all Security Council members need to use their influence with both sides to de-escalate the situation.
“Nobody should be mistaken that these events are localized events. In fact, they may be taking place over a couple of hundred square metres but they affect millions, if not billions, of people around the world. They have the potential to have catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City, well beyond Israel and Palestine, well beyond the Middle East itself.”