Palestinian UN ambassador calls on Security Council to adopt resolution protecting Palestinians in Jerusalem, similar to resolution adopted after 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron.
Israel’s new ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Friday that Israel objects to any international involvement or oversight over the Temple Mount.
Speaking at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, a few minutes before the start of a Security Council meeting on the escalation in Jerusalem, Danon said Israel “does not think international intervention [in] the Temple Mount would be helpful or contribute to stability.” He added that “an international presence on the Temple Mount would violate the status quo of the last several decades.”
The UN Security Council meeting was convened at Jordan’s request.
A senior official in Jerusalem said Israel believes what is needed at the moment is an effort to calm the tensions and clarify that Israel maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount. “An international oversight mechanism will in effect change the status quo, therefore Israel would not agree [to it],” the official said. “The torching of Joseph’s Tomb proves that only Israel can safeguard… the sites holy to the three religions,” added the official, referring to an attack on the holy Jewish site in Nablus early morning on Friday.
At the session, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution guaranteeing the safety and protection of Palestinians in Jerusalem, similar to Resolution 904 adopted after the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994, which saw international monitors deployed in Hebron.
Mansour called on members of the Security Council and the United Nations to intervene to protect the Palestinians and condemn Israel’s actions. He also called on the Security Council to pressure Israel to withdraw its forces from the Temple Mount and from East Jerusalem neighborhoods and to restore the status quo on the Temple Mount.
“We don’t trust the Israeli government’s words and promises,” he said.
Jordan’s ambassador to the UN, Dina Kawar, said that Israel is responsible for the escalation in Jerusalem, adding that Israel must keep the status quo and desist from any actions to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line which mustn’t be crossed and cannot be defiled,” she said. “We reserve all the diplomatic and legal options to defend the holy sites in Jerusalem.”
Danon said at the press conference before the Security Council meeting that there is no need for another general discussion on the situation, but rather a need to hold an emergency session on stopping Palestinian incitement, which is spearheaded by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “Only yesterday did the prime minister announce again that Israel is ready to renew direct negotiations with the Palestinians, without preconditions, in order to restore calm in the region,” Danon said. “How did the Palestinians react? They again chose to avoid talks by turning to the Security Council.”
Danon presented a Palestinian banner that describes the most efficient ways to stab Jews, and added: “Instead of educating their children [and instill] values of peace and tolerance, the Palestinian leadership is managing a hotbed for terrorists. The inciting education devised by the Palestinian Authority is creating an entire generation of child-terrorists.”
‘Sides must not target holy sites’
At the start of the Security Council meeting, an aide to the Secretary General briefed the 15 ambassadors from member states on the situation on the ground. He began with a statement that said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemns the torching of Joseph’s Tomb and calls to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice. The aide said that the Secretary General welcomes Abbas’ announcement on the establishment of an investigative committee following the incident. He also called on both sides to refrain from targeting holy sites and to do everything in their power not to turn the national conflict into a religious one, as that would have serious consequence.
Secretary General Ban, according to the aide, said the current crisis will not be solved by military means, and stressed that the Palestinian violence is the result of anger and frustration, a bad economic situation and no hope for a better future. He said settlement construction further dampens hope among the Palestinians.
The aide added that statements and actions by Israeli extremists, joined by more moderate elements, over the Temple Mount, created the impression that Israel seeks to change the status quo.
He noted that the UN welcomed Netanyahu’s statements on Israel’s commitment to the status quo, but clarified that Israel must also take action and implement the understandings concerning the Temple Mount, reached with Jordan in November 2014.
The aide also noted that the publication of videos of terror attacks and of terrorists’ deaths has only fanned the flames, and the the footage raised concerns over excessive force by Israel. Irresponsible statements by leaders also had a part in the escalation, he added. “Both sides are to blame,” he said. “We call on leaders to calm the situation and tone down their statements.”
Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN, David Roth, addressed the Security Council and said that Israel is committed to the status quo on the Temple Mount, and listed the Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis in recent weeks.
According to Roth, while Israel maintains the three religions’ freedom of worship in Jerusalem, the Palestinians have refused to recognize any link between Jews and the city’s holy sites. Roth added that the torching of Joseph’s Tomb shows the Palestinians do not respect other religions’ holy places. If Netanyahu made statements similar to those made by Abbas, he said, the Security Council would have immediately convened to condemn Israel – but Abbas’ statements receive no criticism.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said during the meeting that the United States condemns the violence and that there’s no justification for terror attacks against innocent parties. She called on both sides to avoid inciting remarks and provocative actions. Power noted that the U.S. supports Israel’s right to defend itself but added that the administration has raised its concerns over further violence by settlers against Palestinians to Israel. Power said the crisis must end and the path of the two-state solution resumed.
France’s ambassador François Delattre said his country prepared a draft of a presidential statement by the Security Council, which stressed the need to safeguard Jerusalem’s holy sites and maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount. He said the international community must exert pressure to resume serious peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
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