China / World

Jerusalem tensions spark UN concern

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-07-27 06:50

China calls for efforts to ease tensions over Al-Aqsa Mosque

UNITED NATIONS - Recent developments in East Jerusalem dominated the monthly UN Security Council session on the Middle East on Tuesday, with members voicing concern over the risk of more violence.

"Developments over the past 11 days at the holy sites of the Old City in Jerusalem, however, have demonstrated the grave risk of dangerous escalation that exists, a risk of turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one and dragging both sides into the vortex of violence with the rest of the region," said Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

On July 14, three Arab-Israeli gunmen opened fire and killed two Israeli police and were later shot dead inside the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

After the shootings, Israel installed metal detectors and surveillance cameras at the entrances. The Israeli security move sparked widespread Muslim protests including sit-ins and street prayings that sometimes turned into deadly clashes.

At the UN session, Mladenov also welcomed the Israeli decision on Monday to remove metal detectors and some of the surveillance cameras, while expressing the hope that the Israeli move will ease the tension there, leading to an end to the Palestinian boycotting of the holy site.

Palestinian demand

On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded Al-Aqsa Mosque's return to the status quo before July 14 before resuming contact with the Israeli side.

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, echoed Mladenov's concerns during the UN session, criticizing Israeli measures as "reckless and destructive" and describing the situation in East Jerusalem as "fragile".

"The fragile situation in Occupied East Jerusalem has been inflamed yet again as Israel, the occupying power, presses forth with its reckless and destructive agenda against our people and holy sites, especially Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which houses holy A1-Aqsa Mosque, in absolute contempt for international law and the will of the international community", Mansour said.

Mentioning the risk of "the stoking of a religious conflict", he warned against "the dangers of such provocations and incitement and the fueling of yet another cycle of violence, which will surely have far-reaching consequences in this already-volatile climate".

Ambassador Liu Jieyi of China, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month, called for efforts by the international community to keep the situation under control.

"The international community should proceed from the need of maintaining peace in the Middle East and the world, have a long-term vision, promote the political settlement of the question of Palestine by addressing both the symptoms and the root causes, maintain the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people, keep the situation between Palestine and Israel from going out of control and prevent the Middle East from sliding into a bitter crisis," said Liu.

He reaffirmed China's support for the just cause of the Palestinian people and for peace between Palestine and Israel.


Jerusalem tensions spark UN concern

  China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi speaks during a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters on Tuesday. LI MUZI/XINHUA

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