UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep concern over the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem, and called on Palestinian and Israeli leaders to help defuse the situation.
At least 152 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli riot police and 400 worshipers arrested inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday, the latest outbreak in a recent upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.
“He (UN chief) calls on leaders on all sides to help calm the situation,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement issued in New York Friday night.
Provocations on the holy site, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, must stop to prevent further escalation, the statement said.
Guterres reiterated his call for the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem to be upheld and respected.
“The Secretary-General reiterates his commitment to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements,” the statement added.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland is in close contact with key regional partners and the parties to calm the situation.
Tensions between Israelis and the Palestinians flared up in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past three weeks as the Jewish festival of Passover overlaps with the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.