UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov - Photo courtesy of UN - Manuel Elias
CAIRO – 27 July 2017: The United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, warned on Tuesday during the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on the Middle East recent developments in the Old City of Jerusalem.
He demonstrated that the “grave risk” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “could become a religious conflict that could ultimately engulf the rest of the region,” according to the UNSC official website.
Mladenov said “Israelis and Palestinians fortunately have not succumbed to the torrent of violent upheaval that has engulfed the region in recent years,” nevertheless “For nearly a century, despite myriad peace efforts, one conflict has evaded solution.”
The UN special coordinator of the Middle East Peace process highlighted the latest clashes and tensions since July 14 in the Old City of Jerusalem, which resulted in deaths on both sides.
He said, “These developments demonstrate 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,” stressing the need for all parties to show restraint and promptly end this crisis.
He noted that “the final status issue concerning Jerusalem needs to be negotiated and decided by the two sides, he urged Israel to fulfill the responsibility to uphold its obligations under international human rights law and humanitarian law.” And he also “urged Palestinian leaders to avoid provocative statements that further aggravate an already tense environment.”
Mladenov said about the recent Israeli attempts to advance its plans to construct settlements in East Jerusalem during the past month, “I must once again emphasize that settlement activity in occupied territory is illegal under international law, and undermines the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous, sovereign Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.”
Escalations and clashes in Jerusalem started between Palestinians and Israelis following the killing of three Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on July 14.
Israel forced new security measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque that included placing metal detection gates, self inspection of Palestinian worshippers, and installing smart surveillance cameras to inspect the faces of Palestinians entering the Mosque and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which Palestinians rejected and demonstrated against by praying in the streets of Jerusalem.
On Tuesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, supported by the Israeli Cabinet of Ministers, instructed the Israeli forces to remove the metal detection gates following popular pressure from Palestinians and negotiations with Jordan.
The Jordanian-Israeli negotiations did not include the smart surveillance cameras that the Palestinians are also rejecting as they demand the situation in Jerusalem to return to the “status-quo” before July 14.
On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced dismissing all relations with the Israeli side including the security coordination. “All new Israeli measures on the ground from July 14 until today should be removed, then things will return to normal in Jerusalem and we will then resume our work concerning bilateral relations,” said Abbas at the start of a meeting with the Palestinian leadership.
On Monday the United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned stated that a solution was needed by Friday to Al-Aqsa crisis that threatens to create potential catastrophic cists beyond the walls of the Old City, according to the MidEast Quartet Envoys Joint Statement on escalating tensions and violent clashes in and around old city of Jerusalem.
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss Jerusalem crisis on Monday and urged the Israeli authorities to remove the metal detection gates from Al-Aqsa Mosque entrances.