UN Security Council Debates Jerusalem Violence, UAE Summons Israeli Envoy

Blinken calls Palestinian President Abbas, as well as Jordanian and Israeli foreign ministers, while Turkey's Erdogan speaks with Israel's Herzog amid efforts to restore calm to Jerusalem's Old City during Ramadan

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Israeli forces in Jerusalem's Old City, on Tuesday.
Israeli forces in Jerusalem's Old City, on Tuesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the latest outbreak of violence in Jerusalem's Old City.

A joint statement by European members of the council called for "calm and de-escalation," stressing that "violence needs to stop immediately. Further civilian casualties need to be prevented as a priority."

"The status quo of the holy sites must be fully respected," said the statement, which also condemned terror attacks and rocket fire at Israel. "We support all efforts to de-escalate and reiterate the call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint."

Rescue personnel evacuate an injured man outside the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque following clashes on Sunday, Jerusalem.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

The statement was delivered at the end of the meeting on behalf of European states currently on the Security Council – France, Albania and Norway – as well as Estonia and Ireland, who completed their term in the UN body.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have spiked during Ramadan and Passover, and following a string of deadly attacks targeting Israelis, which prompted a series of Israeli military raids across the West Bank.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli riot police inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, raising fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

The UN meeting was requested by Jordan, which is a custodian of the holy site. Amman has taken an expanded role in condemning Israel on the international stage over what it argues are violations of long-standing agreements on the management of the compound.

It follows harsh statements from the Palestinian Authority, Turkey and other regional and international players condemning Israel's actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in recent days.

The United Nation's Middle East envoy, Tor Wennesland, said in a statement that the UN was working with "all relevant parties to de-escalate the situation" and warned against "provocations, spreading of misinformation and incitement to violence."

"Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to reduce tensions, create the conditions for calm and ensure the status quo at the Holy Sites is protected," he added, avoiding pinning blame on any specific party.

Blinken calls Middle Eastern leaders

On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates summoned Israel's ambassador, Amir Hayek, to demand an end to Israel's "practices," which Abu Dhabi said were putting civilian lives at risk and threatening to violate Palestinian Muslims' right to practice their faith.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to a statement from Abbas' office, as well as with Jordan's foreign minister.

Abbas said he told Blinken that Israel's increased military operations in the West Bank and "brutal attacks" on Palestinians could have "dire consequences," while Blinken stressed the need to refrain from actions or rhetoric that escalate tensions, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Blinken also spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who described Israeli efforts as "responsible" in the face of "riots by hundreds of Muslim extremists on the Temple Mount and false information disseminated by extremists," and called for "the need for international support for the return of peace to Jerusalem."

Blinken conveyed to Lapid his appreciation of Israel's efforts to prevent further escalation, Israeli officials said. The two also spoke of efforts to confront global challenges, including those of Iran and its proxies, according to Price.

In a call with Jordan's Ayman Safadi, according to the State Department, Blinken stressed the importance of maintaining the status quo at Jerusalem holy sites, the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Secretary Blinken emphasized the importance of upholding the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, and appreciation for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem," spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Palestinians look on Israeli border police in Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI - AFP

U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert will be in the region to travel to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt to discuss reducing tensions and ending the cycle of violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. State Department said.

Over the past two days, Jordan's Foreign Minister Safadi has been putting pressure on the United States and the European Union, and with leaders of Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, to stop Israel from sending forces to the mosque compound.

Erdogan 'very upset'

Also on Tuesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the need to defuse the situation in Jerusalem, according to Israeli and Turkish statements.

Herzog told Erdogan that Israel was maintaining the status quo and freedom of worship at Al-Aqsa, adding that Israeli police and security forces are going to great lengths to allow daily prayers to continue, despite "provocations and incitement," Herzog's office said.

Erdogan, according to a statement on Twitter, told Herzog that he was "very upset" by recent events in Jerusalem. He added that he was concerned that these tensions may cause clashes between Israel and Gaza.

The Turkish president also stressed the importance of allowing freedom of worship on the Temple Mount and said he was pleased to hear from Herzog about Israeli efforts in this regard.

The call comes after Erdogan on Sunday told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas that he condemned Israeli "intervention on worshippers" at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque and threats to its "status or spirit". It also comes amid recent efforts by Turkey and Israel to repair their long-strained ties.

Earlier this month, Erdogan told Herzog, whom he also met in Ankara last month, that Ankara expected Israeli authorities to be sensitive over Al-Aqsa during Ramadan and stressed the importance of allowing Palestinians to enter Israel.

While it has criticized the clashes in Jerusalem, Turkey's reaction to the violence has been much calmer than in the past, when it had launched various initiatives at the UN and other platforms to condemn Israel and support Palestinians.

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