Members of the United Nations Security Council have called for restraint by all sides and an early return to the negotiating table, while voicing their concern at the current “tense” situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
“They urged all sides to show restraint and avoid provocative acts,” Ambassador Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet of Gabon, which holds the rotating Council presidency for March, told reporters after closed-door talks on Friday.
“They stressed that peaceful dialogue was the only way forward and looked forward to an early resumption of negotiations,” he added.
During their meeting in New York on 24 February, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his regret to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak about recent developments on the ground, including new demolition orders in East Jerusalem and the inclusion of holy sites in the occupied West Bank on an Israeli heritage list.
According to media reports, Israeli police and Palestinian youths clashed at the Temple Mount site in Jerusalem on Friday, resulting in several injuries on both sides. Clashes have also been reported in the West Bank city of Hebron, following Israel's announcement that it was adding the tombs of the biblical patriarch Abraham in Hebron and the biblical matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem to its list of national heritage sites.
The situation in the Middle East was also among the issues discussed yesterday during a meeting between Mr. Issoze-Ngondet, in his capacity as Council President, and General Assembly President Ali Treki.
“The two Presidents underlined the crucial importance of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East for regional and international peace and security,” Mr. Treki's spokesperson said in a statement.
The discussion, part of regular meetings held by the Assembly President with the heads of the other principal organs of the UN, also touched on the Council's programme of work – including situations ranging from Somalia and Chad to Sudan and Afghanistan – as well as reform of the 15-member Council and the wider UN.