A senior United Nations official today called on Israel to curb extremist settlers following a report that a blaze earlier this week in a mosque in a Palestinian village on the occupied West Bank was probably the result of arson.
“There have been a number of attacks upon mosques in recent months, as well as violence against Palestinian property and individuals by extremist settlers,” Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said, voicing deep concern at a fire service report that Tuesday’s blaze in a mosque in Lubban al Sharqiya was probably started deliberately.
“I condemn these attacks. It is vital that the Israeli Government impose the rule of law and that those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice,” he added in a statement.
“Extremists from either side must not be allowed to set the agenda and undermine the vital efforts to renew negotiations.”
Proximity talks, or indirect negotiations, between Israel and the Palestinians are due to begin shortly following a 16-month halt to meetings between the two sides after Israel launched an offensive against Gaza at the end of 2008 with the stated aim of trying to halt rocket attacks against it.
Last week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak to discuss prospects for progress on the Middle East peace process and he voiced the hope that proximity talks would begin shortly.