United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, concerned by the potential risk of escalating violence over the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem, today urged all political, religious and community leaders to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric.
“I reiterate my concern over the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is essential to fully respect the status quo at the holy sites as before 14 July,” the Secretary-General said in a statement.
The statement comes in the wake of a series of deadly stabbings, other violent incidents and rising tensions in and around Jerusalem's Old City since mid-June, particularly near the holy site known as the Temple Mount and as Haram al-Sharif.
Mr. Guterres welcomed the dialogue between Israel and Jordan, in line with Jordan's special and historic role, and encouraged continued discussions on how to ensure security for both worshippers and visitors.
“I am particularly concerned about the potential risk of escalating violence; urge all political, religious and community leaders to refrain from provocative action and rhetoric; and call on Israel to demonstrate restraint,” the UN chief concluded.
Just yesterday, during a previously scheduled briefing to the Security Council, the UN Special Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, warned that Swift, decisive action was required to revive negotiations and end the crisis in Jerusalem before rising tensions dragged both Israelis and Palestinians into a crisis that could impact the wider region.
Commending decisions by Israeli and Palestinian authorities to restore access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and services to Gaza, he called upon both sides to refrain from activities that could exacerbate tensions.
“We must not lose focus on the need to restore a political perspective, on the need to bring Palestinians and Israelis back into an environment that is conductive to negotiations on a final status arrangement and avoids turning the national Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one,” stressed Mr. Mladenov.