Arab League urges UN to act against Israeli settlers

AFP , Wednesday 5 Aug 2015

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meets with the Arab League's Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (AP Photo)

Arab League foreign ministers, meeting alongside Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday, agreed to call on the UN to protect the Palestinians from "terrorist crimes" by Israeli settlers.

The announcement by 15 ministers meeting in Cairo comes after Friday's death of an 18-month-old Palestinian boy who was burned alive in an arson attack blamed on Jewish extremists.

The baby's parents and his brother were seriously injured in the attack on their house in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Extreme rightwing Jewish activists have waged a so-called "price tag" campaign in Israel and the Palestinian territories, attacking and vandalising Muslim and Christian places of worship in particular.

"The Arab Group (at the UN) must act to submit a draft resolution to the Security Council concerning terrorist crimes by Israeli settler groups against the Palestinian people," League chief Nabil al-Arabi said before the meeting.

"We must seriously think about real international protection for the Palestinian people," he added.

"What is required is real international protection, through a Security Council decision."

In a statement later, the ministers said they had agreed to "hold Arab and international consultations to present the Security Council with a draft resolution".

Wednesday's meeting had initially been called to discuss clashes late last month at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

The clashes erupted after Palestinians were angered over settlers' access to the compound on an annual day of Jewish mourning.

Israeli police entered the mosque during those clashes to shut the doors and lock Muslim prayers inside.

"Lately, especially during the month of Ramadan, attacks against the Al-Aqsa mosque have increased," Abbas said at the start of the meeting.

Settlers storm Al-Aqsa mosque and clash with Palestinians on a regular basis.

Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa Mosque, a move that stirs anger among Muslim worshipers.

Al-Aqsa mosque was closed to settlers for 13 days, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and the three days of Muslim's Eid Al-Fitr.

The mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. Israel's recurrent violations against it have historically been a major source of tension and anger among Palestinians.

Israelis refer to the area that encompasses Al-Aqsa mosque as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as its capital – a declaration not recognised by the international community.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online.  

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