UN Security Council meets on Jerusalem but holds off on statement

AFP , Monday 10 May 2021

More than 300 people were injured Monday in the crackdown of the Israeli police on the Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem

Sheikh Jarrah
A Palestinian woman argues with an Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Monday, May 10, 2021 AP

The UN Security Council held an urgent meeting Monday on unrest in Jerusalem but issued no immediate statement, with diplomats saying the United States believed public comments would be counterproductive.

Negotiations were continuing among the 15 nations on the Security Council on a text that could be watered down from an initial draft proposed by Norway, diplomats said.

The United States, according to one diplomat, said in the closed-door videoconference that it was "working behind the scenes" to calm the situation and that it was "not sure that a statement at this point would help."

The Security Council meeting came after the US national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, telephoned his Israeli counterpart and voiced "serious concerns" about potential Israeli evictions of Palestinians in the holy city that have helped fuel tensions.

Shortly after the Security Council meeting, organizers of a pro-Israel march that had become a flashpoint canceled the event.

The draft Security Council statement, seen by AFP, would call on Israel to "cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions" including in east Jerusalem.

The Norwegian draft was jointly put forward with Tunisia, a fellow non-permanent member that called Monday's meeting, as well as China.

In the draft statement, which is a step below a resolution, the Security Council members would voice "their grave concern regarding escalating tensions and violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem," which Israel occupied after the 1967 war and considers part of its capital.

The draft also calls for "exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and upholding and respecting the historic status quo at the holy sites."

The US mission at the United Nations did not immediately comment on the Security Council meeting.

The United States is the top ally of Israel but President Joe Biden has looked also to support Palestinian rights following the hawkishly pro-Israel administration of Donald Trump.

More than 300 people were injured Monday in the crackdown of the Israeli police on the Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred in Islam. 

Since Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, started, Israel put barriers outside Damascus Gate to prevent the Palestinians from breaking the fast on the steps of the area where thousands of them traditionally gather after the night-time prayers. But it removed them at a later stage.

In addition to ongoing acts of violence committed by both Israeli settlers and forces agaisnt the Palestinians, which recently resulted in the injury of hundreds, Israel plans to evict several Palestinians families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighoburhood in east Jerusalem.

Israeli settlers regularly storm Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, while strict limitations are imposed by Israeli security forces on the Palestinians who wish to enter it.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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