UNITED NATIONS Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrives to address media at the UN headquarters.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – Representatives of the UN Quartet for the Middle East expressed “grave concern” over the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians at their meeting in Vienna on Friday.
They condemned “all acts of terror and violence against civilians” and called for “maximum restraint and avoidance of provocative rhetoric and actions.”
The Quartet encouraged Israel to work together with Jordan in order to “uphold the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem in both word and practice, recognizing the special role of Jordan as per its peace treaty with Israel.”
The group underlined the importance of “restoring confidence and hope in the viability of a negotiated twostate solution that resolves the final-status issues, including that of Jerusalem, and ends the occupation that began in 1967.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the meeting via video conference. Just before doing so, he told journalists he was “profoundly troubled” by what he saw and heard during his snap visit to the region on Tuesday.
“I strongly condemned all acts of terror and violence, and I offer condolences to the families of those who have been killed or injured,” the secretary-general said.
“The tensions around the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount have the potential to add a religious dimension to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that could be exploited by extremists on both sides, with potentially dangerous regional implications.”
Ban said he welcomes “the assurance of Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel has no intention of changing the status quo,” and that it is “critical” Israel “exercise maximum restraint” and “make sure that security measures are properly calibrated.”
Not doing so may “breed the very frustrations and anxieties which perpetuate violence,” he said.
Ban seemed to align with the many representatives at the UN who have accused Israel of using collective punishment against Palestinians in the past few weeks.
“One neighborhood closure creates a community of despair,” he said. “One funeral can spread rage among thousands. Force should be a last resort, not a first resort.”
The core of the conflict is political and will require “a serious negotiation process by two partners willing to make the necessary compromises to reach the long-desired goal of a two-state solution,” the secretary-general said.
He added that he strongly advised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet and attempt to calm the tensions.
The UN Quartet envoys should travel to the region in the near future and “engage directly with the parties to encourage them to take concrete actions” in order to “move toward an end to occupation and the establishment of a viable, sustainable Palestinian state, living in peace with Israel,” Ban said.