United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The UN Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” Tuesday’s attack on synagogue worshipers in Jerusalem, calling it a “despicable terrorist attack.”
The council “reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation... and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group,” in a press statement released on Wednesday evening.
The council also “expressed concern about increased tensions...and urged all sides to take immediate steps to restore calm.”
The council issued the statement after a day that was dedicated to debating “International Cooperation in Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism,” which saw 67 UN member states discuss the threat of Islamic State and foreign fighters in embattled places such as Syria. The attack in Jerusalem garnered a mention in US Ambassador David Pressman’s speech, alongside the recent lone-wolf Islamist attacks in Quebec and Ottawa.
“These incidents, along with ISIL’s [Islamic State’s] unrelenting bloodshed and brutality in Iraq and Syria, remind us that we must do more to counter violent extremism, and to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters,” Pressman said.
Israel’s representative, Legal Adviser Amit Heumann, reminded the council that this attack means that terrorism “doesn’t distinguish between nationalities. Terrorism is on Israel’s doorstep, but if nations continue to look the other way, terrorism will soon be on their doorsteps as well.”
“The international community can no longer afford to be indifferent. Radical extremism is on the rise and we are losing ground,” Heumann said.
“In the Middle East, hate-fueled incitement fills schools, mosques, and media. This is particularly evident in Palestinian society.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had issued a statement of condemnation through his spokesman on Tuesday, a few hours after the attack. Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric reiterated Ban’s condemnation to reporters on Wednesday, in which he expressed condolences to the families of the victims, and noted the ongoing clashes in east Jerusalem.
“The secretary-general calls for political leadership and courage on both sides to take actions to address the very tense situation in Jerusalem,” Dujarric said. “All sides must avoid using provocative rhetoric which only encourages extremist elements. In this regard, the secretary-general welcomes President Abbas’s condemnation of today’s attack.”
Dujarric did not mention that several Palestinian leaders had praised the attack, particularly those in the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, a few hours after the attack, Dujarric relayed a message from Robert Serry, the special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, that he “abhorred the attack,” and, “There can be no justification whatsoever for these deliberate killings.”