'France advancing plan to deploy international observers at Jerusalem's Temple Mount'

'Le Figaro' reports France drafting presidential statement on the matter; Israel says that it would never agree to such a deployment.

By DANA SOMBERG, REUTERS
October 17, 2015 15:06
2 minute read.
Muslims pray at Temple Mount

Muslims pray at Temple Mount. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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France is drafting a 'presidential statement' in order to advance a plan to station international observers at Jerusalem's Temple Mount to ensure that the status quo at the site is preserved, French daily Le Figaro reported on Saturday, quoting French diplomatic sources.

French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre said, at an emergency meeting on Friday of the UN Security Council on the ongoing violence between Israel and the Palestinians, that he would circulate a draft statement to the council that would appeal for calm and restraint and for a revival of the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and for maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount.

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Statements by the 15-member council must be agreed unanimously.

The unrest in recent weeks has been triggered in part by Palestinians' anger over what they claim to be increased Jewish encroachment at the Jerusalem holy site which is revered by both the Muslim and Jewish faithful.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly over the past few weeks that Israel has not changed the status quo on the Temple Mount, nor has it any intention of doing so, characterizing Arab charges to the contrary as “lies” and “deceit.”

Jews revere the Temple Mount as its holiest site, the place where two biblical Jewish temples once stood. The area, is also home to the Dome of the Rock, and is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, which is the third holiest site in Islam

On Friday, Israel's envoy to the UN Danny Danon said at the security council meeting that Israel will never agree to the stationing of international forces at the site.

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“If you are serious about promoting peace, if you are really committed to advancing co-existence in our region, make a clear statement against the incitement that fuels terror, support direct negotiations,” Danon said on Friday, addressing the international community and the UN Security Council.

Danon also made clear that Israel will not agree to any international presence on Temple Mount since “any such intervention would violate the decades long status quo”, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had repeatedly committed to maintaining. 

The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he wanted the council to consider deploying an international force at the al-Aqsa mosque to protect Palestinian worshipers.

"It is the responsibility of the United Nations and the international community and Security Council to provide protection for our people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem," Mansour told the council.

The security council is to hold a ministerial-level debate on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis on Thursday to try to press for a de-escalation, AFP reported on Saturday. 

Danielle Ziri, Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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