UNSC urged to end 'provocations' by Israel
Updated: 2013-05-23 10:20
UNITED NATIONS - Palestine has asked the UN Security Council to press Israel to end its "provocations", including restricting access to holy sites in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian envoy told reporters on Wednesday.
"We have sent to the president of the Security Council and to the secretary-general, during the course of the last two weeks, four letters about the illegal policies and practices of the Israeli occupying power, particularly in and around occupied East Jerusalem, especially with regard to the provocation against Palestinian Christian clergymen and also Palestinian Muslims," said Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, after a Security Council consultations on the situation in the Middle East.
"This provocation intensified the tension in the holy city of Jerusalem," said Mansour, who is accompanied by Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN Mohammed Loulichki.
"Of course, one can add to it the Israeli activities with regard to settlements, particularly the 300 units in Beit El close to Ramallah," he said.
"We reiterate our call that the Security Council has to shoulder its responsibility with the Israeli occupying power ... to guarantee the safety and freedom of the religion for the Palestinian people regardless of their religious affiliation in the holy city of Jerusalem and not to repeat these provocations that we have noticed during the course of the last two weeks," he added.
Earlier this month, according to reports, Israeli police stopped a visit organized by Palestinian Christian groups with foreign diplomats, as they tried to enter the Old City of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the Civil Administration, an Israeli government body controlling the West Bank territory operating under the Defense Ministry, green-lighted the construction of 300 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Beit El near Ramallah.
Since May 16, Israeli police have temporarily barred non-Muslim tourists from entering a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem in what they said was an effort to end recent Palestinian demonstrations.
The decision followed disturbances on May 15 in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem where police used stun grenades, water cannons and mounted officers against Palestinians who hurled rocks during protests marking the anniversary of Israel's foundation in 1948.
Last week, in separate phone talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed "recent tensions in East Jerusalem, and more particularly restrictions of access to Muslim and Christian holy sites".
Ban conveyed his concerns to the Israeli authorities, urging Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law.
The secretary-general stressed to both leaders "the importance of respect for the religious freedom of all, and that worshippers of all faiths should have access to their holy sites".