Jordan on Monday requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Israeli plans to build more Jewish homes in Arab East Jerusalem, diplomats said.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Monday that Israel has every right to build homes in its capital city; Israel effectively annexed East Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 war.
In a statement, Amman’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the move was a breach of Israel’s commitments and would push peace efforts further away.
The move represents a “huge slap in the face of efforts taken to restart Palestinian-Israeli negotiations aimed at the incarnation of a two-state solution based on well-known international references and the Arab Peace Initiative,” the ministry said in a statement, according to Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.
Jordan, a Security Council member, put forward the request for an emergency meeting late Monday and was awaiting a response from Argentina, which chairs the 15-member council, on setting a date.
A spokesman for Jordan’s mission to the United Nations said his country will request an emergency UN Security Council meeting on behalf of the Palestinians, who have written to the council president about “dangerously escalating tensions” in East Jerusalem.
Laith Ibrahim Obeidat confirmed the request in a message Monday and said his country, a council member, will ask the council president to set a date.
Diplomats told AFP the meeting was unlikely to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Judeh also held talks with US, UN and European counterparts to pressure Israel from “committing violations” on the Temple Mount, The Jordanian Petra news agency reported.
The Jordanian security council request came on the heels of a Palestinian request submitted Monday by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. A letter from Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour to the council president on Monday called on the international community to demand that Israel “cease forthwith all of its illegal settlement activities” in East Jerusalem and elsewhere.
According to the communique, the Palestinian leader is calling for international intervention to stop “Israeli violations” in Jerusalem, and alleged “attacks” by “settlers” at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Abbas’s spokesman said the PA would ask the UN to prevent further building over the Green Line, amid reports that Netanyahu approved 1,000 new units in East Jerusalem Monday.
Earlier Monday, Abbas said news of the planned 1,000 new homes would spur Ramallah to continue its drive for statehood.
“These developments push us to decide and turn to international agencies and the [UN] Security Council as soon as possible,” Abbas said in a statement.
“This announcement amounts to evidence of an intent to further commit crimes defined by and punishable under international law,” Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Abbas and former chief peace negotiator, said in a release from his office.
A source in Netanyahu’s office said Monday morning the prime minister had okayed the planning for some 600 homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood and another 400 in Har Homa. The source also said the state would go ahead with the building of 12 new roads in the West Bank, which would also be used by Palestinians.
The move is likely to cause an “explosion” of violence,” warned senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub.
“Such unilateral acts will lead to an explosion,” Rajoub told reporters at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Rajoub, a senior figure within Abbas’s Fatah movement, said it was likely that such a move would only inflame tensions in the eastern sector of the city, which has been swept by almost-daily clashes over the past four months.
It would be a mistake to expect the Palestinians to simply ignore such actions, Rajoub added.
“Mr. Netanyahu should not expect a white flag from the Palestinian people,” he said.
Abbas sent an urgent message to the United States Sunday, asking the administration to stop “Israeli escalations” in East Jerusalem.
According to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas emphasized what he described as “incursions by extremist settlers” into the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. He warned that Israeli actions around holy sites would lead to a dangerous and uncontrollable “explosion.”
Netanyahu’s announcement came a day after Israeli politicians warned of a backlash following a report that Netanyahu intended to push through some 2,000 new homes in the West Bank as well as a large package of infrastructure projects, in a deal with settlement leaders and right-wing lawmakers.
On Monday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited the al-Aqsa Mosque. At the shrine — on a hilltop compound, revered by both Jews and Muslims — Hamdallah declared that “there will not be a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Temple Mount has been a source of friction between Israel and the Palestinians in recent months, with Palestinians frequently clashing with police in protests against Jewish visitors to the compound and Israeli politicians calling for Jews to be allowed to pray there.
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon granted Hamdallah and other Palestinian officials permission to travel to the Temple Mount. But Netanyahu alleged on Sunday that rising tensions between Muslim worshipers and Israeli security forces were the fault of “the Palestinian Authority, [President] Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas, and personnel from Islamic organizations.”
Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have accused Israel of trying to Judaize the site, with Abbas denouncing “incursions by extremist settlers” and joining Hamas in calling for Palestinians to defend it.
The visit by Hamdallah comes as the city continues to experience near-daily protests and incidents of violence in East Jerusalem, including a terror attack last Wednesday in which a Palestinian man plowed his car into a crowd of people near a light rail stop, killing two people, one of whom was a three-month-old girl.