Abbas calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting on Jerusalem

PA president says international body must end ‘settler attacks’ on Temple Mount and Israeli construction over the Green Line

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a request Monday for an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the unrest in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

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 Prime Minister Benjamin 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.

AP contributed to this report.

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