EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini on Thursday called on both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “promote calm” and “encourage restraint”amid an upsurge in Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank, and violent clashes between West Bank Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
“The continuing deadly violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, claiming lives of several people and injuring many more, poses a real risk of further escalation. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” she said in a statement.
“It is now vital that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas show leadership to promote calm, encourage restraint and avoid actions which further fuel tensions. The cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to de-escalate the situation and to restore order is crucially important,” the statement read.
Mogherini said in her statement both Israelis and Palestinians have “the right to live in security.”
She said Israel must conduct “a thorough investigation” on circumstances which led to the deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli security forces.
Mogherini also stressed the importance of Israel and the PA restarting peace talks.
“The way to tackle the violence and unrest is for both sides to move quickly to restart a credible political process. The immediate priority is for the parties to agree on substantial steps which improve the situation on the ground and build a path back to final status negotiations,” she said.
“Ultimately, a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to bring the lasting peace and security that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve,” the statement says.
On Wednesday, the White House expressed “deep concern” over the ongoing violence, calling on both sides to work to calm the tension that led to a string of terror attacks and clashes across the West Bank, Jerusalem and elsewhere.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the US “condemns in the strongest possible terms violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians.”
He called on “all parties to take affirmative steps to restore calm and refrain from actions and rhetoric that would further inflame tensions in that region of the world.”
Asked by a reporter if the latest spate of Palestinian terror attacks and West Bank clashes that left four Israelis and three Palestinian protesters dead marked the start of a “third intifada,” the White House spokesman declined to answer, instead expressing hope that “cooler heads” would prevail.
“I wouldn’t predict at this point what the future holds. What we’re hopeful is that despite the significance of the disagreements, that cooler heads will prevail, at least in preventing further violence and preventing a further escalation of an already tense situation,” he said.
Earnest addressed accusations by Palestinians and Israelis that the other side was violating the five-decade status quo on the Temple Mount that regulated Jewish-Muslim relations on the sensitive holy site.
“We continue to urge all sides to find a way back to the full restoration of the status quo at the Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif [the Muslim name for the site], the location that has precipitated so much of the violence that we’ve seen there,” Earnest said. “This has obviously long been a volatile region of the world and we continue to urge all sides to refrain from violence and refrain from the kind of activity that would only make tensions worse there.”
There were at least six Palestinian attacks across Israel on Wednesday — four targeting Israeli civilians and two against Israeli security forces, while Arab riots and protests continued both in the West Bank and in Arab communities in Jaffa, Lod and the Galilee. Thursday saw a further succession of terror attacks against Israelis by Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank.
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