UN Security Council to hold emergency consultation on Jerusalem unrest
No resolution expected to be brought up at meeting requested by Europeans, China and UAE, amid calls for calm and against ‘dangerous Israeli escalation’ on restive Temple Mount
Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief
The UN Security Council will convene an emergency closed-door session Tuesday to discuss recent unrest in Jerusalem, a UN diplomat said Monday.
The meeting comes as tensions in the region have spiraled, with several days of intense clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police on the Temple Mount sparking fears that a wider conflagration could be ignited.
On Monday evening, violence threatened to ramp up further, as Israeli communities near the Gaza border came under rocket attack from Palestinian enclave, with the projectile intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.
Requests for the Security Council meeting were made by France, China, Ireland, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates, the UN diplomat told The Times of Israel, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli and Palestinian envoys will not be invited to the meeting, and no draft resolution on the situation is being discussed or is expected to be proposed, diplomats said.
Instead, the meeting will largely serve as an opportunity for member states to receive an update on the situation from the UN’s envoy for the Mideast peace process Tor Wennesland, two diplomats on the council told The Times of Israel.
On Friday, Wennesland urged “both sides to immediately de-escalate the situation and prevent any further provocations by radical actors,” following the fiercest clashes seen in over a year at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
Fighting resumed on Sunday as Palestinian rioters attempted to prevent Jewish pilgrims from reaching the Mount. The compound is the holiest site for Jews, as the site where the two Jewish Temples once stood; it is the third holiest place for Muslims, who refer to it as the Haram al-Sharif or Al-Aqsa.
“The provocations on the Holy Esplanade must stop now,” Wennesland said Friday. “I call on political, religious, and community leaders on all sides to help calm the situation, avoid spreading inflammatory rhetoric and speak up against those seeking to escalate the situation. Allowing tensions to spiral further only risks another escalation.”
Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount to quell the riots, including police entering the mosque, arresting hundreds, and using tear gas and rubber bullets, have received international condemnation, including from allies Jordan and the UAE, whose leaders spoke by phone Monday.
“The UAE strongly condemned today Israeli forces’ storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which resulted in the injury of a number of civilians,” the Gulf state’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday, adding that it “underscored the need for self-restraint and protection for worshipers.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah spoke with the leaders of the UAE, Egypt, and other Arab states, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and European Council president Charles Michel about “regional and international efforts to stop the dangerous Israeli escalation,” according to state media in Amman.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett fumed in a video statement Monday evening that Israel was being blamed for violence directed at it. “There are those who are encouraging rock-throwing and the use of violence against the citizens of the State of Israel,” he said. “This is a reward for the inciters, especially Hamas, which are trying to ignite violence in Jerusalem.”
Officials have warned for months over the potential for violence in mid-April, as the major Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holidays of Passover, Ramadan, and Easter collided.
Tensions had already been on the rise in recent weeks, due to a series of deadly terror attacks inside Israel in late March and early April, sparking an Israeli military crackdown in the northern West Bank.