Palestinian president meets UN secretary general

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in West Bank

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) shakes hands with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah October 21, 2015.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon on Wednesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, as violence between Palestinians and Israelis continues.

Ban denounced "hateful discourse" from both Palestinians and Israelis and stated that the Israeli response to Palestinian knife attacks added "to the already difficult challenges of restoring calm."

At least 48 Palestinians, including 24 attackers, have been killed by the Israeli police since the start of October, while nine Israelis have been stabbed. The current wave of violence came about after clashes in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound clashes and a controversial crackdown by Israel.

Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is in Jerusalem’s Old City, is Islam's third holiest site, but Jews also claim that it is the location of two ancient Jewish temples.

After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday and Abbas on Wednesday, Ban stated that the status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque should be re-enforced.

After the meeting, Abbas affirmed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had to protect the Palestinian people from Israeli aggression by all means. He asked the international community to protect Palestinians from Israel. 

"We have lost the ability to protect ourselves," he said. "We have no other choice but to seek international protection."

"We hope the UN will help us protect our people from the [Jewish] settlers terrorism and Israeli collective punishment," he added.

Following talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Ban called for an international active role to end the ongoing aggression by Israel against the Palestinians,  even though he said he was "not optimistic," accusing Israel of being the main instigator of the current violence.

"There is no justification for the killing," Ban said after meeting Abbas. 

"We will continue to support all efforts to create the conditions to make meaningful negotiations possible," he added.

“The storming of the holy places [by Jewish extremists and Israeli security forces] led to the current wave of violence. No one can continue with the current situation between Israel and the Palestinians."

On Wednesday, Israeli police shot a Palestinian man who stabbed and injured an Israeli man in the settlement of Adam in the occupied West Bank.

Also on Wednesday, an Israeli settler was "accidentally" shot dead by a private security guard in Jerusalem after he was mistaken for a "terrorist," a police spokesman said. 

Police reported that the incident occured after an argument broke out between the man and two armed guards as he was trying to get onto a bus.

The guards stated that they asked for the man's identity papers but he allegedly attempted to get a hold of one of their guns. This led them to believe he was a "terrorist" so they shot him dead.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, in the Six Day War of 1967 and annexed the territory in 1980. However, the international community does not recognise the annexation.

The Al-Aqsa compound has been a source of religious and political tension for decades between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as a frequent flashpoint for violence. Similar clashes took place at the end of July.

From 1967, to 2003, Jordan was in charge of Al Aqsa Mosque, regulating the entry of non-Muslims. When former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon sent Israeli security forces to raid Al-Aqsa in an attempt to change the status quo, his actions triggered the second intifida.

In 2003 the Israeli government decided to hand over authority of the mosque to the Israeli security forces.

Speaking in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinian people are frustrated with the failure of the peace talks.

The peace talks, which were aimed at securing a Palestinian state, collapsed in April 2014.

"Our youth is pressured and desperate over the Israeli government's failure and the absence of any political future that would provide hope of a fair and just peace allowing our people to be independent beside the state of Israel," Abbas said in Ramallah.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to clarify the status of Al-Aqsa Mosque, to help bring an end to the latest bloodshed.

"Israel understands the importance of the status quo and ... our objective is to make sure that everyone understands what that means," Kerry said in a news conference in Madrid.

Kerry is preparing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu in Germany and will also meet with the Jordanian King, Abdullah II, and Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, likely in Amman in the upcoming weeks to try to help resolve the current violence.

TRTWorld and agencies