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October 25, 2015

UN Says Choose Non-Violence

This week while Israeli and Palestinian leaders continued to accuse each other of inciting violence, US Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Palestinians and Israelis to deescalate the tensions.

At the beginning of the week Ban spoke directly to Israelis and Palestinians through a video message. Ban told Palestinian youth, “I understand your frustration. I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times. You are angry at the continued occupation and expansion of settlements. Many of you are disappointed in your leaders and in us, the international community, because of our inability to end this conflict. [You should turn your frustrations into] a strong, but peaceful, voice for change.”

Addressing both the leaders and people of Israeli, Ban said,” I appreciate your genuine concern about peace and security. I also understand the anger many Israelis feel when children are afraid to go to school, when anyone on the street is a potential victim, security is rightly your immediate priority. But walls, checkpoints, harsh responses by the security forces and house demolitions cannot sustain the peace and safety that you need and must have.”

Jerusalem

With stabbing attacks in Jerusalem showing no signs of abating, Netanyahu chose to put up roadblocks and additional checkpoints throughout East Jerusalem following an October 14th Cabinet meeting. That same day top Jerusalem city council members suggested closing off East Jerusalem to pedestrian and vehicle traffic completely. While many city council members agreed with the proposal, council member Yitzhak Pindrus of United Torah Judaism said, “Such a plan would not last 10 minutes. All of the drivers, half of the doctors, and 80 percent of the light-rail train conductors come from East Jerusalem. What do they want? To paralyze the city?”

Temple Mount/Al Aqsa

Amidst ongoing debate over whether or not Israelis and Palestinians have violated the status quo on the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa, France offered a potential solution through a draft text to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last Saturday. The French initiative would station independent observers on the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa to “identify potential violations of the status quo.” In the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) a controversial draft resolution was passed. This UNESCO resolution condemned the “aggression and illegal measures taken against the freedom of worship and access of Muslims to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s attempts to break the status quo since 1967.” It also recognized Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as Muslim sites.

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