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Middle East Quartet calls on Israel to exercise restraint

BRUSSELS

The Middle East Quartet — EU, US, Russia, and the UN –urged Israeli authorities to exercise restraint following attacks by Israeli police on Palestinians at Al-Aqsa in East Jerusalem.

The group demanded that Israel avoid taking measures that would raise tensions during the holy days of Muslims in a joint statement.

Representatives of the Quartet, which aims to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine, said the group is monitoring situations in East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Noting they are deeply concerned about incidents that broke out Friday when Palestinians and Israeli police faced off in conflicts and acts of violence, representatives voiced concern about the provocative statements by certain political groups, rockets launched at Israel from Gaza, and attacks on farmland belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank.

The statement emphasized participants’ commitment to a two-state solution to be achieved through negotiations.

It voiced grave concerns regarding Palestinian families getting forcibly evicted from their homes where they have lived for generations in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods and said the group is against any one-sided action which would further escalate the situation that was already tense.

The statement went on to say that Israeli authorities must act with restraint and urged them to avoid taking any measures that would raise tensions during the holy days of Muslims.

The Quartet asked all parties to protect and respect the status of holy sites. They asked all leaders to take action against extremists and raise their voices against acts of violence and provocations.

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East Jerusalem, under occupation, has had some very intense few days due to the threat of forced relocation against Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Attacks by the Israeli police on Al-Aqsa have further added to tensions in the holy city.

Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent days have protested in solidarity with residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood amid clashes with Israeli police.

Protests came as the Israeli Central Court in East Jerusalem approved a decision to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Israeli settlers at the beginning of 2021.

Israeli police engaged worshippers in Al-Aqsa late Friday during tarawih prayer with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Israeli police attempted to disperse worshippers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Friday evening, using stun grenades and gas bombs.

Women were also targeted by Israeli forces, according to witnesses.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed that at least 285 Palestinians have been injured in conflicts.

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