The governments of Nigeria, the United States and others have urged leaders of both Israel and Palestine to urgently take a public stand against extremism, saying the surge in violence was deeply troubling.
Addressing the United Nations Security Council’s briefing on the situation in the Middle East on Friday, the Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Joy Uche Ogwu,, said fears had been expressed that unless the situation was contained, the rise of a third intifada might not be far-fetched.
Condemning the recent killings, Ogwu emphasised that extremists on both sides must not be allowed to hijack the political agenda.
She added that provocative action and hostile rhetoric must be avoided by both sides.
Speaking further, the Nigerian official said crucial element was maintaining the status quo around the holy sites.
Noting that the underlying problem was the lack of progress in the peace process, she called upon Palestinian and Israeli leaders to return to the negotiating table.
A two-state solution could end the conflict and settlement expansion undermined its prospects, she said, calling for an immediate cessation of settlement construction in the Occupied Territory.
In her own briefing, the United States envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power, condemned terrorist attacks and other recent violence, urging both parties to exercise restraint. She added that prospects for a two-State solution appeared to be diminishing was no excuse for stabbing innocent people.
Mrs Power said that while her delegation supported Israel’s right to defend its citizens, it was concerned about Palestinian deaths under live fire by the Israeli Defence Forces, as well as settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. She also said that the United States supported steps to stabilize the situation and make progress towards a two-state solution.
She pressed further that significant policy advances, especially in Area C, would increase the Palestinian Authority’s ability to address economic and institutional challenges, to be pursued while respecting Israel’s security needs.
Also speaking, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation expressed hope that the UN Secretary-General’s efforts, and the Quartet’s upcoming meeting in Vienna, would attenuate the Palestinian-Israeli situation. He noted that the Russian initiative for the Council to visit the region remained timely.
According to him, radical change would not happen unless political prospects were reopened to start negotiations on final status issues and on the two-State solution.
He cited the Arab Peace Initiative, among other efforts, in that regard. The main task was to resume negotiations and resolve final status issues, and as well rejected ongoing settlement activity, urging that Palestinian unity be restored on the platform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.