The envoys of the Middle East Quartet (Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations) issued a statement on Saturday expressing their “deep concern” over the escalating tensions and violent clashes taking place in and around the Old City of Jerusalem and elsewhere around Israel.
Dozens of arrests were made this weekend, and more were injured in the clashes that took place as thousands of frenzied Muslim worshipers hurled rocks, bottles, firebombs (Molotov cocktails) and lit fireworks at Israeli police and security forces during protests over metal detectors installed at entrances to the Temple Mount compound. At least two people were reported killed in the clashes.
In a statement posted in English on the U.S. State Department website, on Twitter and elsewhere, the Quartet said, “They strongly condemn acts of terror, express their regret for all loss of innocent life caused by the violence, and hope for a speedy recovery to the wounded.
“Noting the particular sensitivities surrounding the holy sites in Jerusalem, and the need to ensure security, the Quartet Envoys call on all to demonstrate maximum restraint, refrain from provocative actions and work towards de-escalating the situation.
“The Envoys welcome the assurances by the Prime Minister of Israel that the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem will be upheld and respected.
“They encourage Israel and Jordan to work together to uphold the status quo, noting the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom as recognized in its peace treaty with Israel.
“The Quartet Envoys reiterate that violence deepens mistrust and is fundamentally incompatible with achieving a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The reminder is a pointed one, inasmuch as it has been the Palestinian Authority — and the Jordanian Parliament — who have been generating much of the incitement to violence over the upgraded security measures at the Temple Mount.
The new metal detectors were installed a week ago following the murder of two Israeli police officers and wounding of several officers in an attack carried out by three Israeli Arab terrorists who emerged with their weapons from within the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. The weapons were smuggled in to the site with the aid of an accomplice who helped stash the guns in the mosque several days prior to the attack.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced this weekend that he is suspending all contacts with Israel at all levels until the metal detectors are removed from the site.
Since metal detectors have existed for years at the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Western Wall, both holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, and at every holy site in Turkey, the demand not only makes no sense but also makes it clear that it is simply being used as a flimsy excuse upon which to attempt to launch another intifada.