Palestinians need 'UN protection force'

Situation in occupied territories "very explosive" and Security Council must do more, says Palestinian envoy to the UN.

    A relative of 27-year-old Palestinian Mutaz Zawahereh, who was killed by Israeli troops, is comforted [Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]
    A relative of 27-year-old Palestinian Mutaz Zawahereh, who was killed by Israeli troops, is comforted [Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]

    The Palestinians want the UN to consider deploying a protection force in occupied East Jerusalem to help quell violence, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations has said.

    Riyad Mansour said on Wednesday that the proposal would be included in a draft resolution aimed at defusing weeks of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Mansour said that the situation was "very explosive" and that the Security Council must find ways of "providing protection" to the Palestinians.

    "The situation warrants providing protection for our people in the occupied territory starting in the Old City of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque," Mansour said.

    There were repeated clashes at East Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound in September between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths.

    Arab ambassadors are due to meet at the UN on Thursday to discuss calls for an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the worsening violence.

    Mansour said the Arab countries were weighing a possible draft resolution that demands a withdrawal of Israeli security forces from flashpoint areas and calls for the deployment of the protection force at al-Aqsa.

    "We believe that some form of observers or international force [should] be placed there in order to guarantee that the status quo will be continued and to protect the Palestinian worshippers," said Mansour.

    Prospects for such a measure, however, were uncertain. The US has condemned attacks on Israeli civilians and called for a return to calm.

    The Palestinian envoy said the UN office of legal affairs had produced a 44-page report detailing options for the protection of Palestinians, but that the Security Council had yet to consult it.

    Israel set up checkpoints Wednesday in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and mobilised hundreds of soldiers as it struggled to stop attacks.

    Mansour called the checkpoints "collective punishment".

    At least 32 Palestinians have been killed over the past fortnight and seven Israelis have died.

    SOURCE: AFP


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