5 November 2014 – Jerusalem: Continued Israeli Provocations and Illegal Settlements

Excellency,

I have been instructed to once again draw your urgent attention to the critical situation and dangerously rising tensions in Occupied East Jerusalem due to the continuation of illegal actions, consisting of provocations and incitement by Israel, the occupying Power, including in particular by right-wing Israeli government officials, extremist settlers and religious zealots, against the Palestinian people, their land and their holy places.  Provocations and incitement have intensified in both frequency and aggressiveness in the recent weeks and continue to aggravate religious sensitivities and the fragile and volatile situation on the ground, threatening to precipitate a religious conflict and to plunge the region into further instability and violence.

For the second time in a week, Israeli occupying forces sealed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, preventing the entry of Palestinian worshippers.  This provocative action set off another round of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli extremists, who continue to agitate at this Holy Site. In what can only be seen as a clear attempt to stoke already-high tensions, early this morning, a group of Israeli extremists, protected by more than 300 Israeli occupying forces, stormed the compound firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at Palestinian worshippers, causing serious injuries to at least 30 people, inflicting serious injuries on two of the worshippers.  Moreover, it was reported that Israeli extremists entered Al-Aqsa mosque with their shoes on in a shameful sign of disrespect and with the purpose to infuriate Palestinian worshippers while eyewitnesses at the scene reported that occupying forces threw books of the Holy Quran on the floor.

In addition to such repeated violent raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Israeli actions and restrictions continue to violate the religious rights of the Palestinian people, with the ongoing ban on male Palestinian worshippers under 50 years of age from entering the compound and the demand that Palestinian women relinquish their identity cards upon entering. Over the past few days, Israeli government officials have compounded such provocations and incitement by displaying utter disrespect for Israel’s obligations under international law and disregard for the countless calls by the international community to calm the situation and diffuse tensions in Jerusalem.  Only a few examples occurred yesterday,5 November, when Israel’s deputy transportation minister Tzipi Hotovely entered the compound escorted by occupying forces, which was preceded by a visit on Sunday, 2 November by right-wing MK Moshe Feiglin, who again entered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as entry was restricted for Palestinian worshippers.

Moreover, actions blatantly intended to assert Israeli control over the compound continue unabated despite assurances given by the Israeli Prime Minister to the international community.  This has included the facilitation of such incursions by Israeli extremists and government representatives and the continuing rhetoric regarding so-called plans to spatially and temporally divide Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which must be firmly rejected. In this regard, we reiterate the imperative of respect for the longstanding status quo at this Holy Site, agreed to and respected by all parties for decades. We recall the strong messages conveyed at the recent emergency meeting of the Security Council calling for respect of this historic status quo, and we reiterate the Security Council’s determination that all such measures by Israel, the occupying Power, “to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”.

We once again caution of the extreme dangers of these illegal Israeli actions and provocations and incitement at Al-Haram Al-Sharif.  These actions are inflaming this extremely volatile situation, with grave implications.  In this regard, we recall that that the Al-Aqsa Compound is a holy site for more than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide and risks provoking anger among the Muslim population.

Furthermore, we must draw attention to Israel’s continued pursuit of its illegal settlement campaign, which, in addition to the unabated construction of settlements in the recent period has included the destruction and confiscation of Palestinian lands and properties,as occurred last week in Silwan in Occupied East Jerusalem, as well as its forced displacement of Palestinian families.  In this regard, we condemn the latest announcement by the Israeli government, on 3 November, regarding the approval of more illegal settlement construction in Occupied East Jerusalem. The decision was for another 640 units once again in the illegal settlement of “Ramat Shlomo” located in the south of the City. We condemn this announcement and reject the occupying Power’s illegal policies, which attempt to change the facts on the ground, undermine the possibility of achieving the ever- diminishing two-State solution, and clearly show Israel’s lack of commitment to a genuine peaceful solution.

The Security Council must act seriously to uphold its resolutions, including by undertaking action to ensure respect of those resolutions by Israel, the occupying Power, and compliance with all of its obligations there under and in accordance with the relevant provisions of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. We urge the Security Council to act now to diffuse this dangerous situation and demand from Israel, the occupying Power, to cease all illegal actions and provocations and incitement, whether it is the continuation of illegal settlement building or violent and illegal actions taken at the Al-Aqsa Compound.  We also call on the Security Council to clearly demand that the Government of Israel cease any and all attempts to alter or change the status quo at these Holy Sites that has been accepted and respected by all for decades.

This letter is in follow-up to our 526 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which constitutes the State of Palestine. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432-S/2000/921) to 30 October  2014 (A/ES-10/xxx-S/2014/xxx) constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter made available to the members of the Security Council for their immediate and valuable consideration.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Riyad Mansour

Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the

State of Palestine to the United Nations