Saudi Arabia, world leaders urge restraint on escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence

Update Saudi Arabia, world leaders urge restraint on escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence
An Israeli Border police officer walks up to the house of Palestinian gunman Khaire Alkam in A-Tur in East Jerusalem, after Alkam shot dead at least seven people near a synagogue in Neve Yaacov which lies on occupied land that Israel annexed to Jerusalem after the 1967 Middle East war, January 28, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 January 2023

Saudi Arabia, world leaders urge restraint on escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence

Saudi Arabia, world leaders urge restraint on escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence
  • Riyadh pushes for revival of peace process, end to occupation
  • Arab Americans prod Biden government to hold Israel accountable

WASHINGTON/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia warned on Saturday of the situation between Palestinians and Israelis escalating further after an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem.

“The Kingdom condemns targeting civilians, stressing the necessity of stopping the escalation, reviving the peace process and ending the occupation,” the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said.

World leaders also denounced the escalating violence and called for calm after a series of deadly incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem. 

An Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp on Thursday killed nine Palestinians. This was followed by a deadly shooting outside a Jerusalem synagogue on Friday and a gun attack by a 13-year-old Palestinian boy that wounded two in the city on Saturday.

Oman condemned “all forms of violence and terrorism that target civilians and undermine security and stability.”

Egypt said it “strongly condemned” the synagogue attack and “any attack against civilians.”

The UAE denounced “criminal acts” and all “violence and terrorism aimed at undermining security and stability in contravention of human values and principles.”

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to underscore that the synagogue shooting “was an attack against the civilized world.”

Russia's foreign ministry called for “maximum restraint” on both Israelis and Palestinians.

“We perceive this development of events with deep concern. We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further escalation of tension,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Recent events clearly confirm the need to urgently relaunch a constructive Palestinian-Israeli dialogue and to renounce unilateral actions,” it added.

The European Union denounced this week's attacks in Jerusalem and urged Israel to only use lethal force as a last resort.

“The European Union fully recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns, as evidenced by the latest terrorist attacks, but it has to be stressed that lethal force must only be used as a last resort when it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said the bloc's chief diplomat, Josep Borrell.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday he was “deeply shocked” by the “terrible” attacks in Jerusalem.

“There have been deaths and people wounded in the heart of Israel,” he said. 

Leaders of several Arab American organizations met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express concerns over the escalating violence and demand that Israel’s government be held accountable for it.

Blinken is planning to travel to the Middle East on Sunday.

Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said that the group pressed the secretary to impose “consequences,” on Israel’s government for the violent actions targeting Palestinian civilians. “Israel operates with impunity and Palestinians lose hope. We offered specific suggestions on things they might do.

Consequences are important. Israel should be made to pay for bad behavior,” he told Arab News. 

Members of the delegation expressed concern about US policy objectives and the situation in Palestine, not just in Jenin but also the mass displacement of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta in the West Bank. 

“Decades of US acquiescence to Israel’s policies of settlement expansion, land confiscation, home demo-litions, and a range of other human rights violations have led to an Israeli sense of impunity and Palestinian despair,” their statement said.

(with AFP)