(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Escalating tensions surrounding access to the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem have contributed significantly to the spike in violence between Israel and Palestine, UN official told the Security Council Monday.
Interim Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Jens Toyberg-Frandzen briefed the Security Council during a session on Middle East, that the escalation of tension in Jerusalem alarmed the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
On daily basis, clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli Security forces in many parts of East Jerusalem and West Bak have been taking place, Toyberg-Frandzen added.
Of particular concern, the official noted, are attacks against religious sites, also given how such violence can resonate regionally and beyond.
Toyberg-Frandzen expressed deep concern that violence has spread elsewhere in Israel and the West Bank, of which a total of 494 Palestinians, including 60 children and eight women were injured by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank.
The Secretary General has expressed his deep concern about the upsurge in violence and called on all sides to do everything possible to avoid further exacerbating an already tense environment, he added.
Preventing a further escalation of tensions makes it essential that all sides demonstrate responsible leadership, avoid taking provocative unilateral actions and refrain from inciting their supporters through inflammatory rhetoric, he told the UNSC.
Toyberg-Frandzen said that another worrying development is the increase in demolitions of Palestinian buildings, which is also contributing to rising animosity in Jerusalem.
Since October 21, he confirmed, a total of 82 structures of which 47 are residential, were demolished in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Such demolishings displaced 169 Palestinians, including 80 children he added.
Meanwhile, Israel's ongoing settlement activity continued to undermine efforts to calm the tensions in Jerusalem, he said.
Settlement activity constitute a violated of International Law, fuels further polarization and heightens the levels of mistrust between both sides, he noted.
"Returning to negotiations has never been more important," he said.
The UN official stressed that the absence of a credible political framework further hardened positions on both sides, and provided greater political space to those seeking to exploit the lack of trust between the two parties for personal political gain.
While some signs of progress have gradually started to emerge, the overall state of affairs in Gaza remains "volatile and fraught" with potential pitfalls, he said.
The temporary Gaza reconstruction mechanism began its operations earlier this month, he said. Led by the Palestinian Government of National Consensus and working through the private sector, the mechanism's priority is the provision of reconstruction material of urgent shelter repair.
By November 13, 1,086 Gazans had been able to purchase much needed construction material.