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UN Security Council meets on Jerusalem but holds off on statement

US mission did not immediately comment on SC meeting

By AFP - May 11,2021 - Last updated at May 11,2021

Israeli forces detain a Palestinian protester amid clashes in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday, ahead of a planned march to commemorate Israel's takeover of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War (AFP photo)

UNITED NATIONS, United States — The UN Security Council (SC) held an urgent meeting on Monday on unrest in Jerusalem but issued no immediate statement, with diplomats saying the United States believed public comments would be counterproductive.

Negotiations were continuing among the 15 nations on the Security Council on a text that could be watered down from an initial draft proposed by Norway, diplomats said.

The United States, according to one diplomat, said in the closed-door videoconference that it was "working behind the scenes" to calm the situation and that it was "not sure that a statement at this point would help".

The Security Council meeting came after the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, telephoned his Israeli counterpart and voiced "serious concerns" about potential Israeli evictions of Palestinians in the holy city that have helped fuel tensions.

Shortly after the Security Council meeting, organisers of a pro-Israel march that had become a flashpoint cancelled the event.

The draft Security Council statement, seen by AFP, would call on Israel to "cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions", including in East Jerusalem.

The Norwegian draft was jointly put forward with Tunisia, a fellow non-permanent member that called Monday's meeting, as well as China.

In the draft statement, which is a step below a resolution, the Security Council members would voice “their grave concern regarding escalating tensions and violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem”, which Israel occupied and considers part of its capital.

The draft also calls for “exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and upholding and respecting the historic status quo at the holy sites”.

The US mission at the United Nations did not immediately comment on the Security Council meeting.

The United States is the top ally of Israel but President Joe Biden has looked also to support Palestinian rights following the hawkishly pro-Israel administration of Donald Trump.

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