Top EU diplomat calls for easing tensions in Jerusalem

The EU foreign policy chief on Monday called on all sides to respect the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent clashes and violence, including this morning in and around Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount,” Josep Borrell said at a press conference after a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers.

“All sides are urged to respect the status quo of the holy sites.”

Borrell also repeated the bloc’s previous statements condemning the eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and other areas of occupied East Jerusalem.

He stressed that these actions were a “matter of serious concern” for the EU since they are illegal under international humanitarian law and “only fuel tensions on the ground.”

“It is important that everything possible is done to avoid to fueling tensions,” Borrell stressed, welcoming the Israeli authorities’ decision to stop Jewish worshippers from accessing the site as a “positive one that can calm the situation.”

Recent weeks have seen a serious rise in tensions and violence in the occupied West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem over the eviction of Palestinians to construct Israeli settlements.

On Friday night, Israeli forces attacked Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims.

Heavily armed Israeli forces stormed the mosque compound again on Monday morning, firing rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at Palestinians, wounding more than 300.

Tensions have run high in the Sheikh Jarrah area since last week as Israeli settlers have swarmed in after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there illegal.

Like Turkey and much of the international community, the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since 1967.

Since 2001, the EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the already existing ones.

Source: Anadolu Agency