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UN official seeks to defuse tension at holy site in Jerusalem

8 October 2009 – A senior United Nations official today visited Jerusalem’s Harem Al Sharif/Temple Mount compound, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, in a bid to defuse tensions, calling for an immediate end to all provocations following recent clashes in the city.

“We cannot allow a further outbreak of violence or let extremists set the agenda,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said after the visit as a guest of Muslim religious authorities.

“This holy city is important to both Israelis and Palestinians, and to people of three great faiths. Incitement from any quarter regarding holy sites, as well as provocative actions in East Jerusalem, do not serve the sanctity of the city or the cause of peace, and must stop.”

Mr. Serry conveyed his assessment of the situation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

He said that from his visit and contacts it was clear that the situation was not yet resolved although tensions had somewhat eased, with everyone assuring him of their desire to see calm restored. “I trust that we will see immediate practical steps of de-escalation on the ground and messages of calm and responsibility in public statements,” he added.

He stressed that the way forward is for all parties to fulfil their commitments to the internationally endorsed Roadmap calling for two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, and to resume final status negotiations on all core issues, including the final status of Jerusalem.

“Only this offers a route to lasting peace for both peoples and this holy city,” he concluded.

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