Arab leaders warn that Israeli actions threaten regional turmoil – KGET 17

CAIRO (AP) – Dozens of leaders and senior officials from Arab and Islamic countries warned Sunday that Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank could exacerbate regional turmoil as violence rises between Israel and the Palestinians.

The meeting in Cairo was hosted by the Arab League and was attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as many foreign ministers and senior officials.

The high-level gathering came amid one of the deadliest periods of fighting in years in Jerusalem and the neighboring Israeli-occupied territory. According to the Associated Press, 45 Palestinians have been killed so far this year. Palestinians killed 10 people on the Israeli side during that time.

Speakers at the meeting condemned Israel’s “unilateral measures” in Jerusalem and the West Bank in statements including the demolition of homes and settlement expansion.

They also condemned visits by Israeli officials to a disputed holy site in the city, which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims and has often been the epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian unrest.

There was no comment from the Israeli government.

Officials also expressed support for Jordan’s role as custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. The mosque is built on top of a hill in Jerusalem’s Old City which is the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because it was the site of the Jewish temples in antiquity.

Since Israel captured the site in the 1967 Middle East War, Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Calling Jerusalem “the backbone of the Palestinian cause”, el-Sissi warned of dire consequences for any Israeli move to change the status quo of the holy site, saying they would “negatively affect” future negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He said such measures would derail a long-sought solution to the conflict between the two states, which would leave “both sides and the entire Middle East with difficult and difficult options.”

El-Sissi, whose country was the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, called on the international community to “strengthen the two-state solution and create favorable conditions for the continuation of the peace process.”

King Abdullah II also called on Israel to stop violations and incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“The region cannot live in peace, stability and prosperity without any progress on the Palestinian cause,” he warned.

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary general of the pan-Arab organization, also warned that attempts to divide the Al-Aqsa mosque and erase its Arab and Islamic identity would “fuel endless unrest and violence.”

Abbas, the Palestinian president, said his administration would turn to the United Nations and its agencies and demand a resolution to protect a solution to the two-state conflict.

“The State of Palestine will continue to approach international courts and organizations to protect the legitimate rights of our people,” he said.

The ongoing spate of violence has put the region on edge. Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders and urged them to reduce tensions.

Israel is governed by the new far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many politicians in Netanyahu’s administration oppose Palestinian independence.

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