Oslo, Nov 7: "Israel’s recent announcement that it will continue to build new settlements in East Jerusalem is completely unacceptable" said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The political situation in Jerusalem is highly volatile, not least due to the recent Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif clashes. Muslims fear that existing rules for religious coexistence in Jerusalem may be changed in response to pressure by extreme Jewish groups. Muslim protests have been clamped down on by Israeli armed police.
‘Jerusalem is a holy city for three different religions. Respect for each other’s faith and holy sites is a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence. It is important that nothing is done to upset the fragile balance between these religions. The integrity of the holy sites and the status quo must not be undermined, but must be fully respected. Moreover, Israel’s recent announcement that it will continue to build new settlements in East Jerusalem is completely unacceptable. This is in violation of international law,’ said Foreign Minister Brende.
On several occasions in recent weeks Palestinians have carried out attacks on cilivians by randomly driving cars into pedestrians in Jerusalem. This creates an atmosphere of widespread fear.
‘I condemn the attacks in Jerusalem. Violence against civilians and incitements to terror can not be accepted under any circumstances.
‘In the tense situation that currently prevails, both sides must do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation. The escalation of rhetoric by extremists on both sides must stop. I strongly deplore the recent statements by the Hamas spokeman in Gaza in this context.
‘It is more important than ever for both sides to strive to build the confidence that is needed for negotiations on a lasting two-state solution to be resumed as quickly as possible,’ said Foreign Minister Brende.
* Oslo times