The UN Security Council (UNSC) was convened against the backdrop of renewed violence in Gaza and the West Bank in recent weeks, in New York, Friday. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun cited the tensions at Jerusalem's holy sites - revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians alike - as the main cause of unrest. "Reckless statements made by extremist Palestinian and Israeli elements [...] have instigated that Israel is aiming to change the status quo at the holy sites. This fear has reverberated widely across the Arab world." Although he praised Israeli PM Netanyahu's recent statement, claiming that Israel is not trying to change the status quo, the assistant secretary-general said action must follow these words to have an impact. David Roet, Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, defended Israel's response to attacks by Palestinians, while US Ambassador to the UN urged to start a political process, taking into account both sides of the conflict. Russian ambassador to the UN Vitali Churkin said "Israel as occupying power bears the primary responsibility for the situation east of the Jordan River, including in East Jerusalem." He also expressed concern about the situation in Gaza, urging Israel to meet the UNSC's demands and lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
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