UN chief discusses Jerusalem tensions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres discussed the ongoing flare-up of tensions around Jerusalem’s holy sites in separate calls Saturday with the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian president.

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In statements released after both calls, the UN said Guterres discussed “efforts to lower tensions, end provocations and unilateral steps, and restore calm”.

More than 200 people, mostly Palestinians, have been wounded over the past week in clashes in and around the Al-Aqsa compound, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews.

Palestinians have been outraged by a massive Israeli police deployment and repeated visits by Jews to the holy site, which is governed through a tenuous power-sharing agreement.

Guterres “reiterated that the status quo at the Holy Sites must be upheld and respected,” both statements read.

The clashes at Al-Aqsa come amid a wave of deadly violence, which has sparked fears of a wider conflict.

Rocket launches from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday prompted retaliatory strikes from Israel.

But after similar attacks from Gaza on Friday night and Saturday morning, Israel decided not to launch counterattacks, instead saying it would close its only border to the enclave on Sunday.

Read more:

Israeli forces use drone to drop tear gas on Palestinian worshipers in al-Aqsa

UN ‘deeply concerned’ by violence in Israel, Palestine territories

Israeli police, Palestinians clash at Jerusalem holy site

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