Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sabotaged the mission of a delegation of Mideast Quartet diplomats, who were set to arrive in the occupied territories to help end the ongoing violence there.
“The Israelis told us that this is not a good time to talk about diplomatic matters,” a Western diplomat told the Israeli media on Monday after reports that the envoys from the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, had been told by the Israeli premier to cancel their trip to the occupied territories this week.
The envoys planned to hold discussions with Israeli and Palestinian officials in order to try to help calm the unrest that has plagued the occupied territories especially the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in the recent weeks.
“Apparently they were also concerned that the visit of Quartet envoys would increase international pressure on Israel,” the Western diplomat said.
On Sunday, Netanyahu told European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in a telephone conversation that the diplomats’ visit to the occupied territories was not feasible.
At least 27 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds of others injured by Israeli troops in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since October 1.
The tensions were triggered by the Tel Aviv regime’s imposition of sweeping restrictions on entries into the the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on August 26 and Israeli settlers’ repeated attacks on the mosque.
The site is Islam’s third holiest after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. It is also highly respected by Jews and Christians.
International condemnations have poured in over the the Israeli crackdown on Palestinian protesters.
In a statement on Sunday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed Israel’s “indiscriminate or deliberate” use of fire on observers and Palestinian demonstrators.
“Indiscriminate or deliberate firing on observers and demonstrators who pose no imminent threat violates the international standards that bind Israeli security forces,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the international rights group.
On October 6, Israeli forces shot and wounded a HRW researcher, whose name has not been revealed, while she was observing a rally outside the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
Palestinians warn Israel of Intifada
On October 9, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called the recent spate of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in West Bank and East al-Quds an “Intifada (uprising)” against the Tel Aviv regime.
“We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the Intifada... It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” Haniyeh said during a sermon at a mosque in Gaza City.
“Gaza will fulfill its role in the al-Quds Intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation,” he pointed out.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on September 22 warned Israel of another Intifada over the intensification of clashes in al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.
“What is happening is very dangerous,” Abbas said, urging Netanyahu to “stop” the Israeli raids on Palestinian worshipers in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The continuation of Israeli raids on Palestinians in the holy site can lead to “an Intifada which we don't want”, Abbas added.