UNITED NATIONS, November 20 (Sputnik) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken separately by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging both sides to de-escalate tensions amid an upsurge in violence.
According to a UN statement released Thursday, Ban Ki-moon "was shocked by the deadly attack of November 18 on a synagogue in West Jerusalem and extremely alarmed by the upsurge of violence in recent weeks" and "emphasized that at this delicate and dangerous juncture, courage and responsibility were required from both the President and the Prime Minister to take a stand that may be contrary to extremists in their own domestic constituencies".
The UN Secretary General also expressed hope that "the recently announced confidence-building measures and firm commitments made by both sides at the meeting in Amman to maintain the status quo regarding the holy sites would be further translated into a de-escalation of tensions", the statement said.
"Absent this, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may quickly morph into a religious conflict, over which the international community will have limited, if no, leverage," the statement stressed.
On Tuesday, five people were killed and six wounded in a terrorist attack, carried out by two Palestinian men, cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, at a synagogue in Jerusalem's western Har Nof neighbourhood. Both terrorists were shot dead by the police.
The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, an armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for the synagogue killings.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council condemned the attack and called on Palestinian and Israeli leaders to avoid all provocations and seek a path toward peace.
On Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin said the "axe attack on people saying their prayers" in Jerusalem "goes beyond all limits".