UAE urges Israel to 'de-escalate tension' in East Jerusalem and West Bank

Almost 300 people were killed over 11 days of violence during fighting between militant group Hamas and the Israeli military, and related clashes in the occupied West Bank

Mahmoud Al-Masri, 14, stands for a portrait in his bedroom that was damaged when an airstrike destroyed the neighboring building prior to a cease-fire that halted an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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The UAE reaffirmed its position on the Middle East peace process on Tuesday by expressing support for international efforts to push for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Fierce fighting erupted for 11 days last month between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. More than 256 people in Gaza were killed in the conflict, in addition to 26 Palestinians in the West Bank. Thirteen people died within Israel.

A ceasefire was agreed last week.

During a session on Palestine, the UAE’s permanent delegate to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Jarman, urged Israel to “de-escalate tension and preserve the religious and legal identity of the occupied East Jerusalem, underlining the sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque”, state news agency WAM reported.

Mr Al Jarman also called on Israel to end its “forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah”.

The UAE ambassador called for diplomacy by urging both sides to "initiate serious confidence-building negotiations aimed at ensuring security, stability and decent life for the Palestinians, Israelis and the region at large".

Mr Al Jarman expressed the UAE's support for the UN Security Council's statement that called for an ongoing ceasefire.

The conflict started after weeks of increasing Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem, which resulted in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.

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During the fighting, Israel bombed close to 1,000 targets in Gaza, while militants in the Gaza Strip fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel.

Mr Al Jarman said it was vital to respond to calls made by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to "work with international organisations to develop support for a swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery for the Palestinian people and establishments".

Last week, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, welcomed the ceasefire in Gaza and said the UAE was willing to play a role in helping to maintain lasting peace.

Sheikh Mohamed emphasised "the need for additional efforts, especially by Israeli and Palestinian leaders, stressing that the UAE is ready to work with all parties to maintain the ceasefire and explore new paths to reduce escalation and achieve peace", Wam reported.