RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for negotiations and calm to stop escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians during a visit to the West Bank.
He traveled to Ramallah, West Bank, on Wednesday to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying the United Nations would "continue to support all efforts to create the conditions to make meaningful negotiations possible" between the two sides.
Tuesday he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
"I am here in the hope that we can work together to end the violence, ease the tensions and begin to restore a long-term political horizon of peace," he said. "Israelis and Palestinians are standing on the brink of another catastrophic period of violence. We need to keep the situation from escalating into religious conflict. ... We must create the conditions for meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation and realize the aspirations of both peoples."
A statement from Ban's office Tuesday noted his "anguish and deep concern" over the violence.
The past month has seen daily clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, typically involving stabbings of Israeli police officers and soldiers, and shootings of Palestinians. A
n attack on a bus station Sunday killed an Israeli security officer and injured 10 others, leading to a spike in additional violence. The increase in tension is ascribed to changes in access to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, regarded by Muslims as a holy site.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday with Ban, Netanyahu said, "In recent weeks, Israelis have been deliberately run over, shot, stabbed, even hacked to death. And in large part this is because President Abbas joined [the Islamic State] and Hamas in claiming that Israel threatens the al-Aqsa Mosque.
"This, Mr. Secretary, is a total lie. Israel vigorously protects the holy sites of all faiths. We keep the status quo. The Palestinians by contrast are the ones who violate the status quo."
Abbas, in contrast Wednesday, called for protection of Palestinians against "assaults by the occupation army and settler terrorism," adding Palestinians have "lost the ability to defend themselves against the settlers and army."