Jerusalem holy sites' status quo should be preserved: Guterres

by IANS |

United Nations, Jan 13 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for preserving the status quo of Jerusalem's holy sites and the two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel issue.

"I had the occasion to reaffirm that we must preserve the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem and that it is essential to preserve the two-state solution to avoid any initiative that might put at risk the two-state solution," Guterres told reporters after meeting with the Permanent Representatives of the Extended Troika of the Arab Group at the UN headquarters in New York.

Last week, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the flashpoint holy site Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, denounced by the Palestinian side as a provocation, reports Xinhua news agency.

The compound, known to the Jewish people as the Temple Mount, is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Guterres added that the UN "recognise the right of Israel to exist and to live in security".

At the same time, "the construction of settlements, the evictions, destruction of homes are creating an enormous anger and frustration not only of the Palestinian people but further afield".

Answering a follow-up question regarding the two-state solution, Guterres said, "what I believe is that there is no plan B, that to reject the possibility of a two-state solution is something that would undermine forever the possibilities of peace in the Middle East".

The Palestinians want to establish a Palestinian state on the territories seized by Israel in 1967, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel insists that the city is its capital.

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