Level of incitement to violence in Israel, Palestine "utterly unacceptable"

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the press at the Security Council stakeout on the situation in the Middle East. UN Photo/Mark Garten

The level of incitement to violence in Palestine and Israel, fuelling the current conflict, has been "utterly unacceptable" said the UN Secretary-General

Ban Ki-moon was speaking at UN headquarters on Friday, following his return from a three-day visit to the region, in an effort to restore calm.

Almost daily attacks by Palestinians on Jews in and around Jerusalem, and a violent crackdown by Israeli government forces have been going on for a month.

Matthew Wells reports.

Around sixty people have been killed in the violence, which erupted over concerns that Israel was planning major changes to the visiting rights for Palestinians to the sacred Al Aqsa compound, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews.

The majority of those killed so far are Palestinian, many of them carrying out knife attacks.

The Secretary-General left for his emergency diplomatic mission at the beginning of the week, and speaking to reporters on Friday, he said he'd been profoundly troubled by the violence and rhetoric on both sides:

 The level of incitement is utterly unacceptable.  It is critical for all parties to avoid provocative rhetoric and actions that can further inflame passions in an already overheated environment.

While in Jerusalem and the West Bank, he met Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Palestine's President Abbas. He urged both leaders to meet face-to-face as soon as possible, and said that the security tactics used by Israeli security forces in response to the wave of attacks, had been disproportionate.

Force should be a last resort, not a first resort. Security measures alone will not end the violence. Only by [restoring] a political horizon can we hope to overcome today's despair.

He said that via-video, he would be joining the so-called Quartet of Middle-East mediators on Friday, who are meeting in Vienna to discuss the deteriorating situation.

The meeting involves the US, Russia, European Union and the UN together with key Arab states.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’33″

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