The “vicious circle” of Israeli-Palestinian violence will only serve to damage efforts for reaching a “lasting, definitive and comprehensive solution” to the decades-old conflict, said Egypt’s foreign ministry on Wednesday.
The ministry’s comments come the day after five Israelis were killed in a brutal attack at a West Jerusalem synagogue, carried out by two Palestinians from East Jerusalem. Early reports mentioned four deaths, but the toll increased to five after 30 year-old police officer Ziad Saif died as a result of his wounds sustained at the synagogue on Tuesday.
Egypt expressed “extreme mounting concern over recent developments in East Jerusalem” and “renewed its rejection of all forms of violence and all provocative actions”.
In the aftermath of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the two attackers. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed the attackers Ghassan and Uday Abu Gamal, both members of the group’s armed wing.
The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed on Wednesday the demolition of the house of a man who killed two Israelis at the end of October.
Amnesty International and other groups have condemned the practice of demolishing homes as “collective punishment”.
Speaking in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu placed the blame for the attack on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, accusing them of “disseminating countless lies and falsehoods against the State of Israel”.
He referred to statements made by both groups regarding the holy site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is also site of great religious importance for Jews, known as the Temple Mount. The issue of the holy site in Jerusalem has been the source of increased tensions.
Netanyahu said it was “good” that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack. However, he added: “It is not enough because in the same sentence in which he condemned today’s slaughter, he linked it to imaginary actions – which have no basis in reality – that Israel is supposedly planning to carry out on the Temple Mount.”
Hamas said the attack was in response to the death of a Palestinian bus driver who was found hanged in Jerusalem on Sunday night, for which they suspect foul play. An Israeli health ministry statement released on Tuesday said: “The findings of the autopsy indicate self-hanging.”
Netanyahu stressed this point in on Tuesday evening, adding: “This has not prevented those same elements from inciting and disseminating the blood libel to the effect that he was murdered by Jews.”
He added that this view “contributed its part to the shocking slaughter”.
Egypt stressed the need to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians “based on international legitimacy resolutions and achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and ensures the preservation of the Arab identity of the city of East Jerusalem”. This comes with the eventual goal of the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.