AFP/ United Nations
Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians at a Jerusalem holy site could trigger violence elsewhere in the Middle East, a UN envoy warned Tuesday.
UN coordinator Nickolay Mladenov delivered the warning to the Security Council on the third straight day of violence at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
"As the Middle East faces a vicious tide of terror and extremism, such serious provocations have the potential to ignite violence well beyond the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem," Mladenov said.
The site of the mosque is the third-holiest in Islam but also venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.
The envoy called for restraint and said it was "imperative that the historic status quo is preserved," allowing access to Jews to visit, but not pray, at the site.
At the site on Tuesday, demonstrators threw stones at Israeli police who responded with stun grenades. Clashes also broke out in the Old City surrounding the compound.
The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, described the situation as "extremely dangerous" and accused "extremists on the Israeli side" of seeking to "impose a Jewish presence" at the site.
Mansour warned that such a move would lead to a religious confrontation that would have "ramifications in all corners of the Middle East and beyond."
"Religious confrontation is what ISIS is dreaming of," he told journalists, referring to the Islamic State group, which controls territory in Iraq and Syria.
Israel seized east Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, in the Six Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
The latest flare-up came amid little sign of momentum in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been comatose since a failed US diplomatic effort in April last year.
The United Nations is holding a meeting of the Middle East Quartet seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict on September 30, on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.
The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, along with the secretary general of the Arab League, will attend in a bid to broaden the search for a way back to the negotiating table.