UN warns of Israel-Palestinian catastrophe as attacks persist

The United Nations has warned that a deadly surge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians is leading them toward "catastrophe" as new knife attacks struck the volatile West Bank.

Jerusalem: The United Nations has warned that a deadly surge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians is leading them toward "catastrophe" as new knife attacks struck the volatile West Bank.

An Israeli woman was moderately wounded in one such attack, while a Palestinian allegedly tried to stab an Israeli soldier and was shot dead in another, the police and army said yesterday.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the latest flare-up in the six-decade-old conflict was "dangerous in the extreme".

"The violence between Palestinians and the Israelis will draw us ever closer to a catastrophe if not stopped immediately," he said.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said the bloodshed "is yet another indication of the folly of believing that efforts at permanent peace and reconciliation are somehow not worth pursuing."

"The current situation is simply not sustainable over time."

World leaders desperately want to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that collapsed in April 2014, to avoid a deeper slide into violence that many fear could lead to a third Palestinian intifada.

But Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said "it is no longer useful to waste time in negotiations" and warned a continuation of the violence could "kill the last shred of hope for the two-state-solution-based peace."

He urged the UN "to set up a special regime for international protection for the Palestinian people."

Abbas accused Israel of "extrajudicial killings of defenceless Palestinian civilians, (and having) detained their corpses, including children."

Israel dismissed his comments.

"President Abbas chose once more the way of propaganda and incitement instead of the dialogue proposed by Israel," said the foreign ministry.

Withholding the bodies of assailants is one of a series of Israeli measures to try to dissuade attacks on Jews, which began in early October as tensions over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in annexed east Jerusalem boiled over.

Palestinians have long feared Israelis seek to change the rules governing the site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly denied seeking to allow Jews to pray at the compound, which they refer to as the Temple Mount. 

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