United Nations meets Thursday to address ‘rapid deterioration’ in Mideast

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The United Nations General Assembly will meet Thursday as violence between Israel and the Palestinians continues to escalate in the Middle East, Reuters reported Monday, citing General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir.

Niger and Algeria, which chair the Organization for Islamic Cooperation group in New York, asked the 193 General Assembly member states to meet publicly “in light of the gravity of the situation and its rapid deterioration,” according to Reuters.

The U.N. Security Council, made up of 15 countries, gathered publicly for the first time Sunday amid the rising conflict between Israel and Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S., the wire service noted.

The council, according to Reuters, has not been able to release a public statement on the conflict because the U.S., which is strongly allied with Israel, is fearful that any formal communication may hurt behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

China, however, said on Sunday that it would again try to persuade the council to agree on a statement.

Violence between Israeli forces and Hamas has escalated in the past week. The tensions began with Israeli police action at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and were exacerbated by an impending, and since-postponed, Supreme Court hearing on a potential eviction order in a predominately Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. 

Hamas began firing rockets into Israel on May 10.

Gaza health officials, according to Reuters, said that 201 Palestinians have died in the conflict since it erupted last Monday, including 58 children and 34 women.

Ten people have died in Israel, including two children, the wire service noted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this weekend signaled that Israel’s strikes and military action would not cease immediately.

When asked by host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation” how much longer the hostilities are going to continue, Netanyahu said, “We hope that it doesn’t continue very long.”

“It’ll take some time, I hope it won’t take long but it’s not immediate,” he later added.

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