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Palestinians want UN protection force in East Jerusalem

'The situation warrants providing protection for our people in the occupied territory,' says Palestinian envoy to the UN
A Palestinian man argues with Israeli forces which barred men under 45 from Friday prayers inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on 9 October 2015 (AA)

The Palestinians want the United Nations to consider deploying a protection force in occupied East Jerusalem to help quell violence, the Palestinian envoy to the UN said on Wednesday.

The proposal would be included in a draft resolution aimed at defusing weeks of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians that are raising fears of an all-out Palestinian uprising.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters that the situation was "very explosive" and that the Security Council must find ways of "providing protection" to the Palestinians.

"The situation warrants providing protection for our people in the occupied territory starting in the Old City of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque," Mansour told reporters.

There were repeated clashes at East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in September between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths.

Arab ambassadors are due to meet at the UN on Thursday to discuss calls for an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the worsening violence.

Mansour said the Arab countries were weighing a possible draft resolution that demands a withdrawal of Israeli security forces from flashpoint areas and calls for the deployment of the protection force at Al-Aqsa, a holy place for both Muslims and Jews who refer to the site as Temple Mount.

"We believe that some form of observers or international force (should) be placed there in order to guarantee that the status quo will be continued and to protect the Palestinian worshippers," said Mansour.

Prospects for such a measure, however, were uncertain. The US has condemned attacks on Israeli civilians and called for a return to calm.

The Palestinian envoy said the UN office of legal affairs had produced a 44-page report detailing options for the protection of Palestinians, but that the Security Council had yet to consult it.

Israel set up checkpoints on Wednesday in Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and mobilised hundreds of soldiers.

Mansour called the checkpoints "collective punishment" and said 30 Palestinians have been killed in the recent violence, including seven children.

Ban has urged Israel to carry out a "serious review" of whether its security forces are resorting to excessive force in clashes with Palestinians.

Emergency Security Council meeting called

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss an upsurge of violence.

The urgent talks were requested by council member Jordan following a meeting on Thursday of Arab ambassadors who expressed alarm at the escalating situation.

Israeli security forces deployed massively in Jerusalem Thursday as Jews armed themselves with everything from guns to broomsticks.

The uptick in violence has raised fears that a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, might erupt.

The Security Council meeting is scheduled for Friday at 11:00 am (1500 GMT).

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