BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The leaders of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia issued a joint statement on Sunday night calling for an end to violence targeting Palestinian civilians, after Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip entered a second week.

More than 150 people have been killed and over 2,000 Palestinians have been left homeless since Israel began bombing Gaza on May 10, following weeks of protests in East Jerusalem. Ten Israelis have also been killed by Hamas rockets fired into southern Israel.

“We condemn in the strongest term the repeated blatant violations and aggressions, carried out by the Israelis, targeting civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which has killed, injured and caused suffering to many, including women and children,” the statement read.

“We call upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint, cease attacks against civilians, to take steps in de-escalating the situation and to uphold international law and order.”

The statement — signed off on by Brunei monarch Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah; Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Indonesia President Joko Widodo — urged both parties to accept a temporary international presence in Jerusalem to monitor the cessation of hostilities.

Tensions had been mounting between Palestinians and Israeli security forces during Ramadhan, with protests surrounding the planned expulsion of dozens of Arab families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem which has been the recent target of Israeli policy to displace Palestinians from their homes in the ancient city.

Violence broke out on May 7 after Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque, a key site in the protests, firing rubber bullets and throwing stun grenades at worshippers, injuring more than 300.

“We are gravely concerned with the illegal expansion of settlements; and the demolitions and seizures of Palestinian‑owned structures across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the leaders said.

“We also unreservedly condemn the flagrant violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, perpetrated by Israel, the Occupying Power, through its inhumane, colonial and apartheid policies towards the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Palestinians react as Israeli police fire stun grenades during clashes at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, amid tension over the possible expulsion of several Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 7, 2021. Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters

The three ASEAN leaders — who head the bloc’s three Muslim-majority countries — called for an emergency session of the UN General Assembly to address developments and come up with a “Uniting for Peace Resolution” with a view to “putting an end to the atrocities carried out against the Palestinian people”.

So far, the United States has blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a resolution condemning Israel’s military response and calling for a ceasefire, saying that Israel has a “right to self-defence”.

The leaders of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia said the Security Council has a “special responsibility” to call for a cessation of all violence in order to fulfil its obligation of upholding international peace.

“We reiterate our solidarity with, and commitment to the Palestinian people, including their rights to self-determination, and the creation of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.”

They added, “We call upon the international community to remain resolute in their commitment to safeguarding the ‘two-state solution’ towards achieving an independent State of Palestine, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“We stand ready to support international efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations Resolutions and international law, including humanitarian law.”