The United Nations has voiced its shock following the burning of a mosque in the West Bank that is suspected to be an act of arson.
According to media reports, the incident took place early this morning in the village of Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem.
The attack, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) said, is completely unacceptable, with Special Coordinator Robert Serry also extremely concerned over the mosque's desecration.
It follows several recent attacks on mosques as well as on Palestinian civilians and property, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.
UNSCO reminded the Israeli Government that the extremists responsible for such attacks must be brought to justice and the rule of law upheld.
The's attack on 4 October 2010 came as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was urging the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to continue their efforts to find a way forward in their direct talks to resolve the long-running Middle East conflict.
Ban spoke with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas and the United States Envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell at the end of last week, as part of his efforts to promote peace in the region.
The discussions focused on the current status of the direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, which resumed last month under US auspices after a hiatus of 19 months.
He encouraged Netanyahu and Abbas to find a way forward, reiterating his belief that negotiations are the only way for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve all final status issues and realize their aspirations.
The Secretary-General also renewed his hope that the Israeli Government would extend its settlement restraint policy and he underscored the need to create a conducive environment for the negotiations to be successful.
In a related development, evolving regional affairs and the dangers of terrorism topped talks between the heads of the three UN peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Israeli Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Monday.
Top officials from the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) attended today's meeting at Mr. Peres' residence.
The President expressed his gratitude for the work of blue helmets, while the heads of the three missions said they are honoured to serve the cause of peace in the Middle East.
UN News Service: http://www.un.org/News/