NYC Mayor Visits Israel at "Painful Moment" - NBC New York

NYC Mayor Visits Israel at "Painful Moment"

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    NYC Mayor Visits Israel at "Painful Moment"

    New York City's mayor kicked off a brief visit to Israel on Saturday, saying he was on a solidarity mission to the country at a "painful moment" after weeks of violence. (Published Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015)

    New York City's mayor kicked off a brief visit to Israel on Saturday, saying he was on a solidarity mission to the country at a "painful moment" after weeks of violence.

    De Blasio is in the country amid a month-long spate of unrest that has left eight Israelis and 40 Palestinians dead. On Saturday, Israel reported five stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Four of the assailants were killed.

    "It's a painful moment here in Israel, it's a moment when I am certainly here in solidarity with the people of Israel," de Blasio said during a visit with students from a mixed Israeli-Palestinian school. "This has to stop obviously. Look, these are attacks on civilians ... No one should be condoning attacks against civilians."

    De Blasio met Saturday with his Tel Aviv counterpart, Ron Huldai, in the seaside city before attending an event in the central town of Beit Shemesh sponsored by the school, Hand in Hand. The Jerusalem school, which was targeted by Jewish arsonists last year, is a rare symbol of coexistence in Jerusalem.

    Later in the day, de Blasio met Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and visited Israeli stabbing victims in a hospital.

    A trip to Israel is a staple for New York mayors, who represent a large Jewish constituency. This is de Blasio's first visit as mayor, his fourth overall.

    Aides said de Blasio considered a trip to the West Bank, but it was scuttled because of security concerns. He was not scheduled to meet with any Palestinian leaders.

    "I don't want to pretend to understand the nuances of the situation," he said. "I think it is important as an outsider to not claim to know more than I do. I think this is a larger human reality that peace is necessary."

    The current wave of Israeli-Palestinian unrest began last month with clashes at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site and quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza.

    A series of attacks, mostly stabbings, have unnerved Israel, which has responded by beefing up security nationwide and imposing checkpoints in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Palestinians say the unrest is the result of years of occupation and failed hopes for gaining independence.

    Eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. In that time, 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 19 labeled by Israel as attackers, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops.
     

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