Amid U.N. leader's appeals, Israeli-Palestinian tensions and arrests continue

Violence in the Mideast
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Story highlights

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames Palestinian leader for "incitement"
  • Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas slams ISIS comparisons, asks world to protect Palestinians
  • U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon visits West Bank, urges all sides to show "courage" to reach a peaceful solution

(CNN)Two stops, to meet two leaders sharply at odds, over two days.

But will any good, or any change, come out of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's visits this week to Israel and the West Bank?
    That question lingered Wednesday, even after the United Nations leader met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Just as he did a day earlier upon meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ban talked about the importance of both sides' calming their rhetoric and moving away from the violence that has marred the last few weeks, and moving toward negotiations.
    "I would like to encourage both the Israelis and Palestinians, equally, to show some courage and to get back to a political, peaceful solution," he told reporters. "And we are encouraging all efforts ... to avoid any further (violence and destruction)."
    As has been proven time and again in this volatile part of the world, talk about peace is one thing; actually attaining it over the long term is quite another.
    Netanyahu hardly appeared conciliatory Wednesday, when he said, "Palestinian terrorists have tried to murder Israelis with knives, with axes, with guns, even with cars" in over 40 incidents in recent weeks.
    As in the past, he blamed Abbas for the violence -- claiming he's wrongly stoked fears Israeli officials would alter the status quo at a site in Jerusalem sacred to Jews (as the Temple Mount) and Muslims (as al-Aqsa Mosque, or the Noble Sanctuary) and slamming him for not denouncing the attacks that have taken place.
    "If we want to have peace, we have to stop terror. And to stop terror, we have to stop incitement," Netanyahu said from Berlin, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "And I think it's important that the international community demand of President Abbas to stop the incitement and to stop spreading ... lies about the Jewish state and about Israel's policies."
    The roots of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians
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    On Wednesday, Abbas took exception to one Netanyahu comment in particular -- equating him and other Palestinian leaders to ISIS, known as Daesh in Arabic, for stirring up terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.
    "We are against Daesh, and against al Qaeda, and against terrorists all over the world," he said, before adding a dig that Palestinian leaders are also against Jewish settlers in the West Bank. "And I would like to ask Mr. Netanyahu, 'Where is Daesh (in the Palestinian territories)? Where do they live?'"
    "... And despite all that, he calls us Daesh. We are people who are asking for peace."

    'We've asked ... the world to come and protect us'

    In his remarks Wednesday, Abbas reiterated his push to have international forces help keep the peace in the region -- something that Netanyahu has resisted. Protecting "the Palestinian people ... is our responsibility," he said, "but we cannot, in (light) of this operation .... by the Israeli army and the settlers against civilian citizens and (using) live ammunition."
    "That's why we've asked the United Nations for international protection, which is a legitimate request," Abbas said. "That's why we've asked ... the world to come and protect us."
    Netanyahu: Abbas 'fanning the flames' of unrest
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    At least 45 Palestinians have been killed in recent weeks by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. About 1,850 others have been wounded by live ammunition, rubber bullets and beatings, it said.
    Many of these casualties have come during persistent clashes with Israeli forces in Palestinian areas. Others have been killed or injured after stabbing, shooting or otherwise attacking Israelis.
    Unlike past outbursts of violence, this wave hasn't been obviously coordinated or driven by one or another established militant group. Rather, Palestinian attackers -- who have lashed out alone, generally -- may have been motivated by what they saw on Facebook and Twitter, where photos and video of attacks are posted.
    Ban on Wednesday acknowledged "the depression which people are feeling," which is in line with what he's said before.
    "I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times. You are angry at the continued occupation and expansion of settlements," the U.N. leader said earlier. "Many of you are disappointed in your leaders and in us, the international community, because of our inability to end this occupation."
    Still, that doesn't mean violence is the answer, he said, urging young Palestinians to "put down the weapons of despair" and push for a political solution.

    Report: 70 Palestinians detained in October

    Netanyahu has said that he's open to direct talks with Abbas, just not under terms that the Palestinian leader wants.
    In the meantime, the Israeli leader is taking action -- insisting that he has no other choice, what with his citizens worried that someone could attack anytime they board a bus or head out on the street.
    This includes measures like restricting access to some Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem and approving the demolition of homes of Palestinian attackers. The Israeli military has been on guard, as evidenced by its shooting of a number of people in recent days who have tried to stab soldiers.
    And there have been widespread arrests as well. WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency reported -- citing local and security sources -- that Israeli forces detained at least 53 Palestinians before dawn Wednesday.
    This figure includes at least 20 in and around Hebron, 10 in Jerusalem, five around Nablus and several others in various West Bank towns. It means, according to WAFA, that at least 70 Palestinians have been detained in October.
    The most high-profile instance came Tuesday with the arrest of Hassan Yousef, a leader of Hamas.
    The Israel Defense Forces did not link Yousef directly to any of the recent attacks against Israelis, but accused him of "actively instigating terrorism and publicly encouraging and praising the execution of attacks against Israelis."
    "When you encourage, promote and praise the death of the innocent, the IDF will act swiftly in order to contain the hateful incitement that jeopardizes the safety and well-being of so many Israelis and Palestinians alike," IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement.