JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. Consulate has banned its personnel from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem due to fears of violence.
In an emergency message sent to Americans registered with the consulate who are visiting or living in Israel, the consulate also urged U.S. citizens to avoid "areas of traditional conflict during this time."
The letter, dated Sept. 21, said that the consulate would prohibit its official mission personnel from visiting the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday.
"This prohibition is due to the potential for demonstrations and large gatherings inside the Old City that day," the letter says.
While it does not specify why there is this potential, it is likely because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on that day is due to speak before the United Nations General Assembly and present a request to make Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations to the U.N. Security Council.
"The U.S. Consulate General reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful marches and demonstrations can turn violent with little or no warning," the letter warns.
"U.S. citizens in Jerusalem are encouraged to exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security, and to report any suspicious or unusual activity immediately to Israeli authorities. U.S. citizens should, as always, maintain a low profile in public."