Palestinians keep freeze on Israel contacts over holy site: Abbas

Elias Hubbard
July 28, 2017

Metal detectors were installed at entry points to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem after two police officers were shot dead on 14 July, triggering the bloodiest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

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Tensions erupted in the occupied territories on July 14, when a deadly shooting took place outside Al-Aqsa compound.

The spasm of violence began on Friday, when Israeli security forces shot three demonstrators dead, Palestinian medics said.

The detectors were put up at the entrances Muslims use to enter the compound each day for prayers.

The security measures incensed many Muslim worshippers, who had to pass through the metal detectors in order to pray there.

The controversial metal detectors were removed by Israeli security forces early Tuesday morning.

The Qatar-based network was not immediately available for comment.

"This movement is a movement of the street", said Sheikh Raed Dana of the Islamic Waqf organisation, which administers the holy compound. "But worshippers are still praying outside the holy site and refusing to enter".

The site is a source of tension between the city's Palestinian residents and several hundred Israeli settlers who live in central Hebron under heavy military guard. "Everyone should be guard against provocations at this sensitive time", the Turkish president said in a written statement.

"For 12 days no one has slept, no one has done anything except the Al-Aqsa mosque", Firas Abasi told AFP. "Come, let's all protect Jerusalem". A senior Israeli official said the Foreign Ministry was opposed to the call taking place, and even passed on a negative assessment of it earlier in the day.

In recent years, Abbas has often deferred to Jordan on matters concerning the shrine, banking on the kingdom's greater leverage in dealing with Israel.

The 37-acre esplanade, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, has been a lightning rod for rival religious and national narratives of the two sides.

Greenblatt met Netanyahu along with United States envoy to Israel David Friedman Monday, an Israeli official told AFP.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said this while briefing media after U.N. Security Council meeting behind closed doors.

He arrived back in Israel late Monday along with the rest of the embassy staff, a statement from Netanyahu's office said, but details of how we was able to return were not given. It said they were a necessary measure to prevent more attacks and were deployed routinely at holy sites around the world.

Friday's main weekly Muslim prayers - which typically draw thousands to Al-Aqsa - brought the situation to a boil.

A Palestinian also broke into a home in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last week and stabbed four Israelis, killing three.

Because Christians only make up 2-3 percent of the overall population, they are particularly vulnerable under the ongoing instability and violence, he continued, but "Christians are determined to struggle for full integration in their society, whether Palestinian or Israeli, demanding equal rights and mutual respect".

It is in east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognised by the global community.

Over the past week, Jordan was heavily involved in trying to defuse an escalating crisis between Israel and the Muslim world over metal detectors installed at the shrine.

Under an agreement negotiated by the head of Israel's domestic security service, who had been sent to Amman to negotiate, Israel agreed that Jordanian police could hear the guard's description of the incident in the presence of Israeli diplomats.

A second Jordanian was also killed, apparently by accident.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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