Israel ′playing with fire′ with Palestinians in Jerusalem′s Temple Mount, warns Arab League | News | DW | 23.07.2017
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Israel 'playing with fire' with Palestinians in Jerusalem's Temple Mount, warns Arab League

Tensions in the West Bank have flared enormously with deaths on both sides of the conflict. Israel has now appeared to offer some concessions over contentious security precautions that led to bloody violence.

Watch video 01:09

Palestinan President freezes contact with Israel

The Arab League warned Israel on Sunday that it was "playing with fire" in Jerusalem and said it would convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday over increasing Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Tensions ratcheted up even further in the occupied West Bank at the weekend after three Palestinians were killed and at least 400 wounded in some of the worst street violence in years. Elsewhere, a Palestinian man murdered three members of an Israeli family celebrating a new grandchild.

Read more: UN Security Council to meet over escalating Israel-Palestinian conflict

The flare-up came after Israel installed metal detectors and turnstiles at the entry points of the holy Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's walled Old City, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Palestinians see the measures as a means for Israel to assert further control over the site.

"Jerusalem is a red line that Muslims and Arabs cannot allow to be crossed, ... and what is happening today is an attempt to impose a new reality on the Holy city," Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.

"The Israeli government is playing with fire and risking a major crisis with the Arab and Islamic world."

Read more: What is Jerusalem's contentious holy site Temple Mount?

Security cameras as a concession

After sending in reinforcement troops on Saturday and putting soldiers on high alert, Israel appeared to offer concessions over the divisive metal detectors.

Major General Yoav Mordechai, who heads the Israeli defense body for Palestinian civilian affairs, said on Sunday that Israel was open to alternatives to lower the tensions.

"The only thing we want is to ensure no one can enter with weapons again and carry out another attack," he said, referring to the July 14 incident in which three Arab Israelis armed with automatic rifles and a knife launched an attack from the flashpoint holy site and shot dead two nearby police officers.

"We're willing to examine alternatives to the metal detectors as long as the solution of [said] alternative ensures the prevention of the next attack."

New security cameras were installed at the site on Sunday, which could replace the metal detectors.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held cabinet discussions on Sunday to discuss the situation and said he would act according to recommendations. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the metal detectors would stay in place unless police offered a satisfactory alternative.

Abbas demands complete reversal

A top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was holding consultations with various countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, about the crisis.

Abbas announced Friday he would "freeze" ties with Israel "on all levels" until the new security measures Israel imposed at the Jerusalem site were removed.

Abbas confirmed on Sunday that his decision to freeze ties also included a suspension of security coordination, in which Abbas-loyal troops coordinate with Israeli troops against their common foe Hamas. Ending those ties, which have been constant amid previous hostilities in the Palestinian territories, could quickly escalate tensions.

Read more: Abbas freezes Israeli relations as Temple Mount protests turn deadly

The top Muslim cleric of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, told the Voice of Palestine radio station that he demands a complete return to procedures that were in place before the initial attack at the shrine.

The conflict showed no signs of easing on Sunday. Israeli security forces said they arrested 25 members of the militant Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip, including "senior members."

And unknown people fired a rocket at Israel from Gaza, hitting an open area, the Israeli Army said.

Meanwhile various international figures weighed in on the violence.

Erdogan and the pope weigh in

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel's security precautions at the site, before he departed for a visit to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

"No one can expect the Islamic world to remain unresponsive after the humiliation Muslims suffered with the restrictions at the Noble Sanctuary."

Pope Francis said on Sunday he was alarmed by the violence and called for dialogue and moderation to help restore peace.

"I am following with trepidation the grave tension and violence of recent days in Jerusalem. I feel the need to express a heartfelt call for moderation and dialogue," the pope told pilgrims gathered under blazing sunshine in St Peter's Square.

The United Nations Security Council announced on Saturday it would meet on Monday to discuss the situation after Sweden, Egypt and France urgently requested the meeting.

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aw/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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