Israeli PM Netanyahu pledges to ‘uphold status quo’ at contested Jerusalem mosque to ease tensions
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday restated a pledge to retain intact the custom of not permitting non-Muslim prayer at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, at the centre of a spike in unrest.
“Israel re-affirms its commitment to upholding unchanged the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practice,” he said in a statement, using the Jewish term for the site, sacred to both faiths.
“Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount,” he said, following up on comments earlier by US Secretary of State John Kerry after meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Kerry said Israel had agreed on steps to calm tensions over the flashpoint site, including 24-hour security cameras, an idea not mentioned in Netanyahu’s statement.
Tensions over Al-Aqsa have sparked a recent wave of violence that has seen knife and gun attacks against Israelis, as well as clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
The talks in Amman came as a Palestinian tried on Saturday to stab an Israeli security guard in the West Bank and was killed, according to police.
On Friday, more than 80 people were wounded in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Since the start of this month, 52 Palestinians and one Israeli Arab have died in clashes or while carrying out attacks, including a Palestinian who died Saturday of his injuries.
Eight Israelis have been killed in attacks. One Israeli Jew and one Eritrean have been killed after being mistaken for attackers.