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Israel to take steps to calm holy site unrest: Kerry

RIYADH: US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that Israel has agreed on steps to calm tensions over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, at the centre of Palestinian unrest, including 24-hour security cameras. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to announce details of the measures, Kerry said after meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II...

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 25, 2015 | Last Updated: 5 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Oct 25, 2015 | Last Updated: 5 years ago
Israel to take steps to calm holy site unrest: Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia (R) in Diriyah Farm, Saudi Arabia, on October 24, 2015. -AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia (R) in Diriyah Farm, Saudi Arabia, on October 24, 2015. -AFP

RIYADH: US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that Israel has agreed on steps to calm tensions over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, at the centre of Palestinian unrest, including 24-hour security cameras.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to announce details of the measures, Kerry said after meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.

He said Netanyahu had agreed to “an excellent suggestion by King Abdullah”, custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, “to provide 24-hour video coverage of all sites” in the compound, which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

“This will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency and that could really be a game changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity of the holy site,” he said.

Kerry, who met Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, also said the Israeli leader had “reaffirmed Israel’s commitment” to upholding the status quo at the mosque compound under which Jews are allowed to visit but not pray.

From Amman, the secretary of state travelled on to Riyadh for a meeting with Saudi King Salman expected to focus on the Syrian conflict.

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.

Netanyahu has repeatedly accused Abbas of fanning the flames by suggesting Israel wants to change the status quo at the Al-Aqsa site, which Jews refer to as Temple Mount.

The international community is seeking a halt to a wave of violence that many fear heralds a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

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.

Kerry, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon — members of the Middle East peacemaking Quartet — appealed for “maximum restraint” after talks on Friday in Vienna.

They also issued a call for Israel to work with Jordan as steward of the Al-Aqsa compound.

‘Day of rage’

In the latest violence, a Palestinian tried to stab a private security guard at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank and was shot dead, police said.

“A terrorist, who arrived armed with a knife, tried to stab a security guard at the site. In response, the terrorist was shot by the security force at the scene and killed,” a police statement said.

Police said the alleged attacker arrived from the Palestinian side of the Al-Jalama checkpoint between the northern West Bank and Israel.

Earlier, an Israeli told police he had fought off an attempted knife attack near the Old City in annexed east Jerusalem. The alleged assailant fled.

In Tel Aviv, thousands of Israelis rallied for peace with the Palestinians, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish rightwing extremist.

The demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs don’t want to hate each other” and “Israel, Palestine, two states for two peoples”.

Dov Kredo, 60, a protester who came from Galilee in northern Israel, said he feels “very pessimistic” about the current situation.

“It is much easier for people to answer the call of fear and hatred,” he said. – AFP

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