The Latest: Abbas says ties with Israel remain suspended
Jul. 25, 2017
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the escalation in Israel and the Palestinian territories over a contested Jerusalem holy site (all times local):
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will continue to suspend security coordination with Israel until it returns the situation at a major Jerusalem shrine to how it was before the crisis over security measures there.
Abbas told Palestinian leaders in Ramallah Tuesday there will be no change unless Israel restores arrangements at the shrine to what they were before July 14.
He was referring to the day Arab gunmen opened fire from the shrine killing two police officers.
Israel has said freezing security cooperation serves Abbas' political needs but mainly harms Palestinian interests.
Israel set up metal detectors outside the site following the shooting.
The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.
Israel removed the devices early Tuesday after talks with Jordan but Islamic leaders have called on the faithful to continue praying outside the site in protest.
Israel has dismissed remarks by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he accused the country of taking over holy sites in Jerusalem from Muslims.
Israel's Foreign Ministry called Erdogan's remarks "delusional, baseless and distorted." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said "Erdogan is the last one who can preach to Israel."
The statements Tuesday came after Erdogan told legislators in parliament that Israel "is using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to take al-Aqsa Mosque from the hands of Muslims."
Israel had installed metal detectors outside the Jerusalem shrine, holy to both Muslims and Jews, in response to an Arab shooting attack there that killed two police officers.
It removed the devices following a wave of Muslim outrage. It said they will be replaced with "advanced technology," believed to be high resolution cameras.
Palestinians claim Israel is trying to cement control over the site. Israel emphatically denies the claims insisting the security measures are in order to prevent further attacks.
Thousands of Muslim worshippers are gathering outside an entrance to a major Jerusalem holy site for evening prayers after Islamic leaders called on them not to enter the shrine even after Israel removed the metal detectors that angered them.
Muslims are preparing to worship Tuesday evening near the site where prayers have been held on the streets in protest since the crisis over security measures there erupted over a week ago.
Israel removed the metal detectors earlier in the day.
Muslim religious leaders have called for prayers to continue outside until all measures are lifted. They demand the delicate arrangements at the site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, return to what they were before Israel installed the metal detectors earlier this month after Arab gunmen shot and killed two police officers from within the site.
Palestinians allege Israel is cementing control over the site with the security measures. Israel denies the claim insisting they are to prevent further attacks.
The Palestinian U.N. ambassador is blaming Israel's "illegal actions" in East Jerusalem and violations of the status quo at the city's holy sites for stoking a religious conflict that is at "the point of eruption."
Riyad Mansour told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that "we are clearly at the tippling point" as a result of escalating tensions and instability, and Israel's "aggressive behavior."
He said East Jerusalem "is a city besieged from within and without by military checkpoints, occupation forces, settlements, armed and violent settlers." The Palestinian people are resisting the "provocative measures" by praying in the streets, he said.
Mansour said "a clear, unified message must be conveyed to Israel to cease and reverse all such illegal actions" and to end "incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, including by government officials." He cited a statement by Israel's public security minister saying Israel holds sovereignty over the holy sites, which is an issue to be decided in peace negotiations.
Mansour said "de-escalation is urgent" and he appealed for the continuation of all efforts to restore the 1967 status quo at the Al Aqsa mosque compound and achieve calm.
He said "this requires the lifting of all measures in violation of the historic status quo, including any hindrances or obstructions violating the access by Palestinians to this holy site and their freedom of worship."
The U.N. Mideast envoy is warning that the crisis at the holy sites in Jerusalem has demonstrated the dangerous risk of turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious conflict "and dragging both sides into the vortex of violence with the rest of the region."
Nikolay Mladenov also warned the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that the risks of escalation and violence in the Middle East "continue to increase, despite the emergence of a newfound agreement among a number of countries of the need to stand united against terrorism and radicalism."
He said the Jerusalem crisis is resonating across the region as societies continue to fracture "along ethnic or religious lines" and extremist and opposition groups "continue to control large territories."
Mladenov welcomed Israel's decision to remove metal detectors from Jerusalem's holy sites — a key catalyst in the crisis — and expressed hope this will lead to "a calming of the current tensions" and allow Muslim worshippers to return.
They have been urged to keep up their prayer protest by Muslim leaders.
Mladenov said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to convene the Palestinian leadership Tuesday night to discuss the latest developments.
The U.N. envoy said it's vital to preserve the 1967 status quo at the holy sites while security is maintained for worshippers and visitors — and he urged all parties to show restraint, stop provocative actions, and end the crisis in the next few days.
Jordan's foreign minister says there was no deal with Israel linking the release of an embassy guard involved in a deadly shooting in Amman and the removal of metal detectors outside a Jerusalem shrine.
Ayman Safadi said Tuesday "I made it very clear that there's no bargain here."
He said the incident where the Israeli guard shot and killed two Jordanians after one of them attacked him with a screwdriver is "a criminal case."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has also said there was no connection between the two issues.
There is widespread anger in Jordan over the shooting, given the unpopularity of its peace deal with Israel.
The Israeli guard was released Monday night after a diplomatic standoff ended with a phone call between Jordan's King Abdullah II and Netanyahu.
A few hours later Israel removed metal detectors outside the entrance to the Jerusalem shrine holy to both Muslims and Jews, installed after a deadly Arab shooting there, which sparked widespread Muslim protests.
Jordan, the Muslim custodian of the shrine, has played a key role in trying to end the crisis at the holy site.
Israel's police says cameras at a major Jerusalem shrine are strictly to ensure security and do not threaten personal privacy.
Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld issued the statement Tuesday to address Palestinian rumors that new cameras could see through clothing and would prove especially embarrassing for women.
He said "Israel Police does not use any type of camera that harms privacy in any way and has no intention of using such cameras in the future."
Earlier Tuesday Israel dismantled metal detectors it installed a week earlier at the gates of the Jerusalem shrine, holy to both Muslims and Jews, following widespread Muslim protests.
Israel's security Cabinet said it would replace the metal detectors with "advanced technologies," reportedly cameras that can detect hidden objects like weapons and explosives, but said this could take up to six months.
Israel had installed the metal detectors in response to an Arab attack that killed two Israeli police officers guarding the Muslim-administered holy site.
Jordan's foreign minister says the kingdom wants the situation at a major Jerusalem shrine returned to the way it was before the recent crisis over security measures there.
Hala Akhbar, a news site linked to the country military, quoted Ayman Safadi Tuesday saying Jordan's King Abdullah II had shown leadership in the crisis "to preserve the status quo, and revoke all the new measures on the ground."
Safadi did not mention the new Israeli proposal at the site and it is unclear what Jordan's position is on the issue.
Jordan, the Muslim custodian of the shrine, has played a key role in trying to end the crisis at the holy site, sacred to Muslims and Jews.
Israel set up metal detectors outside the holy compound after Arab gunmen killed Israeli policemen there. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence. Israel removed the devices early Tuesday after talks with Jordan.
Israel said new security arrangements based on "advanced technology" will be installed.
Muslim leaders urged worshippers to continue protesting the Israeli measures even after the metal detectors were removed.
Hundreds of mourners have attended the funeral of a 16-year-old Jordanian who was killed after an altercation with a guard at the Israeli Embassy in the kingdom.
The incident led to a 24-hour diplomatic standoff between Jordan and Israel, at a time when the two countries were also trying to defuse a crisis over a Jerusalem shrine, home to the Al Aqsa Mosque. Jordan is the Muslim custodian of the site that is also holy to Jews.
The teen, Mohammed Jawawdeh, was killed on Sunday after he argued with the Israeli. Jordanian police said the teen attacked the guard with a screwdriver during a furniture delivery, and that the Israeli opened fire, killing Jawawdeh and a bystander.
Mourners portrayed the teen as a "martyr" who died for Muslim rights at the Jerusalem shrine.
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to take over holy sites in Jerusalem from Muslims.
Erdogan spoke to his party's legislators in parliament on Tuesday and called on all Muslims to defend the holy sites by visiting Jerusalem at every occasion or by sending aid to Muslims there.
Erdogan welcomed a decision by Israel to remove metal detectors at the Jerusalem shrine, but said Turkey would not accept measures that treat Muslims wanting to pray as "terrorists."
He says that "what is being done now is using the fight against terrorism as a pretext to take al-Aqsa Mosque from the hands of Muslims. There is no other explanation."
Dozens of Muslims have prayed in the street outside a major Jerusalem shrine, heeding a call by clerics not to enter the site until a dispute with Israel over security arrangements is settled.
This came after Israel removed metal detectors earlier on Tuesday from the walled compound that is holy to Muslims and Jews. Israel said it would introduce new security arrangements over six months, reportedly including sophisticated cameras.
The removal of the detectors was meant to end more than a week of Muslim protests, including mass street prayers. Muslim leaders have alleged the detectors, installed after a deadly shooting at the shrine, encroached on Muslim rights — a claim Israel denies.
A senior cleric urged worshippers on Tuesday to stay out of the shrine pending a review of Israel's new arrangements.
Israel's prime minister is praising an Israeli security guard for acting "calmly" after being attacked near the Israeli Embassy in Jordan.
Benjamin Netanyahu met the guard on Tuesday after he returned to Israel following intense negotiations. Jordan initially said he could leave only after an investigation while Israel insisted he had diplomatic immunity.
Netanyahu told the guard, identified only by his first name, Ziv, that there was never a question about bringing his home.
He says that "it was only a question of time and I am pleased that it was short."
The guard opened fire after he was attacked with a screwdriver, killing his attacker and another bystander. He says "a weight has been lifted from my heart" and thanked the Israeli government for bringing him home.
An acrimonious session of Jordan's parliament was cut short after lawmakers walked out in protest over the government's handling of a deadly shooting at the Israeli Embassy in the kingdom.
Interior Minister Ghaleb al-Zoabi presented the initial findings to lawmakers on Tuesday, saying an Israeli security guard opened fire, killing two Jordanians, after one of them attacked him with a screwdriver.
He said Sunday's shooting took place during a furniture delivery to a building linked to the embassy, meaning the incident was covered by diplomatic immunity rules.
Initially, Jordan had refused to let the guard leave without an investigation, but he and all other embassy staff returned to Israel on Monday.
The legislators' walkout reflected widespread anger in Jordan over the shooting, and the unpopularity of its peace deal with Israel.
The American ambassador to Israel says the speedy resolution of a diplomatic crisis with Jordan proves how closely Israel works with the Trump administration.
David Friedman told Israeli lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday that the standoff over a deadly shooting near the Israeli Embassy in Jordan could "have gone very bad" without the American intervention.
Trump's Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday in the administration's first high-level, on-the-ground engagement in the crisis.
Friedman said "we were able to diffuse the situation very quickly that under other circumstances could not have ended as successfully."
The Israeli security guard involved in the shooting returned home late Monday after intense negotiations. Jordan initially said he could leave only after an investigation while Israel insisted he had diplomatic immunity.
A senior cleric says Muslims should stay away from a major Jerusalem shrine, pending a review of the new Israeli security arrangements there.
Ikrema Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Committee in the city, said such a review might be completed later on Tuesday.
Muslim worshippers have stayed away from the sacred compound since Israel installed metal detectors there last week. Instead, they performed mass prayer protests outside the shrine, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews.
Earlier Tuesday, Israel's security Cabinet said it would replace the metal detectors with "advanced technologies," reportedly cameras that can detect hidden objects, but said this could take up to six months.
Sabri told The Associated Press that "our position is that for now, nobody should enter" the shrine.
An Israeli security Cabinet minister says the decision to remove metal detectors from a contested Jerusalem shrine corrected the mistake of placing them there in the first place.
Yoav Galant was the lone Cabinet member to vote against the original decision to upgrade security measures at the site after Arab attackers opened fire from it earlier this month, killing two Israeli policemen.
He acknowledged that as a member of the Cabinet he bore "collective responsibility" for the initial decision.
He told Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday that the removal marks a "fixing of a previous mistake."
Israel has defended the metal detectors as a necessary security measure to prevent further attacks. Muslims claimed Israel's real goal was to expand control at the site and subsequently launched mass protests.
Israel has begun dismantling metal detectors it installed a week earlier at the gates of a contested Jerusalem shrine following widespread Muslim protests.
The removal is meant to defuse escalating tensions between Israel and the Muslim world, including key security ally Jordan. The kingdom is the Muslim custodian of the shrine that is also holy to Jews.
It remains unclear if Muslim religious leaders will accept a decision by Israel's security Cabinet early on Tuesday to replace the metal detectors with "sophisticated technology," reportedly cameras that can detect hidden objects.
Israel installed the metal detectors in response to an Arab attack that killed two Israeli police guards at the Muslim-administered holy site.
Muslims alleged Israel was expanding control at the site under the guise of security. Israel has denied this.