The Latest: Israel begins removing metal detectors from site
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):
Israel's security cabinet has decided to remove metal detectors set up at the entrance to a Jerusalem holy site which had angered Muslims.
It announced early Tuesday that "sophisticated technology" will be used instead of the devices. It did not elaborate on when the metal detectors would be removed or what would replace them. Israeli media earlier reported high resolution cameras capable of detecting hidden objects would be the alternative.
It said Israel would boost forces in the area until the plan is implemented.
Earlier Associated Press footage showed heavy machinery and workers heading to the entrance of the site.
Israel erected the metal detectors after Arab gunmen killed two policemen from inside the shrine, holy to Muslims and Jews, earlier this month. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.
Associated Press footage shows heavy machinery and workers heading to the entrance to a major Jerusalem holy site as a compromise to defuse the crisis over security measures there appears to be forming.
Footage shows trucks, bulldozers and other vehicles moving toward the entrance of the site, holy to Muslims and Jews, early Tuesday morning.
The area is closed to reporters and reason for the rare traffic is unclear. But it could be part of an emerging compromise to remove the devices.
Signs that the crisis is being resolved came Monday after Jordan's King Abdullah II spoke over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the crisis. Amman administers the holy site via its religious body.
Israel erected the metal detectors after Arab gunmen killed two policemen from inside the shrine earlier this month. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.
The fate of the site is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.
A Jordanian news site linked to the kingdom's military says a deadly altercation at the Israeli embassy compound in Amman that sparked a diplomatic standoff was not politically motivated.
Hala Akhbar quoted an investigation Monday by a Jordanian security agency that determined the 17-year-old had attacked the guard with a screwdriver over a dispute about a furniture delivery. The Israeli embassy guard shot and killed two Jordanians after he was attacked.
The incident added to tensions between the allies in a crisis over security measures at a major Jerusalem holy site, which Amman administers via its religious body.
Assumptions at the time of the attack were that it was part of a wave of Muslim outrage over the metal detectors Israel set outside the site, holy to Muslims and Jews, after a deadly Palestinian attack there.
Jordan had insisted the guard could only leave after an investigation.
The Israeli Embassy staff returned safely to Israel Monday night ending a diplomatic standoff.
Israeli media earlier reported a compromise could be underway where the guard is released and the metal detectors removed.
The Palestinian U.N. ambassador is warning that the Palestinian people will stay in the streets until metal detectors and all other obstacles are removed from the Jerusalem holy site where the Al Aqsa mosque is located.
Riyad Mansour said the Palestinians condemn in the strongest terms the closing of the mosque for the first time since 1969 and demand a return of the status quo.
Muslim religious leaders allege Israel is trying to expand its control at the site, revered by Muslims and Jews, by installing metal detectors under the guise of security, a claim Israel denies.
Mansour told reporters at U.N. headquarters Monday that the Palestinians have ended all cooperation with Israel, including on security issues, over its actions at the site.
He urged the U.N. Security Council, which met behind closed doors Monday to discuss rising tensions stemming from the crisis over the Jerusalem site, to condemn Israel's actions in the strongest terms.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the staff of his country's embassy in Jordan has returned safely to Israel, ending a diplomatic standoff.
Netanyahu's office said late Monday that among those to return was an embassy security guard involved in a fatal shooting a day earlier.
Jordan had said the guard could leave only after an investigation. Israel said he had diplomatic immunity.
On Sunday evening the guard opened fire on two Jordanians including a 17-year-old who attacked him with a screw driver. Both died.
The incident took place at a residential building for embassy staff.
The return of the embassy staff followed a phone call between Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II.
The U.N. Mideast envoy is warning that the crisis at Jerusalem's holiest site affects millions if not billions of people around the world and has "the potential to have catastrophic costs" well beyond the Middle East.
Nicolay Mladenov urged a de-escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the installation of metal detectors at the site by the time of Muslim prayers on Friday, warning that it is taking place at a time of "political vacuum."
He said that is why it's more important than ever for the international community to focus on helping bring Israel and the Palestinians back to "an environment that is conducive" to negotiate arrangements leading to a two-state solution and "avoids turning the national Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious conflict that would be extremely dangerous for the region and beyond."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Israel is harming not only itself but the whole region with measures it has taken at a Jerusalem holy site, adding that Turkey would not allow Islam's sacred values to be "trampled" on.
Speaking to reporters Monday on his return from a trip to Gulf nations, Erdogan accused Israel of suffering from a "lapse of reason" by equating Muslims with terrorists.
"We invite Israel to act in accordance with the law and with human values," Erdogan said. "With the steps it is taking, Israel is heading toward a mistake and toward isolation."
Turkey has criticized new measures Israel has set up after Arab gunmen earlier this month opened fire from the site, killing two Israeli policemen.
Jordan's official news agency says King Abdullah II spoke over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the crisis over security measures at a major Jerusalem holy site, which Amman administers via its religious body.
Petra news said Monday night that Jordan's King urged Netanyahu to "remove the causes" of the crisis.
Israel set up metal detectors outside the holy compound after Arab gunmen killed Israeli policemen at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.
The fate of the site is an emotional issue at the core of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.
Petra news did not mention if the issue of an Israeli embassy guard who killed two Jordanians after being attacked by one of them was discussed.
Israeli media has speculated an emerging compromise would see the guard freed and the metal detectors removed.
The U.N. Mideast envoy is warning that "the dangers on the ground will escalate" if the crisis over Israel's installation of metal detectors at Jerusalem's holiest site isn't resolved by the time of Muslim prayers on Friday.
Nikolay Mladenov told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors Monday that it is "critically important" that the status quo which has been in place at the site since 1967 is preserved.
Muslim religious leaders alleged Israel was trying to expand its control at the compound, which includes the Al Aqsa mosque, under the guise of security, a claim Israel denied.
Mladenov said he urged Security Council members to use their influence with both sides to de-escalate the situation and ensure that the status quo is preserved while security is provided for worshippers and visitors.
He called the latest events "a step backwards," urging the international community to focus on bringing the two sides back to negotiations.
Israeli media reports the country's Shin Bet intelligence chief met with security officials in Jordan in an attempt to defuse a crisis over a Jerusalem shrine and an Israeli embassy guard who killed two Jordanians after being attacked by one of them.
Media reported Nadav Argaman was in Amman Monday to try and negotiate a deal to end the diplomatic standoff with Jordan that also administers the holy site via its religious body.
According to reports, Jordan will free the guard in exchange for Israel removing metal detectors from entrances to the site.
However Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office later issued a statement saying there was no Jordanian demand linking the issues.
Israel set up the security devices after Arab gunmen killed Israeli policemen at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews. The move incensed the Muslim world and triggered violence.
A phone call between Jordan's King Abdullah II and Netanyahu is expected later, media reported.
Israeli media reports high resolution cameras placed around Jerusalem's Old City walls could replace the metal detectors that sparked Muslim outrage after they were set outside entrances to a major shrine.
Channel 2 TV reported Monday the sophisticated cameras can detect concealed objects.
Israel's security cabinet is meeting again Monday night over the issue.
Israel erected the metal detectors after Arab gunmen killed two Israeli policemen from the shrine.
The fate of the site is at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.
Palestinians allege the metal detectors are an Israeli attempt to control the Muslim-administered site and launched mass protests that turned violent.
Israel emphatically denies the claims insisting they are strictly meant to stop attacks.
Israel's U.N. ambassador says he believes the standoff with Jordan over the killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard near Israel's embassy in Amman will be resolved "shortly."
Danny Danon told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York Monday that "we are resolving it with the Jordanians."
Jordan reportedly wants to investigate the guard who opened fire and has prevented staff from leaving the premises.
On another flashpoint, Danon said removing metal detectors from a major Jerusalem shrine is being discussed by the government.
He said Israel doesn't want to see weapons brought onto the religious site and noted that metal detectors are used at the Vatican and Mecca.
Danon spoke ahead of urgent Security Council closed consultations on escalating tensions in Jerusalem.
He said the council should demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas stop violence, stop paying "terrorists," and stop "Palestinian lies."
Israel has set up metal railings leading to metal detectors outside an entrance to a major Jerusalem holy site.
The installation of the metal detectors last week had outraged the Muslim world.
The railings seen Monday are of the type used for crowd control, to create orderly lines.
Israeli police declined to comment. A media report has suggested that such railings could be part of an eventual compromise that would enable the removal of the metal detectors.
Israel erected the metal detectors after Arab gunmen killed two policemen from inside the shrine earlier this month.
Palestinians alleged the security devices are part of an Israeli attempt to control the Muslim-administrated site and launched mass protests.
Israel has denied such claims, but has begun considering alternatives amid escalating Muslim protests.
A former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency who was at the center of the last major crisis with Jordan says a deal could be reached to pacify Amman as well as cool tensions at a major Jerusalem shrine.
Danny Yatom said Monday that Israel should remove metal detectors from outside the Jerusalem holy site, administered by a Jordanian religious body, in return for Amman releasing Israeli staff.
Israel set up the security devices after Arab gunmen killed Israeli policemen at the site, holy to both Muslims and Jews. The move incensed the Muslim world.
"(The) Jordanians will release our people from the embassy and especially the security officer that shot, and in return we will help the Jordanian Waqf to carry on its role on Temple Mount," Yatom told The Associated Press, adding " We will also take off the metal detector gates."
A shooting at Israel's embassy in Jordan further complicated the crisis.
Jordan wants to investigate the guard who opened fire and has prevented staff from leaving the premises.
Yatom resigned as Mossad chief in the aftermath of a failed attempt to assassinate a leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas Islamic in Jordan.
Israeli police say a Palestinian assailant has stabbed an Arab citizen of Israel in the neck in central Israel, apparently mistaking him for a Jew.
Police spokesman Luba Samri says Monday's attack was nationalist in nature. She says the 21-year-old attacker is a Palestinian working illegally in Israel. He stabbed the 32-year-old victim at a fast food stand in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, apparently thinking the man is Jewish.
The attacker then tried to escape but a bystander rammed him with his car and handed him over to police.
The attack comes amid tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.
In the past two years, Palestinians have killed 45 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist, mostly in stabbing attacks. During that period, Israeli forces have killed more than 255 Palestinians, mostly attackers.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says an Israeli security guard who shot and killed two Jordanians after one of them stabbed him will be brought home to Israel.
Netanyahu says he has spoken to the guard in question and assured him that Israel has experience in dealing with such situation and would bring him home.
A news website linked to the Jordanian military reported that Jordan is refusing to let the guard leave before he is questioned. The stabber's father says he is demanding justice for his son's death. The guard opened fire after being stabbed with a screwdriver.
The incident sparked a diplomatic standoff and further complicated efforts to resolve an escalating crisis over Jerusalem's most contested holy site.
The father of a Jordanian youth who stabbed an Israeli security guard near Israel's Embassy in Jordan and was then shot to death says he demands "justice" over his son's killing.
Zakariah al-Jawawdeh tells The Associated Press that his son is a "son of Jordan who was shot on Jordanian soil" and it would be unacceptable for the Jordanian government not to seek justice for this.
The son, a 17-year-old, stabbed the guard with a screwdriver late on Sunday. The guard opened fire, killing his attacker and another Jordanian.
The incident sparked a diplomatic standoff and further complicates efforts to resolve an escalating crisis over Jerusalem's most contested holy site.
The father on Monday denied reports that his son was motivated by tensions at the site. He says his son was unaffiliated with any group.
A news website linked to the Jordanian military is reporting that Jordan is refusing to let an Israeli security guard who shot two Jordanians near the Israeli Embassy leave the country.
Monday's report in Hala Akhbar says Jordan wants to investigate the shooter and if Israel refuses to allow that, it will take "diplomatic measures."
The report gives the first indication from Jordan on a diplomatic standoff with Israel over the shooting.
The Israeli security guard killed the two Jordanians after being attacked by one of them with a screwdriver late on Sunday. Israel says the guard has diplomatic immunity under international conventions and is in touch with Jordanian authorities on the matter.
The incident further complicates efforts to resolve an escalating crisis over Jerusalem's most contested holy site.
A senior Muslim cleric says Jerusalem's police chief has met with a lawyer representing the Muslim leadership to discuss solutions to the escalating crisis over a contested holy site.
The crisis erupted last week, after Israel installed metal detectors at the compound following a shooting attack that killed two policemen. Israel's move triggered Muslim protests and claims that it's trying to expand its role at the site, which is also holy to Jews. Israel denied this charge.
Cleric Ikrema Sabri said on Monday that a lawyer for the Muslim leadership met Sunday with Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevi, and heard a response to Muslim demands.
Sabri says newly installed security cameras, described in media reports as a possible alternative to the metal detectors, were discussed.
The lawyer is briefing Muslim leaders Monday.
Israel's former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says she fears that Israel is on the verge of a religious battle with the Muslim world.
Livni says that tactical differences over security measures at a Jerusalem holy site have deteriorated into something far worse and Israel has to stop this.
Linvi told Israel's Army Radio on Monday that "we are a step away from turning our conflict with the Palestinians, and cooperation with Jordan and other Sunni nations, into a pan-Muslim event against the state of Israel."
She says the Israeli Cabinet needs to show leadership to prevent this from happening.
Tensions have been high since Israel set up new measures after Arab gunmen earlier this month opened fire from the site, killing two Israeli policemen. A deadly shooting near Israel's Embassy in Jordan has exacerbated tensions.
Israeli media are reporting that President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy is on his way to the region to try and defuse a growing crisis over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.
The newspaper Haaretz says that Jason Greenblatt is expected to arrive on Monday in the Trump administration's first direct foray into the crisis.
Tensions have been high since Israel set up new measures after Arab gunmen earlier this month opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen.
Israel says the measures are meant to prevent more attacks but Palestinians allege they are an Israeli attempt to control the Muslim-administrated site and have launched mass protests.
Three Palestinians have been killed in street clashes and a 20-year-old Palestinian stabbed and killed three members of an Israeli family in their home in a West Bank settlement.
Israel's security Cabinet has reached no decision about the new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site that have set off a wave of violence.
The top decision-making forum met overnight and into early Monday to discuss the latest developments, including an incident in which a security guard at the country's embassy in Jordan opened fire, killing two Jordanians, after being attacked.
The incident is threatening to complicate the crisis over the holy site, which is administered by Muslim authorities under the auspices of Jordan.
Israel set up the new measures after Arab gunmen opened fire from the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen. It says they are meant to prevent more attacks. Palestinians allege they are an Israeli attempt to control the site and have launched mass protests.