Abbas asks US to intervene in Temple Mount crisis

"Israel will be responsible for any consequences to the issue of the metal detectors."

July 21, 2017 14:04
2 minute read.
donald trump mahmoud abbas

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the Trump Administration to help quell the rising tensions over the Temple Mount, known to Islam as the Al-Haram/Al-Sharif.

According to Wafa, the Palestinian News and Information Agency, Abbas spoke by telephone with US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is also his senior advisor.

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He urged the US to pressure Israel to remove the metal detectors it had placed at the entrances to the Temple Mount on Sunday as a security measure to prevent weapons smuggling to the site.

Abbas told Kushner that the situation is “extremely dangerous and might spiral out of control,” according to WAFA.

Israel will be responsible for any consequences to the issue of the metal detectors, he said. Abbas is also expected to hold an urgent meeting in Ramallah  on the issue with the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee and Fatah’s Revolutionary Council in Ramallah.
Jerusalem on alert ahead of Palestinian Day of Rage over Temple Mount, July 21, 2017. (Credit: Reuters)

Right-wing politicians on Friday said that Israel should not back down on the issue of the metal detectors.

“When it comes to Temple Mount sovereignty, there is no compromise,” said Transportation Israel Katz (Likud) who is a security cabinet member.

“The Temple Mount is in our hands,” said Katz as a referenced the famous quote of the Israeli soldiers who captured the site from Jordan during the Six-Day War in June 1967.

Katz was among those who voted early Friday morning to retain the metal detectors, which were placed at the site in the aftermath of last week’s terror attack there that claimed the lives of two Israeli policemen.

But the issue of metal detectors which began as a security measure, have quickly become a test of sovereignty and control between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third in Islam, which refers to the area as the Noble Sanctuary or the Al-Haram/Al-Sharif.

Since 1967, it has been under the custodianship of the Jordanian monarchy and managed by the Islamic Wakf. At the same time, it is also under Israeli security control.

Under the tightly guarded “status quo” only Muslims have the right to pray there. Christians and Jews can visit, but must refrain from religious worship.

Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs view the placement of the metal detectors as a violation of that status quo, dismissing Israeli arguments that it merely a security measure to keep weapons out of the Temple Mount area.

Attempts by the US and Jordan to quell the mounting tensions have yet to bear fruit.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in Washington, “We support the status quo and we welcome all sides continuing their commitment to maintaining the status quo.

“We are encouraging both sides to not take any actions that would potentially escalate tensions.

“We continue to speak with the governments in the region to try to encourage a peace process. That peace process is supported by this State Department, also Mr [US envoy Jason]. Greenblatt, Mr. [Jared] Kushner, and we’d just encourage both sides to maintain the status quo.”

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