Posts Tagged ‘Mahmoud Abbas’

Palestinians Clash With Israeli Soldiers Over Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

December 7, 2017

At least 22 wounded, one seriously as protests erupt in Gaza and the West Bank

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■ Israel reinforcing troops in the West Bank

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■ Demonstrators burn pictures of Trump
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By Jack Khoury Dec 07, 2017 5:43 PM
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.827480

A Palestinian protester stands between burning tyres during clashes with Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 7, 2017.

A Palestinian protester stands between burning tyres during clashes with Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 7, 2017. AFP Photo / Abbas Momani
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At least 19 Palestinians were wounded on Thursday in the West Bank, East Jerualem and Gaza during clashes with Israeli soldiers following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to the Red Crescent.

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Seven Palestinians were wounded at demonstrations checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Four were said to have been wounded by live fire and two by rubber bullets. Eight were wounded by rubber bullets in Tul Karm, three in Bethlehem. Four Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.

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Confrontations were also reported in Nablus and Jenin. A military spokeswoman said soldiers had used “riot-dispersal gear” against hundreds of rock-throwers. Dozens of demonstrators were treated for inhalation of tear gas.

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In Gaza, east of Khan Younis, three Palestinian protesters were wounded by live fire, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

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Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes at a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 7, 2017.

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 7, 2017.REUTERS / Mohamad Torokman
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Demonstrations in Ramallah, Tul Karm, and Nablus were attended by many hundreds of demonstrators, some of whom burned pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump. Dozens of Palestinians also protested in several locations throughout the north and center of the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank cities of Hebron and Al-Bireh, thousands of demonstrators rallied with chants of “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine,” witnesses said. Some Palestinians threw stones at soldiers.

The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops deployed in the West Bank in response to the protests. Several new army battalions would be deployed and other forces put on standby, a military statement said, calling the measures “part of the IDF’s readiness for possible developments.”

Israeli forces clash with Palestinian protesters near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 7, 2017.

Israeli forces clash with Palestinian protesters near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 7, 2017.AFP PHOTO / Thomas Coex

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A protest of around 20 Palestinian women was held at Damascus Gate at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. About half the schools in East Jerusalem were closed on Thursday, and those that were open were barely attended.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Amman to meet King Abdullah II of Jordan to coordinate positions on Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

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Trump’s decision has garnered condemnation from leaders around the world and calls by Hamas to “ignite a new intifada.”

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Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday called for a new uprising against Israel following the announcement. In reference to Jerusalem, he said Trump’s televised remarks on Wednesday were “a declaration of war” against “the diamond in the Palestinian crown,” and said those who believe that the Palestinian people will reconcile itself to Trump’s newly declared policy are deluding themselves.”

Clashes in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip

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Leaders throughout the Middle East warned that Trump’s decision would spark outrage in the region.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Trump on Thursday of throwing the Middle East into a “ring of fire” by declaring the divided holy city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Saudi Arabia is “deeply disappointed” by U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech on Jerusalem, the Kingdom’s embassy in Washington announced on Wednesday.  King Salman called Trump on Tuesday ahead of the president’s speech, and warned him of the “dangerous consequences” of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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In Lebanon, Hezbollah lawmakers said the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital constituted aggression against Palestinians and resistance was the only way to recover lost rights.

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Israeli forces take position during clashes with Palestinian protesters near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 7, 2017 on December 7, 2017.

Israeli forces take position during clashes with Palestinian protesters near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 7, 2017 on December 7, 2017.AFP Photo / Abbas Momani
With reporting by Reuters.

Jack Khoury
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.827480

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At Bethlehem’s Manger Square, Palestinian demonstrators burn images of US President Donald Trump

December 7, 2017
Palestinian rage over holy city fuels fears of bigger conflict —

 

Palestinian demonstrators burn posters of the US president in Bethlehem’s Manger Square on December 6, 2017 to protest his declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (AFP / MUSA AL SHAER)

LONDON: Palestinians on Wednesday warned that a bloody third “intifada” could follow a decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, branded Trump’s policy shift as a “breach of international conventions” which both trampled on the rights of Palestinians and put Israel at heightened risk of attack.
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He told Arab News: “People are going to go into the streets, not only in Palestine but in all capitals across the Arab world. The situation is very risky.”
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By changing America’s stance toward Jerusalem, Trump “is opening a can of worms that cannot be controlled.”
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Trump’s decision sparked anger across the Middle East and beyond as global leaders warned about the destabilizing repercussions across borders.
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Since fielding a phone call from Donald Trump on Tuesday night, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been in close contact with regional allies, the UN and the EU, demanding they condemn the move.
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Hassassian said that the US policy shift discredited America’s role as a peace broker between Israelis and Palestinians.
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“We cannot look at the US as a mediator anymore,” he told Arab News, adding that the new policy showed an undeniable bias toward the Jewish state. Moreover, Hassassian cautioned that altering the status of Jerusalem would spark ire far beyond the borders of Palestine.
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“The issue of Jerusalem will carry the weight of a religious conflict, now,” Hassassian said. “1.5 billion Muslims are not going to accept the monopoly of Judaism over the (holy city).”
The American president he said, “is putting the region into real risk.”
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The international community considers East Jerusalem to be Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.
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Trump’s statement, Hassassian said, constituted a break with UN resolutions and international norms.
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Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, agreed. “The decision that Donald Trump has made is a flagrant violation of international law and disregards legitimate rights and claims of the Palestinian people,” he told Arab News.
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He said that the status of Jerusalem was an unequivocal red line for Palestinians. “There is no possible peaceful resolution to the conflict that does not acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.”
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Condemnation of Trump’s new policy was echoed by Omar El-Hamdoon president of the Muslim Association of Britain, who said it was “not just a step in the wrong direction but it’s almost like pouring oil onto the fire.”
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Hassassian said the Palestinian leadership was appealing to the international community to stand against Trump’s intransigence.
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Jamal agreed: “It is time for the international community to take robust action if it wishes to support a just resolution,” he said. “Donald Trump’s decision needs to be … condemned by all governments, including the UK government that say they support international law.”
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Mahmoud Abbas summoned to meet Saudi rulers in Riyadh

November 6, 2017

Palestinian Authority (PA) leader slated to sit down with king and crown prince of Gulf kingdom, which is in the midst of a historic power shakeup

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Then Saudi Crown Prince and now King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (right) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) in the Saudi Red Sea resort of Jeddah, on June 18, 2014. (AFP/HO/Saudi Press Agency)

Then Saudi Crown Prince and now King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (right) meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) in the Saudi Red Sea resort of Jeddah, on June 18, 2014. (AFP/HO/Saudi Press Agency)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia unexpectedly on Monday to meet with King Salman  and Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman, with the Gulf kingdom at the height of a major crackdown on members of the royal family.

Abbas had been in Egypt, where he was scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, when he was summoned to Riyadh to meet with the Saudi rulers, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

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The Palestinian ambassador in Riyadh, Bassam Agha, said the meeting would address bilateral contacts and efforts to strengthen relations between the two sides, as well as “developments on the Palestinian issue.”

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s heir to the throne oversaw an unprecedented wave of arrests of dozens of the country’s most powerful princes, military officers, businessmen and government ministers. Some of them are potential rivals or critics of the crown prince, whose purported anti-corruption sweep sent shockwaves across the kingdom Sunday as he further consolidated power.

Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Moscow’s Kremlin, Russia, May 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, pool, File)

Abbas’s Fatah party, which leads the West-Bank-based PA, is currently in the midst of a reconciliation process with the Hamas terror group, its longtime rival that controls the Gaza Strip.

The two sides signed an agreement last month in Cairo that calls for the PA to retake civilian control of the Strip by December 1, a decade after Hamas ousted it from the coastal enclave in a violent coup.

In recent months, Hamas has publicly flaunted its burgeoning ties with Iran, and the Islamic Republic has in turn sworn to increase its military backing of the Gaza-based terror group.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are currently locked in a battle for regional hegemony, and blame each other for spreading extremism throughout the Middle East.

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (2nd-R) meets with Iranian official Hossein Amir Abdollahian (R) and other Hamas operatives in Lebanon on August 1, 2017. (Courtesy)

On Saturday, a high-profile Hamas delegation visited Tehran for the second time in recent weeks, in order to attend a memorial service for the father of Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force.

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Saleh al-Arouri

The delegation included Deputy politburo chief Saleh al-Arouri and politburo member Ezzat al-Rishq.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-summoned-to-meet-saudi-rulers-in-riyadh/

AP contributed to this report.

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With visit to Iran, Hamas thumbs nose at Palestinian reconciliation — “Unite against the Zionist entity.”

October 25, 2017

Terror group signals it will never give up its weaponry, parades independence from Egypt with surprise Tehran trip

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Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in front of portraits of late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (left), and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right), at a rally in Tehran, February 11, 2012. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in front of portraits of late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini (left), and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right), at a rally in Tehran, February 11, 2012. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

At the outset of the current round of Palestinian reconciliation talks, Hamas appeared committed to working with Egypt to reach a deal to end 10 years of a bitter rivalry with Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority.

But then a senior delegation of officials from the terror organization took an unexpected visit to Iran, casting a shadow over the unity efforts.

When talks began, it seemed Hamas had taken a good look in the mirror — seen its international stance waning, and the territory it controls, the Gaza Strip, suffering from vast unemployment as well as crippling electric and water crises — and understood it had to make drastic changes to stay in power.

And there was the matter of Egypt. Cairo holds strong sway over Hamas, as it can partially remove the 11-year crippling blockade of the enclave, which would end years of limited travel and boost the Gazan economy. Hamas’s senior leadership is now also located in Gaza, so without Egypt’s consent, they can’t leave the Strip.

So whereas previous reconciliation attempts between Hamas and Fatah had failed, both Palestinian factions argued that perhaps with Egyptian help, real progress could be made.

This image was punctured over the weekend, when a senior Hamas delegation, which included group’s deputy political leader Salah al-Arouri, took an unexpected visit to Iran and publicized it on its official media.

وفد حماس بطهران يلتقي عددا من المسؤولين الإيرانيين، من بينهم رئيس البرلمان الإيراني د. علي لاريجاني، ومستشار قائد الثورة د. علي أكبر ولايتي.

Earlier this month, it was Arouri who personally signed a deal in Cairo to allow for the Palestinian Authority government to retake control of the Gaza Strip, under the watchful gaze of Egyptian Intelligence Minister Khalid Fawzi.

Two weeks later, Arouri was in Tehran, promising to “eliminate Israel,” and shaking hands with senior Iranian officials, who promised Iran’s support — including military aid — would continue to get stronger “day by day.”

On Monday, Hossein Sheikholeslam, an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, told the Hamas-linked al-Shehab news site, “We will give Hamas anything it demands from Iran.”

Since the start of the reconciliation process, Hamas has said it would not give up control of its 25,000-strong military. At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not permit any weapons outside of his government’s control. This was an obstacle both sides agreed would not be dealt with during the initial stages of negotiations.

With its trip to Iran, Hamas is sending a message to the PA and to Egypt that it won’t be backing down.

It was also an obvious rejection of Israel’s requirement that Hamas cut ties with Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (center right) meets with senior Hamas officials in Tehran on August 7, 2017. (screen capture)

Meanwhile, since Arouri’s trip to Tehran, Abbas and his deputies have made clear that, despite media reports to the contrary, they have not backed down on their demand to control all the weapons in Gaza.

“There won’t be any militias” in Gaza, Abbas declared on Monday, in an interview with the official Chinese news agency Xinhua. “This is what we mean by reconciliation and it’s what we’re working on,” he said.

Also on Monday, senior Abbas political aide Ahmad Majdalani elaborated on what Abbas meant by full control of the Strip during an interview on Palestine TV.

“We will impose our control in Gaza above and below ground,” he said, in an obvious reference to the many tunnels Hamas’s military wing had dug underground, some of them extending into Israel. The terror group used tunnels to infiltrate into the Jewish state during the 2014 summer war.

Hamas argues its weapons are necessary for “resistance” against Israel. Majdalani argued that if Hamas retains its weapons, “any faction can form a militia tomorrow, say ‘these are weapons of the resistance and you can’t touch them’…This is not a state,” he said.

Egypt has yet to comment on Hamas’s trip to Iran, though the pivot likely irked Cairo. On Monday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reiterated that Cairo and Tehran are not on friendly terms.

Khaled Fawzi, center, head of the Egyptian Intelligence services, arrives with Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad, left, and Hamas’ Saleh al-Arouri, right, before signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements ended their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. (AFP/ KHALED DESOUKI)

“Our relations with Iran have been severed for nearly forty years. We seek to reduce the existing tension and ensure the security of our brothers in the Gulf,” he said Monday night on France 24, referring to the conflict between Arab Gulf countries and Iran.

With full knowledge of the existing tensions between Cairo and Tehran, Hamas nonetheless chose to publicize its trip to Iran, underlining that it feels it can still operate independently of Egypt.

Abbas, in his interview with Xinhua, seemed to express his disapproval of Iranian meddling into internal Palestinian affairs, saying, “We want reconciliation, unity, and that no one will interfere in our internal affairs because we do not interfere in any else’s affairs.”

“We want that any assistance provided from any party in the world be given through the Palestinian Authority,” he added.

Speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani told the Hamas delegation over the weekend, “What matters is that the Palestinian factions put their differences aside and unite against the Zionist entity.”

But thanks to Iran’s promise to continue — and increase — backing to Hamas’s armed wing, Palestinian unity seems as unlikely as ever.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/with-visit-to-iran-hamas-thumbs-nose-at-palestinian-reconciliation/

Saudi Cabinet hails Trump’s Iran stance, reiterates support for fight against terrorism

October 18, 2017

RIYADH: King Salman headed Saudi Arabia’s latest Cabinet session on Tuesday afternoon at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

RIYADH: The king briefed the Cabinet on his phone call with US President Donald Trump, saying he had expressed the Kingdom’s support for Trump’s firm stance on Iran and his condemnation of Iran’s support for terrorism in the region.

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King Salman also briefed the Cabinet on his recent talks with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, during which they discussed the bilateral relations and reviewed the region’s events.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the king revealed, had briefed him on the recent reconciliation agreement between Abbas’ Fatah-backed Palestinian National Authority and Hamas. King Salman observed that unity will enable the Palestinian government to better serve its citizens.

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The king also briefed the Cabinet on his phone call with Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi, in which he stated that the Kingdom fully supports the unity, security and stability of Iraq, as well as the adherence of all parties to the Iraqi Constitution.

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Minister of Culture and Information, Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, said in his statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the Cabinet had reviewed the Justice Ministry’s submissions on the transferal of commercial disputes from the jurisdiction of the Board of Grievances to specialized commercial courts, which he described as “a great leap forward” in the Kingdom’s legal system.

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The Cabinet condemned the attacks that targeted security points in the city of Al-Arish in Egypt, the two bombings in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, and the attack on the Djimbi mosque in the Central African Republic. It also reiterated its continuous support of countries fighting terrorism.

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The Cabinet approved several mandates from ministers to draft memoranda of understanding with other countries, including the Republic of Korea, Morocco and the UAE, as well as a new system to regulate the trading of petroleum products.

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http://www.arabnews.com/node/1179346/saudi-arabia

Palestinian leader says Trump administration ‘in chaos’

August 20, 2017

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Jared Kushner meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, June 21 2017.. (photo credit:AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he has met with officials from US President Donald Trump’s administration over 20 times since his election in November 2016.

“Each time they reiterate their commitment to a two-state solution and the stop to settlement building, Abbas says. “I urge them to tell Netanyahu that, but they are deterred.”

“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” he adds.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-august-20-2017/

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Jason Greenblatt, assistant to President Donald Trump and special representative for international negotiations, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 14. | AFP/Getty

Jordan king makes rare West Bank visit to meet Palestinian president

August 7, 2017

King Abdullah II has flown to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Abbas for the first time in five years. The trip is being viewed as a message to Israel, particularly over a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Jordan’s King Abdullah II flew by helicopter to the West Bank on Monday to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas amid shared tensions with Israel.

Abdullah received a red carpet welcome in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. He was greeted by Abbas before the two national anthems were played.

The two leaders meet fairly frequently in the Jordanian capital of Amman and other regional capitals, but it was Abdullah’s first visit to Ramallah since December 2012.

The king’s trip had to be coordinated with Israeli authorities who control all entrance and exit points to the West Bank, including the 150 kilometer (93 mile) border with Jordan and the airspace above it.

Jordan's King Abdullah II is hugged by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas King Abdullah II received a red carpet welcome and a hug from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Signal to Israel

Abdullah’s visit comes amid rising Jordanian-Israeli tensions and is seen as a message to Tel Aviv that the Jordanian monarch is aligning with Palestinians on key issues – particularly concerning a contested Jerusalem holy site.

A crisis erupted last month at the Al Aqsa mosque compound when Israel installed metal detectors at Muslim entrances following the killing of two Israeli policemen.

The compound, which sits on a plateau in the Old City, is the third holiest site in Islam and is also revered by the Jews who call it Temple Mount.

Read more: Opinion – Tension escalates on the Temple Mount

The security changes led to several days of protests and clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshippers.

Tensions peaked on July 23 when an Israeli security guard shot and killed two Jordanians at the Israeli embassy in Amman. Israeli officials say one of the men attacked the security guard with a screwdriver while the other was accidentally shot.

The crisis finally eased on July 27 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that the metal detectors be taken down after consultations with Jordan.

Read more: Why Israel censored reporting on the Jordan embassy shooting

Jordan has been the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites since the 1920s. The role is also a key component of Abdullah’s legitimacy.

Abbas and Abdullah are also likely to discuss a US-led effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which have been on hold for the past three years.

US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the region, Jason Greenblatt, has made several trips to Jerusalem, Amman and Ramallah, but there are few signs of interest in restarting negotiations.

rs/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/jordan-king-makes-rare-west-bank-visit-to-meet-palestinian-president/a-39995071

Palestinians Say Security Cooperation with Israel to Resume ‘Gradually’

July 29, 2017

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 Members of the Palestinian special police forces wait to compete during the 7th Annual International Warrior Competition hosted by the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC), Sunday, April 19, 2015, Amman, Jordan. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
 July 29, 2017, 2:52 pm
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Security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will gradually increase as long as Muslim access to the Temple Mount remains unrestricted, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Saturday.

Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas suspended security coordination with Israel to protest the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the site, a move that sparked widespread protests and condemnation from the Muslim world.

The security cooperation between Israel and the PA, in place for years despite near-frozen diplomatic ties, is seen as critical for both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah faction to keep a lid on violence in the West Bank, particularly from the Hamas terror group.

The official praised Israel for removing security restrictions imposed at the Temple Mount in the wake of a deadly terror attack at the site earlier this month. He also praised the Shin Bet Security service and the IDF for their handling of the mounting tensions surrounding the Jerusalem holy site, and expressed hope the two sides were on the way to resuming working ties.

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 Palestinian Muslim worshipers attend the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan outside the Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on June 2, 2017. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The fate of the Temple Mount is an emotional issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements pertaining to the site sparks tensions.

Jews revere the hilltop compound as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

But the walled compound is also home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe the site marks the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/security-cooperation-with-israel-to-resume-gradually-pa-official-says/

Analysis: Jerusalem Shrine Crisis Hardens Leaders’ Positions — “A nation led by Prophet Muhammad will not be defeated.”

July 29, 2017

AMMAN, Jordan — The latest crisis over one of the most combustible spots in the Middle East has been defused for now, but has pushed the leaders of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians into tougher positions that could trigger new confrontations. The standoff over a Jerusalem shrine holy to Muslims and Jews also signaled that the festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shifting further from what was once seen as a territorial dispute toward a religious one.

Palestinian prayer in the east Jerusalem area of Wadi Joz, near the Temple Mount, July 28, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem)Palestinian prayer in the east Jerusalem area of Wadi Joz, near the Temple Mount, July 28, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem)

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WHAT STARTED IT?

On July 14, three Arab assailants opened fire from the walled compound at Israeli police guards, killing two. The shooting left Israeli police scrambling for ways to screen worshippers for weapons as they enter the Muslim-run site through eight gates.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a police recommendation to install metal detectors — reportedly over objections from Israel’s military and a domestic security agency.

The new measures stoked Muslim fears that Israel is trying to expand control over the site under the guise of security — a charge Israel denies. Palestinians in Jerusalem, led by senior Muslim clerics, began staging mass street prayers in protest, four Palestinians were killed in street clashes with Israeli troops and a Palestinian killed three members of an Israeli family in a West Bank settlement.

Tensions ebbed after Israel removed the metal detectors and other devices earlier this week.

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SIDELINED PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT

Mahmoud Abbas, who runs autonomous enclaves in the West Bank, was in China and his return home a week into the crisis reinforced perceptions among many Palestinians that he is out of touch. Trying to assert a leadership role, Abbas announced a suspension of security coordination with Israel until the situation at the shrine is restored to what it was before July 14.

For years, Abbas’ forces worked with Israel to foil attacks by militants in the West Bank, often acting against a shared foe, the Islamic militant Hamas. Such mutually beneficial cooperation, though unpopular among Palestinians, survived many crises and failed efforts to negotiate the terms of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

Abbas threatened in the past to end security coordination, but never followed through. If he now restores such ties, he risks further harm to his domestic standing. If he doesn’t, Israel’s right-wing government could retaliate and threaten the survival of his Palestinian Authority.

The crisis highlighted Abbas’ fading influence in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. He also risks being cut off completely from Gaza, the territory he lost to Hamas in 2007. In recent weeks, Hamas and a former Abbas-aide-turned rival, Mohammed Dahlan, forged a Gaza power-sharing deal that would open the blockaded territory to Egypt and further weaken ties with the West Bank.

Abbas, 82, was briefly hospitalized Saturday for what his office said was a routine checkup, but it also served as a reminder of his advanced age and lack of a successor.

Nearly two weeks of civil disobedience have gripped the Palestinian territories [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

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ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER UNDER FIRE

Netanyahu was lambasted by all sides in Israel.

The center-left accused him of making hasty decisions at a volatile site — the third holiest in Islam and the most sacred on in Judaism — that has triggered major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian violence, including one involving Netanyahu in the mid-1990s.

Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist rivals, key to the survival of his coalition, said he capitulated to Arab pressure and effectively encouraged Palestinians to push for more concessions.

Netanyahu responded with a flurry of tough statements.

He ordered the resumption of plans to build a new West Bank settlement and reportedly gave the green light to draft legislation to bring several West Bank settlements under Jerusalem’s jurisdiction. He vowed to “kick Al Jazeera out of Israel,” accusing the Qatar-based satellite station of inciting violence over the shrine crisis. And he called for the death penalty — not imposed by Israel for more than half a century — for last week’s killer of the Israeli family.

Even if it’s mostly rhetoric, Netanyahu’ statements suggest that fending off his ultra-nationalist challengers is more important to him than calming the atmosphere. As both Netanyahu and Abbas harden positions, chances of the Trump administration — itself embroiled in turmoil — being able to revive peace talks seem close to zero.

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JORDAN’S ANGRY MONARCH

King Abdullah II publicly vented his anger about what he called Netanyahu’s “provocative” behavior. Such harsh words from an Arab leader known for his measured tone were prompted by twin crises between the two countries and signaled delicate ties had taken a hit.

Abdullah, Muslim custodian of the Jerusalem shrine, was involved in trying to defuse tensions there when he faced another complication: On Sunday, a guard at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan shot dead two Jordanians after one attacked him with a screw driver.

After a phone call between the king and Netanyahu, the guard returned to Israel and Israel removed the metal detectors. The sequence of events suggested a horse trade with problematic optics for Abdullah that might have been forgotten quickly — had Netanyahu not given a hero’s welcome to the guard and inflamed long-running resentment against Israel in Jordan.

Jordan has since charged the guard with murder, demanded he be tried in Israel and issued a veiled threat — through an unidentified official quoted by Jordanian media — that Israel’s ambassador would not be allowed to return to Jordan until the guard is held accountable.

Israel and Jordan share strategic security interests, but any open cooperation at this time might not be tolerated by the Jordanian public. Abdullah already faces other threats to Jordan’s stability, including rising unemployment and spillover from regional conflicts.

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FROM LAND DISPUTE TO HOLY WAR?

Recent events made it clear that the conflict in the Holy Land is no longer just a territorial dispute that can be resolved through creative partition ideas. Such efforts ran aground a decade ago, and the absence of a solution has given a bigger role to the religious component. The showdown over shrine was increasingly being framed as a zero sum game between religions.

After Israel captured the shrine in 1967, it left the administration in Muslim hands to avoid a conflagration with the Muslim world. The arrangement held into the 1990s, when more rabbis challenged a long-standing religious ban on Jews entering the site.

Increased visits by Jews — even if Israel enforces a Jewish prayer ban at the compound — have spooked Muslims, reviving fears of purported Israeli takeover attempts.

In the past two weeks, Palestinian protesters chanted Islamic not nationalist slogans. “A nation led by Prophet Muhammad will not be defeated,” was one of the rallying cries.

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Laub, the AP bureau chief in Jordan, has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1987.

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Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank contributed reporting.

Related:

Israeli security on high alert at the Old City of Jerusalem, July 28, 2017 (Marc Israel Sellem)Israeli security on high alert at the Old City of Jerusalem, July 28, 2017 (Marc Israel Sellem)

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Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers at Temple Mount.

Palestinians stand in front of Israeli police officers and newly installed metal detectors at an entrance to the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City July 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Inspecting a body on Friday near what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The area, home to the complex of Al Aqsa Mosque, is Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths. This photo from just after the killing of Israelis on July 14, 2017. Credit Ammar Awad/Reuters

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The Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Trump’s Mideast Envoy Expected in Israel Amid “Worst Unrest in Years”

July 24, 2017

JERUSALEM — The Latest on the escalation in Israel and the Palestinian territories over a contested Jerusalem holy site (all times local):

9:20 a.m.

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.

Image result for Jason Greenblatt, photos

Jason Greenblatt, assistant to President Donald Trump and special representative for international negotiations, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 14. | AFP/Getty

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.

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8:45 a.m.

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.

Related:

 (Includes links to related articles since the start of the crisis)