Friday, July 21, 2017

Mahmoud Abbas freezes contact with Israel over al-Aqsa

The western wall of the compound, also known as the Wailing Wall
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the Palestinian leadership will freeze all contact with Israel, as mass protests over new Israeli security measures over al-Aqsa turned deadly.

Abbas cut short his visit to China on Friday to deal with the ongoing crisis.

At least three Palestinians were killed and hundreds more injured on Friday.

The protests were triggered by Israel's installation of metal detectors at entrances to the occupied East Jerusalem compound in response to a deadly shoot-out there last week.

In a brief televised speech, Abbas said all official contact with Israel was suspended until it removed the security measures.

"I declare the suspension of all contacts with the Israeli side on all levels until it cancels its measures at Al-Aqsa mosque and preserves the status quo," Abbas said after meeting his aides, referring to a mosque forming part of the holy site.

The ancient marble-and-stone compound is revered by Muslims and Jews.

It houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest site, and the 7th-century Dome of the Rock.

The western wall of the compound, also known as the Wailing Wall, is considered the holiest site in Judaism.

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