Monday, October 26, 2015

U.S. Brokered Agreement Fails to Defuse Israeli-Arab Violence

A general view shows the Al Aqsa Mosque in
 Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday. Getty Images
Deal sought to calm tensions around Jerusalem holy site
Palestinians mounted new attacks on Israelis Sunday despite a weekend agreement brokered by the U.S. that was aimed at defusing a wave of violence.
The agreement between the U.S., Jordan and Israel was an effort to clarify guidelines for jointly managing holy sites in Jerusalem. Those sites are a key source of the tensions fueling the latest round of clashes that began in mid-September.
Kerry and King Abdullah II of Jordan
The deal was brokered by visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday. Mr. Kerry then met Saturday in Amman with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is the joint custodian along with Israel of the Jerusalem holy site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, to Muslims.
Currently, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site while Jews are permitted to visit the area, which sits atop the Western Wall—Judaism’s holy site. Palestinian leaders have claimed that Israel is changing the rules to allow Jewish prayer on the mount—a claim that has fed tensions and violence.
But Mr. Netanyahu reaffirmed on Sunday that his government wasn’t changing the rules around access to the site.
Under the agreement reached Saturday, Jordan and Israel would establish 24-hour video surveillance of the holy site to assure Palestinians that the status quo isn’t changing and that Israeli forces aren’t provoking Palestinian worshipers, he said.
“I hope it will help calm things, at least regarding the Temple Mount,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of his government’s weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday and ahead of another day of attacks.
Two Palestinian assailants stabbed an Israeli civilian in the West Bank Jewish settlment of Gush Etzion, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, the Israeli military said. The civilian fired at the attackers, who fled the scene, the military added.
Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian woman in the West Bank city of Hebron after she was stopped for acting suspiciously and pulled out a knife, the Israeli police said.
Later Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli youth near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel. The Israeli was wounded and the attacker fled but was later apprehended, the military said.
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