Mahmoud Abbas freezes Israel contact over al-Aqsa dispute

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech during a meeting of Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

:: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday he was freezing contacts with Israel over new security measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after deadly clashes erupted earlier in the day.

Abbas said in a speech that the freeze would stay in place until Israel lifted the measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“I, on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, announce… a freeze of all contacts with the occupation state on all levels until Israel commits to cancelling all the measures against our Palestinian people in general and Jerusalem and al-Aqsa mosque in particular,” Abbas said to applause from Palestinian officials.

Abbas called the measures “falsely presented as a security measure to take control over al-Aqsa mosque”.

Abbas’s speech came after three Palestinians were killed and several hundred wounded Friday in clashes between protesters and Israeli forces over the new security measures at the holy site.

The unrest followed a decision by Israeli ministers not to order the removal of metal detectors erected at entrances to the compound, which includes the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, following an attack nearby a week ago that killed two policemen.

In anticipation of protests on Friday, Israeli police barred men under 50 from entering the Old City in annexed east Jerusalem for prayers, while all women were allowed in.

Palestinians react following tear gas that was shot by Israeli forces after Friday prayer on a street outside Jerusalem’s Old city July 21, 2017.

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