(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for restraint over a holy site in East Jerusalem.
The Al-Aqsa mosque has seen daily clashes amid Palestinian fears Israel is trying to take control of the compound, which is sacred to Islam and to Judaism.
Michael Kenny reports.
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There’s been heightened security at East Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque, a Muslim holy place.
But Jews also believe the area is sacred.
Also known as Temple Mount, it is the site of some of the earliest Jewish temples in Jerusalem.
Jews have been allowed to visit the compound for decades but not pray there, a situation decried by conservative Israeli politicians.
Palestinians fear Israel is trying to change the status quo and it’s resulted in clashes around the mosque compound.
The shooting that injured a right-wing Jewish activist led to violent clashes across Jerusalem last week.
Israel’s Prime Minister has used a cabinet meeting to call on all his country’s MPs to show restraint.
(Translated) “While standing firmly for our rights, we are determined to preserve the status quo for all religions to prevent the flare-up from the Temple Mount, inside the Temple Mount and around the Temple Mount. It is very easy to set religious fires. It is much harder to extinguish them. These messages have been passed on to Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) as well as other players.”
Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments were welcomed by Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
(Translated) “The Israeli government and the Israeli Prime Minister had a statement earlier calling for restraint: We are with the restraint. We do not want an escalation, so the situation won’t reach a point that no one can handle it. We do not want this.”
Al Aqsa and adjacent neighbourhoods have seen months of violence.
Palestinians want east Jerusalem, including Al Aqsa, as the capital of their future state.
Israel considers east Jerusalem, conquered in 1967, to be part of its “eternal” capital.
Palestinian activist Essam Baker believes the area should be considered an integral part of a Palestinian state.
(Translated) “We are protesting against what is happening in the occupied city of Jerusalem and we assure that it is the capital of the state of Palestine. We condemn the Israeli acts in it.”
Meanwhile Israel has closed two border crossings with Gaza.
The Israeli army says it took the decision after a rocket fired from Gaza hit the Eshkol area of southern Israel on Friday, even though it didn’t cause any casualties or damage.
A ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas movement took effect on August the 26th, ending a 50-day conflict that claimed 2140 Palestinian lives and 73 on the Israeli side.
Both sides are expected to resume talks soon in Cairo as part of efforts to keep the ceasefire in place.