Abbas to Freeze Contacts With Israel Until Recent Decisions on 'Al Aqsa' Backtracked

Palestinian and Israeli sources say security coordination continues

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech during a meeting of Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 21, 2017, during which he announced freezing contacts with Israel over new security measures the highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site of Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after deadly clashes erupted earlier the same day.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech during a meeting of Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 21, 2017, during which he announced freezing contacts with Israe ABBAS MOMANI/AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said on Friday that all contacts with Israel will cease until Israel removes metal detectors from the Temple Mount and backtracks its recent moves regarding the Temple Mount.

The Palestinian leader also called on Hamas to seize the opportunity for Palestinian national reconciliation.

The statement came after a day of violence in which three Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in a spate of clashes in Jeruaslem and the West Bank following Friday prayers.

But a Palestinian security source told Haaretz that Abbas' decision doesn't apply to coordination with the army. Israeli defense sources confirmed that security coordination will continue.

A document that emerged early on Saturday, attributed to Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh and addressed to Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said that ties between Israel and the PA would not actually be cut. But al-Sheikh soon said the document is fake. 

Abbas said that he would dedicate $55 million to supporting Palestinians in East Jerusalem and called on all Palestinians to donate a day's earnings.

Abbas said that he spoke with numerous heads of state including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and asked them to intervene with Israel in order to cancel the steps it has taken.

Furthermore, Abbas called for the release of all Palestinian prisoners and said that the Palestinian Authority will foot the bill for treatment of all those wounded in today's clashes.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday calling on Israel to cease violence and any actions that may lead to an escalation.

According the statement, Egypt called on Israel to respect the holy sites and the right of Palestinians to freedom of worship without restriction, and to remove anything that would lead to a further confrontation. Tensions escalated at the Temple Mount after Israeli authorities took the decision to install metal detectors at entrances to the site after an attack on Sunday by three Israeli-Arabs that left two police officers dead.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry called on the Israeli government to adopt a "policy of common sense" in order to prevent a deterioration that will only serve to hamper efforts to renew the political process.

The Egyptian call for calm joined a chorus of statements released by other countries following Friday's events. France's Foreign Ministry released a statement saying it was concerned by the violence and called on both parties to avoid anything that would change the status quo. A joint statement by Jordan and the United Arab Emirates also urged an end to tensions at the Temple Mount. Kuwait meanwhile condemned Israel's actions and called for international intervention.