Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Wednesday on the international community to protect the holy Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem and to ensure freedom of worship as it had been until June 1967, especially with regard to prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. His comments followed his warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday that Israel's actions there could trigger a third intifada.
Speaking in Moscow at the dedication of a large mosque in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Abbas said that what he called Israel’s using institutionalized aggression against Al-Aqsa could not serve peace and coexistence. He said Israel’s actions provided a pretext for extremists all over the world to use religion as a tool for aggression and terror.
On Tuesday, Abbas urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “stop the chaos” at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, warning that the recent unrest in Jerusalem could lead to another intifada.
Abbas spoke after meeting French President Francois Hollande in Paris. According to AFP, Abbas said that “what is happening is very dangerous,” while warning against “an intifada (uprising) which we don’t want.”
At the end of this week Abbas will fly to New York for the UN General Assembly and the raising of the Palestinian flag for the first time in front of UN Headquarters.
Abbas’ bureau confirmed to Haaretz that Abbas will meet this Saturday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz that the Palestinians have no expectation that the U.S. administration will present a new peace plan and so Palestinian efforts will focus on the international arena along with attempts to move things ahead in the Palestinian domestic arena. In that vein, Palestinian officials reported that a meeting will take place this weekend between Fatah and senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials ahead of a special meeting in October in Cairo of leaders of Palestinian factions.
Abbas said this week that he sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently warning of the severe consequences of the ongoing diplomatic stasis. The message was sent via former cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit, whom Abbas invited to a secret meeting in Ramallah two weeks ago.
Abbas revealed the fact of the message and his use of Sheetrit as an envoy during a meeting in Paris on Monday with four retired Israeli diplomats who served in the past as ambassadors to France: Daniel Shek, Nissim Zvili, Elie Barnavi and Yehuda Lancry. The meeting was hosted by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Shek, who served as ambassador to France in 2006-2011, told Haaretz that Abbas said he is willing to meet with Netanyahu, but “a third party who isn’t Israeli” opposes holding such a meeting and has prevented it from taking place. The Israeli diplomats tried to find out who this third party is, but Abbas refused to say.
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