Israel Reprimands French Envoy Over Temple Mount Bid

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Israeli police officer at Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound, October 8, 2015.Credit: AP

French Ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave was summoned to a disciplinary meeting on Monday morning at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem against the backdrop of the French calling the UN Security Council to deploy international observers on Temple Mount.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon described the conversation as harsh, during which Aviv Shir On, deputy director-general for Europe, and Aharon Leshno-Yaar, head of the department for foreign organizations, expressed their unequivocal opposition to the French proposal for international presence at the holy site on Israel's behalf.

"Israel is opposed to any move that was coordinated and drafted without its participation has to do with its vital interests," they told the French ambassador. Maisonnave said at the meeting that his country was reviewing ideas for what he called a "continued stalemate in the peace process," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Kerry: U.S. opposes international presence on Temple Mount

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the U.S. opposes the French bid for international presence on the Temple Mount. What is needed, he said, was "more clarity" regarding the keeping of the status quo at the holy site.

Kerry noted that Jordan, which has a special status as supervisor of Jerusalem's holy sites under the Israeli-Jordanian peace accord, is also against the French proposal to deploy international observers on the Temple Mount.

"We don't contemplate any change, but nor does Israel," Kerry told reporters at a news conference in Madrid. "Israel understands the importance of that status quo. What is important is to make sure everybody understands what that means. We are not seeking some new change. We are not seeking outsiders or others to come in [to the Temple Mount]," he added. "We need to have clarity."

Kerry said that he was trying to reach an understanding that would make it clear to all parties involved what the status quo on the Temple Mount looks like.

He added that it is imperative that all sides act end the violence and avoid any action that could fuel further escalation.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to Amman on Saturday for meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan, in an effort to stop the escalating Palestinian-Israeli violence.

Prior to that, Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday. 

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