Netanyahu Tells Abbas Deadly Temple Mount Shooting Won't Disturb Status Quo

Abbas condemns Temple Mount shooting that killed two Israeli police officers, asks Netanyahu to reopen the holy site to worshipers

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Israeli police check the scene the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City following an attack on July 14, 2017.
Israeli police check the scene the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City following an attack on July 14, 2017.Credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday following the killing of two Israeli Border Police officers on the Temple Mount.

This was the first conversation the two held in a year. Netanyahu called Abbas to ask him to calm the situation following the attack and to prevent incitement. Abbas condemned the attack in their discussion.

During the call, Abbas said that he opposes any and all kind of violence, especially in places of worship. Abbas asked Netanyahu to cancel the steps Israel took following the attack, including the shuttering of the Temple Mount to worshipers.

The Palestinian president warned of the ramifications of such steps and of their possible exploitation by various parties to change the status quo at the site.

Netanyahu told Abbas that no change has been made, or will be made, to the quo at the Temple Mount. He added that Israel will do everything necessary to ensure security at the site.

He also asked the Palestinian president to act to calm things down, and to stop calls by Fatah on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank to go to the Temple Mount at this time.

Jerusalem's mufti was detained after prayers at Damascus Gate on suspicion that he called on Muslim worshipers to break into the Temple Mount, which had been closed following the attack.

Abbas also called Jordan's King Abdullah and asked that he intervene with Israel to prevent an escalation.

Muslim worshipers pray on a street outside the Lion Gate as Israeli police blocks the access to Al-Aqsa Mosque following a shooting attack on July 14, 2017.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

American special envoy Jason Greenblatt has since praised Abbas's unequivocal condemnation of the attack.

Following the telephone conversation with Abbas, Netanyahu held a meeting with defense officials, the chief of staff, the police commissioner, the Shin Bet security service and the coordinator of activities in the territories (COGAT).

Netanyahu instructed the dismantling of mourning tents set up by the families of the terrorists in Umm al-Fahm and ordered a significant strengthening of security arrangements on access roads to the Temple Mount.

During the discussion, it was decided to continue the investigation of the attack on the Temple Mount over the weekend and that come Sunday, depending on the result of the investigations, the Temple Mount will gradually be re-opened to both worshipers and visitors.

The two police officers were killed on Friday morning in a shooting attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. Another police officer was moderately wounded. The officers killed in the attack have been identified as Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Hael Sathawi and Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shanan.

The assailants, three residents of the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, were shot and killed. Police instructed that the gate to the compound be shuttered and that it be cleared of people. The police also announced the cancellation of Friday prayers for the first time in many years.


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